Spes Salvi describes how our human longing provides a segue into hope: “We want only one thing – the ‘blessed life,’ the life which is simply ‘happiness.’ In some way we want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we do not know the thing toward which we feel driven. This unknown ‘thing’ is the true ‘hope’ which drives us, and at the same time the fact that it is the unknown is the cause of all forms of despair and also of all efforts, whether positive or destructive, directed toward worldly authenticity and human authenticity” (11-12). When human hopes are fulfilled it becomes clear that we have need of a hope which goes even further. Only something infinite and unchanging will suffice. A perfect world seems to be achievable but always out of reach.
I am reading a book called The Misfit by Larry Lewis, a Maryknoll missionary. Upset by the death of his father, Fr. Lewis felt compelled to teach in mainland China as he dealt with loss. He was there during the student pro-democracy demonstration in Tiananmen Square, consequent government crackdown and massacre of many students by the Chinese military. Hope is a refrain throughout this book. The Chinese government hoped for a perfect society achieved through Marxist Communism, placing faith in the truth of here and now. Party members believed redemption could be found by controlling the school staff and students. In this misplaced hope for the kingdom of man freedom was taken away. Fr. Lewis hoped to reveal the deeper reality of being human to the students through his American literature course. “Their appreciation of the void,” describes Fr. Lewis, “brought them to the threshold of the liberating mystery.” Hope was instilled in the students as they looked through the void to God. They discovered their capacity for relatedness with the truth, their soul (259).
The human person desires boundless fulfillment. The suffering that Fr. Lewis experienced in his life led him to truly love and be with others in their suffering. In doing so he introduced them to truth and freedom in the kingdom of God. Entering the void and the doubt that accompanies faith is a suffering that allows us to be with those who have no hope; we don’t limit ourselves to asking “how can I save myself?” No one is saved alone. Heaven is a stranger to isolation since it is the un-ruptured self-communion of the body of Christ. The encounter with Christ is the encounter with his whole body. “We come face to face with our own guilt vis-à-vis the suffering members of that body (232). Purgatory is that inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints. Jesus’ descent into Hell in that freedom of his own love is a challenge to us to suffer in the dark night of faith, to experience communion with Christ in solidarity with his descent into the night (217). Christ descended into Hell and is therefore is close to all those on the edge of despair.
The communists who opposed the students at Tiananmen Square misplaced their hope in building a kingdom of man without God (22). Man’s great, true hope is that through Jesus we have become certain of God who has loved us and continues to love us. There is a new truth for man, the truth of being loved by truth (206). If we are in relationship with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life (28). His love gives us the possibility of following his way and persevering day by day in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. Christ is way, truth and life (John 14).
Quotes: Benedict XVI
Spes Salvi (double digit) &
Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (triple digits)
Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo is the co-founder of the Daughters of St. Paul. She was the first Superior General. She was also "a mother" the fledgling Society of St Paul and Sister Disciples through uplifting thoughts, prayer and through generous assistance in whatever way it was needed. She was born on February 20, 1894. She grew up in a town in Northern Italy. Her family lived by the Gospel exhortation to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice." She lived the Gospel in a radical way. Her trust was total as she worked along side of Blessed James Alberione in a very new apostolate of the press and media. Her self-gift to God was total - though joys and sorrows, tears and laughter. The belief that God will give us all that we need sustained her. She reminded us often: "the rest will be given to you!" She offered her life for the holiness of everyone in the Pauline Family. (Photo: Mother Paula Cordero, Blessed James Alberione, Mother Thecla Merlo).
Activity Handout: Dealing with Discouragement
by John M. Boucher
It doesn’t take long for Catholics evangelizers to experience discouragement. Diocesan and parish evangelization plans seem to move forward like glaciers and frequently stall. Local programs and projects burst forth with fire and fervor, but over a few months or years seem to sputter or burn out. One-to-one evangelizing encounters with others bubble up with great joy, but can take unexpected turns or seem to go nowhere. Temptations to give up sharing our faith with others swarm around us like mosquitoes and seem to drain our commitment to continue “the essential mission of the Church.” (Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, 14) Recall Simon’s (St. Peter’s) words, “…[Jesus] said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.’” (NRSV Lk 5:4&5)
Download this handout.
Download this handout.
From Paulist Evangelizationhttp://www.pncea.org/news/ee0210-boucher-discouragement-handout.aspx?idevd=C3C82A1ECEE011DE932778A056D89593&idevm=7f1f3c5ecfa84536b499540d7b3e2df8&idevmid=4170
OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - The Church using “Facebook” to evangelize
Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – Meet young people, encourage dialogue, and exchange on issues of morality and social themes, show the Catholic Church as an institution that is "close" to people using new media for evangelization.... As Fides learns from the local church, these are some of the main objectives of the new initiative launched by the Bishops' Conference of Australia: the Church's presence on the social network Facebook.
The Facebook page includes photographs, images, and texts about the life of the Church in the nation, structured in a lively and dynamic manner, suited to Web users, especially young people: you can interact with priests, discover events promoted by the Church, dialogue with and contact Catholic communities and ecclesial movements throughout the country.
"Social networks are now a resource and a means by which young people share ideas and enter in contact," the Australian Church told Fides. "So, we decided to meet them on their turf and sow the seed of the Gospel in Facebook." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/02/2010)
Australian Bishops' page on Facebook
Even more special than the merchandise, however, were the Pauline sisters who ran the bookstore. The Daughters of Saint Paul is a religious congregation of consecrated women founded more than 100 years ago to spread the Gospel through the printed word. Blessed Fr. James Alberione, its founder, is quoted on the Sisters’ website describing his vision of the Pauline Sisters. “An apostle is one who carries God in her soul and radiates him around herself.”
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