Tuesday, March 31, 2020



Hope, the dictionary tells us, is the expectant desire of something being granted, a type of fulfillment of desire. What that means is by an act of will, imagination, we conceive of a particular gift, promotion, relationship we desire and we ‘hope’ for it.

Sometimes people express the idea of ‘hope against hope’, which actually is a lack of trust, primarily in the caring love of God or of another.

In these essays ‘hope’ refers to the theological virtue, itself a gift of the Holy Spirit and not something we self-generate by an act of the will.

One winter when I was a teenager working deep in the bush felling and cutting up trees for the pulp mill, I wandered some distance from the rest of the crew, we worked spread out, so as to avoid dropping trees on each other. This time however I had moved off further than normal and the light snow which had been falling all day suddenly became a blizzard. Blizzard or not being alone deep in the bush anyone can become disoriented and if panic sets in mostly you end up walking in a circle, which is extremely dangerous. If the weather is sunny and warm, as in summer for example, best to stay put and wait to be rescued.

In the midst of a blizzard and its attendant windchill, and given I was familiar with the bush, best was to carefully find my way out to the logging road, some 200 metres away and there I knew I would encounter the rest of the crew.

Giving into the human act of will type of hope it would have evaporated before I walked a few metres, panic would have set in, I would have been lost. The key to calmness and carefully finding my way was to ask Jesus to have my Guardian Angel help me to keep calm and find my way.

Suddenly weeks ago, we were going about our daily lives when the blizzard of the new normal struck. Our hope lies in trust, trust that God who loves us hears our plea for help, trust that if we follow the path laid out for us by government and health authorities eventually this storm will pass. True we will experience moments, perhaps even hours, when panic or discouragement gnaws at us.

That is when we should pray all the more, reach out to loved ones by phone or via the internet, burn off the anxiety and dark thinking by some form of exercise, such as going for a walk, being bathed in sunlight, breathing fresh air and in all that the sweetness of hope will be renewed within us, trust will be invigorated, we will be strengthened to continue the journey: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [1Pt.1:3-7]

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."….The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity. [1]

An example of that charity, which is love for one another flowing from hope is this city providing buses, with air barriers to protect the drivers, and bus drivers who drive the special route around the inner city to pick-up the homeless throughout the day and take them to a huge city building, used for things like trade shows but empty these days, where cots have been arranged, tables and chairs, nurses are available so that when the homeless arrive they are screened and any with the virus has a special area of shelter and food, a place to sleep so when in the evening the buses return the non-infected to the various shelters the first group are also in a warm and safe place. Snacks are provided, needed medications are provided and a financial institution is helping with the costs.

The volunteer drivers, nurses and others are assuring the homeless they too can experience hope and love.

St. Paul urges us all to: Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. [Rm.12.12]

[1] https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P66.HTM

Afterthought: I am going to take a two day break from these posts to rest, re-group, being of the age where isolation is mandatory will try go for longer walks, keeping charitable distancing, should the fierce winter winds of spring, slow down and the windchill gives way to say a balmy minus 5 [23 degrees] rather than the chilly minus 19 [2 degrees below zero] of today!

© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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