In this month of September, we are celebrating the gift of HOPE. Our Catholic faith is such an incredible reminder that no matter what is happening in our lives and the world around us, we always have hope because Jesus is right there with us.
"A distinguishing mark of Chirstians [is] the fact that they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness." ~Pope Benedict XVI
There are times throughout our lives where hope comes easily, things seems to be working out well and the people we love are all safe and healthy. Then there are other times where hope is harder to come by. Those moments in our lives where we are called to endure hardship, sorrow, loss, conflict and temptation it is especially important to turn to the Lord and remember that through Jesus, there is always hope.
"In hope, we cling to God as our promised final good while contending with the obstacles that we meet on the way to him... Despair is the opposite of hope in God's goodness and mercy...Depair is especially dangerous because when one loses hope and decides to give up on God's mercy, one will tend more easily to fall into other sins and will not try to rise up from them...No sin is more powerful than God's mercy." (Credo: An RCIA Program)
May each of us remember God's mercy and trust in His plan for our future. No matter how challenging or uncertain our situation may seem, we can have faith that we are being blessed with all of the tools necessary to endure and that the love of God is always certain.
VATICAN CITY — Young people should love, believe and follow their dreams, never despairing because Jesus is always with them, Pope Francis said.
When life hits hard, they should try to get up again, letting others help them, and if they are bored, they should concentrate on doing good things for others, the pope said Sept. 20 during his weekly general audience. Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, the pope gave extensive advice on how to teach people, especially young people, to remain full of hope. No matter "where God has planted you, hope. Always hope," he said, explaining:
"Believe in the existence of the most noble and beautiful truths" and trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is ushering everything toward the good, toward "Christ's embrace."
Believers are not alone in their faith. There are others who hope, too. "The world goes on thanks to the vision of many people who created an opening, who built bridges, who dreamed and believed, even when they heard words of derision around them."
Never believe the struggles here on earth are "useless." God never disappoints and he wants that seed he planted in everyone to bloom. "God made us to flower, too."
"If you're bored stiff, crush (boredom) with good works."
"If you feel empty and demoralized, ask if the Holy Spirit may newly replenish" that void.
Work for peace among people.
Don't listen to those "who spread hatred and division."
No matter how different people are from one another, human beings "were created to live together. With disputes, wait patiently. One day you will discover that a sliver of truth has been entrusted to everyone."
Love people. Respect everyone's journey--whether it be troubled or down the straight and narrow because everyone has a story behind them.
Every baby born is "the promise of a life that once again shows it is stronger than death."
"Jesus has given us a light that shines in the darkness; defend it, protect it. This unique light is the greatest richness entrusted to your life."
Dream of a world still not seen, but will certainly come one day. Think of those who sailed oceans, scaled mountains, conquered slavery or made life better for people on earth.
Ask God for courage every day. "Remember Jesus conquered fear for us" and "not even our most treacherous enemy can do anything against faith."
If fear or evil looms so large it seems insurmountable, remember "that Jesus lives in you. And, through you, it is he, who, with his meekness, wants to subdue all enemies of humanity: sin, hatred, crime and violence."
Be courageous in speaking the truth, but never forget, "you are not above anyone." Even if one feels certain that he or she is the last person on earth who holds to the truth, "do not spurn the company of human being for this" reason.
Spend time with people who have kept a childlike heart. "Learn from splendor, nurture, amazement."
"Live, love, believe, and with God's grace, never despair."
Source: Carol Glatz, The Catholic News Agency, September 2017
During the month of September, we will pray for all peole to have HOPE. We must not give into the darkness that tempts us and leads us away from Jesus instead of into His arms. This life can beat us down with trials, sorrows and dibilitating worries. When it seems hopeless, God's messages about our future hope can deeply encourage us.
O God, source of all goodness, fill our hearts with your love and increase hope within us. May we never be discouraged by difficulties but reach forward in expectation to the good things you promise to those who love you. Give us the boldness to seek the things of heaven and confidence in your desire to bring us everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Thomas Smith, Ascension Press
Called by God when just a teenager (Jeremiah 1:5-7), our prophet was roundly rejected and maligned by his own people, forsaken by his family, and even forbidden from marrying (Jeremiah 16:1-2). He would remain in Jerusalem to the bitter end, witnessing the fiery destruction of the Temple and the public slaughter of the Davidic line. He earned the right to write Lamentations.
And yet, in spite of all of this, he remains for me a prophet of hopefulness. Jeremiah understood that hope has little to do with external circumstances and everything to do with God, the true hope of Israel (Jeremiah 14:8).
At his darkest hour, as Babylon surrounded his starving city, and while imprisoned by his fellow Jews, Jeremiah did something amazing. He bought a tract of land from his cousin in Anathoth, a parcel already conquered and leveled by the Babylonian armies.
In modern parlance, he put his money where his mouth was. He had already promised the people that after a seventy-year exile for their sins, they would return to the land again, settling their ancestral cities. Now his actions made his prophecies sure.
To the gathered witnesses, he placed the signed deed before the people and sealed it in an earthenware jar as a kind of time capsule, declaring, “houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land” (Jeremiah 32:15). While the cities’ walls were being breached, he surrounded the little remnant of Jews with a fortress of hope. Even in his Lamentations, he could say:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” ~Lamentations 3:21-23
When we look around our world today, it sometimes seems there is little reason to hope. And yet, difficult times are the very moments we must “lean into” the virtue of hope, given to each of us at baptism.
Finally, this hope isn’t for our own consolation and strength. It is meant to be shared! Like Jeremiah we must proclaim this living hope in our word and deeds! I love how St. Peter puts it:
“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” ~1 Peter 3:15
What are some of the concrete ways you can be a herald of hope to those around you?
What are the cracks in your foundation, and how can the Master Builder repair them?
What is something impossible you can expect from God?
What dream inspires hope for your future?
In what situation is God calling you to become a person of hope?
How can your gifts and talents serve the Church in powerful ways?
Who in your life could benefit from a letter of encouragement? Now what's stopping you from writing that letter?
What's standing between you and an intimate, hope-filled relationship with God?
What is God giving you the chance to say YES to today?
What are some of the ways God has answered prayers in your life?
Name the people in your life that bring you hope. Reach out to one of those people this month, thank them for being a source of hope for you.
Source: Beautiful Hope, Finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World