Fear or Hope?

When I opened the New York Times this morning (yes, we still get it delivered every day even though we’ve lived in the Twin Cities for eight years now) I was struck by the fact that two of the headlines had the word “fear” in them (and there were several other “fears” sprinkled throughout the rest of news section of the paper).

It seems to me there is a lot of fear going around on all sorts of political and social issues.  What particular individuals fear varies, but the fear is a constant.

What I see less of in our news and other social commentary – including that by Christians – is mention of hope.  And that is unfortunate.  I think Timothy Radcliffe, in his book What is the Point of Being Christian, is absolutely correct that hope is the central gift we, as Christians, bring to the world. If Christianity makes any difference in how we live and how we die, it has to include how we convey hope to the world, how we point to what is not yet present.

To be sure, hope is not an invitation to sit back and do nothing.  I read an article a year or so ago in America Magazine by Robert Maloney, C.M., former superior general of the Congregation of the Mission.  In the article Maloney cited a quote attributable to Augustine of Hippo: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” Expounding on the quote, Maloney writes

Anger, Hope’s first daughter, reacts spontaneously in the face of evil, refusing to accept unjust social and economic structures that deprive the poor of life: unjust laws, power-based economic relationships, inequitable treaties, artificial boundaries, oppressive or corrupt governments and numerous other subtle obstacles to harmonious societal relationships. Then Hope’s second daughter, Courage, standing at Anger’s side and singing out persistently, searches for ways “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield,” as Tennyson put it.

The union of the two is important. Too often, we see one daughter – Anger – unaccompanied by the second – Courage. After all, the anger part is a lot easier. It doesn’t take much effort to sit around and talk about how angry things make us. But anger without the courage (and energy) to act is unproductive.

Our call is not to sit in fear.  It is a call to spread hope.  And we spread hope not by sitting back and simply hoping all will be better, but  by letting our anger at injustice spur us to find ways to address that injustice.



3 thoughts on “Fear or Hope?

  1. Thank you Susan!
    For many of us consumed by anger and paralyzed by fear – we find we are angry at a situation but fearful to step out or to speak up! I have found that doing a small thing for others, a service no one will either condemn or recognize , like serving lunch to the homeless, or volunteering for a food shelf helps me to break out of my paralysis – and even to speak out about my feelings!
    Blessings to you!

  2. ”If Christianity makes any difference in how we live and how we die, it has to include how we convey hope to the world, how we point to what is not yet present.”

    ‘Hope’ is alive, shared and offered to many like Susan does through the programs and retreats she participates in / and or leads, the books and blogs she recommends, and her postings here. Parishioners, as well as so many not parish affiliated, regularly perform extraordinary acts lovingly of kindness and charity, and through service bring hope to those lives touched and inspired.

    Such wonder of awareness, listening, discernment and service shared, in the name of God, surrounds us each day. . .

    What percentage of those acts are performed in the name of the Church? What percentage are performed personally?

    In the midst of a new design project Friday, an interview during ‘The Journey Home’ by EWTN’s Marcus Grodi with Matthew James Christoff – a Minneapolis resident and a convert to the Catholic Church in 2006 and one of the cofounders of CatholicManNight.com, a parish-based Catholic men’s evangelization effort that is focused on meeting and knowing Jesus Christ in Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, table fellowship, and discussion – stirred many passions. . .

    In addition, Matthew also evangelizes through AwedByJesusChrist.com, a website dedicated to helping people meet and be awed by Jesus Christ. Matthew has also recently launched The New Emangelization Project, an effort to draw attention to the “Catholic Man-Crisis” and to engage Catholic men to embrace new ardor, methods and expressions in the evangelization of Catholic men.

    After his conversion and while exploring possible parishes to join, he uncovered a scandal in a parish he was interested in becoming a member. While in the church, he walked in on what must have been a private ceremony as the priest was baptizing an infant whose parents were both men. His comment that all children have a right to be baptized was followed with more than mild disgust that a priest would preside at the Sacrament – Needless to say, he did not become a member of that parish. . .

    After Mass this morning, a EWTN segment on Lourdes touched on the dwindling number of Europeans and North Americans who visit the shrine, and how extraordinary is the increase in pilgrims from India, China and other Asian countries – casually equating the events to how the Catholic Church focused on evangelizing western nations after the Reformation.

    Individually, God’s children seldom use a litmus test before sharing their gifts, talents and self with another. Why does the Church ‘paint with such a wide brush’ and continually label far too many of His children as blemished, unworthy, sinful – without ever getting to know them or often without ever conversing with them?

    Imagine the ‘Courage’ it takes for the parents (labeled ‘sinners, by the Church) seeking a faith home like Matthew and seeking the Sacrament of Baptism for their infant to step into the spotlight (Light} and expose their life to scrutiny for the want of a parish home for their family.

    Without knowing them first, (anyone first) without getting to know and experience their hearts, how can anyone – especially the Church and its Shepherds – respond with closed hearts?

    Has not Christ, through the New Covenant, eternally linked Love and Hope? God’s children are called to a lifelong ministry of service to all – sadly, too few of His shepherds share the same freedom. . .

    “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.” (Luke 6; 36–37 New American Bible)

    As faith’s journey leads “to what is not yet present,” how unjust to judge those we do not know, and have no desire to ever know. . .

    By their thoughts and actions, one can only ‘Hope’ they do not have to ‘Fear’ judging others. . .

    How warranted is ‘Anger’ with the Church and the ‘Courage’ to acknowledge, hopefully inspire and share oneself with all of His children no matter the teachings of the Church?

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