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Me on Memory, John Paul II on Hope | Catholic Life

Me on Memory, John Paul II on Hope

I am quite convinced that holiness has little to do with happiness. I know that misery is often wonderful for drawing people to God while happiness causes us to focus on our own enjoyment rather than God. But we cannot merely ignore happiness in an attempt at an oh-so-holy misery.

I know, I know, I know. Sort of.

But then something happens and it makes me wonder whether there isn’t also something to the idea of formation and cultivating a certain disposition which may bear fruit at the most unexpected time. Who is to say what the appropriate gestation is for hope?

Despair is my disposition. It isn’t a deliciously tempting sin, it simply is a part of me. And my flesh and my heart fail continually and I wonder if perhaps my hidden heel somehow missed being covered by the baptismal waters. I swim in sin and breathe grace.

Somehow hope has take hold of me and I have understood it to be perfectly mysterious and random.

But then I was looking through old papers over Christmas, and I wonder whether I am not being a bit silly and even perhaps dishonest with myself. I used to cultivate hope. I thought that I had failed, but perhaps, perhaps not? I do not presume that my peaceful optimism will last–and it feels so much less presumptuous to think of hope as optimism–but it is another sort of sin to fail to appreciate what is both real and Good.

And so I must give at least a slight nodd to the person I once was: a young woman who dared to cultivate hope.

I have no idea where I found these quotes, they were printed without citation and only labeled “John Paul II for those who find it hard to hope.”

Being holy means living in deep communion with the God of joy, having a heart free from sin and the sadness of the world, and a mind that is humble before him.

What could seem to human eyes a slow and uneven path, is actually God’s method.

Do not be afraid; Christ has overcome the world. He is with all of you. May his peace always brighten the horizons of your life.

Where are you, you ask the Lord. “I am here. Wherever you are, I am also there. I am the Eucharist. I am in your midst.”

This is the condition of the true Christian. He can nurture a trustful optimism, because he is certain of not walking alone. In sending us Jesus, the eternal Son made man, God has drawn near to each of us. In Christ, he has become our traveling companion. If time marches on inexorably, often shattering even our dreams, Christ, the Lord of time, gives us the possibility of an ever new life.

I hadn’t read those in years, but I was silenced by the last lines: “If time marches on inexorably, often shattering even our dreams, Christ, the Lord of time, gives us the possibility of an ever new life.” Oh, how could I have forgotten that I ever knew them and then have them show up as a deep internal truth later? Of course this is my whole life, but I am somehow still surprised.

I imagine myself to be somehow passively, randomly hopeful now. I have forgotten the many, many times I played this song incessantly. I have forgotten how desperately I tried to live Hope.

I remember so little of my life. Perhaps it is a protective blessing. But I do not want to forget to be thankful for the ways that I benefit from faithfulness during bitter times.

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6 Responses to “Me on Memory, John Paul II on Hope”

  1. Kathleen 12. Jan, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    “I wonder if perhaps my hidden heel somehow missed being covered by the baptismal waters. I swim in sin and breathe grace.”

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful. This resonates with me today, because I was just thinking this morning, as I wade through weeks of “ick” and every new instance makes me want to pound the walls into obliviion, that at other times in my life I would have looked for things to be thankful for in the midst of it, and now I’m just wallowing.

    Maybe you and I should both make that commitment to reclaim the attitude of hope.

  2. Jose 12. Jan, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks for posting this! It is oddly appropriate for my current situation. I’ve been struggling with hope as well, wondering how much hope it is prudent to have in situations like these. I fear cultivating false hope, and in the end being even more disappointed. Hope for nothing and therefore be disappointed in nothing, other than in the hopelessness itself. I tried to live by that motto during this current storm in my life, but I couldn’t. Hopelessness just makes everything worse, it paints every scene with an unbearable grayness. It is good to have hopes and dreams, even if, as John Paul II says, those dreams are shattered. After all, our true Hope is Christ, and He will never leave us!

    PS. You are a great writer! I’m pleasantly surprised.

  3. alison 12. Jan, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    I can remember back when I pondered becoming Christian again if it was really that different from being just an optimist (in the day to day sense, not in the ‘Jesus has risen!’ sense!). This is hard for me as I’m naturally more of a pessimist too, whether by nature or nurture. I have a post on this swirling around in my head on this but it never has a clear conclusion, so its never seen someone else’s view. There is something to “cultivating a disposition of hope” that is important for when those hard times hit, which they are bound to for everyone.

  4. Kacie 13. Jan, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Yes…. profound. Such a fine balance… hope and realistic melancholy.

  5. Dwain 08. May, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

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  6. Shahnawaz 31. Jul, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Australia Definitely. Australia Day is coming up at the end of January too. A rionckg celebration to honor the people and culture of Australia. Plus a great excuse for having a few bevvies not that you need one. The weather is perfect right now and the people are so friendly. Just be sure not to watch the movie Wolf Creek before you go. My Vote: Australia! Was this answer helpful?

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