Friday, November 11, 2011

A Hope That Goes Further

Day by day, man experiences many greater or lesser hopes, different in kind according to the different periods of his life. Sometimes one of these hopes may appear to be totally satisfying without any need for other hopes. Young people can have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes clear that they were not, in reality, the whole. It becomes evident that man has need of a hope that goes further. It becomes clear that only something infinite will suffice for him, something that will always be more than he can ever attain. In this regard our contemporary age has developed the hope of creating a perfect world that, thanks to scientific knowledge and to scientifically based politics, seemed to be achievable… This seemed at last to be the great and realistic hope that man needs. It was capable of galvanizing—for a time—all man's energies… it has become clear that this hope is constantly receding. Above all it has become apparent that this may be a hope for a future generation, but not for me… [but] a hope that does not concern me personally is not a real hope. It has also become clear that this hope is opposed to freedom, since human affairs depend in each generation on the free decisions of those concerned. If this freedom were to be taken away, as a result of certain conditions or structures, then ultimately this world would not be good, since a world without freedom can by no means be a good world… the question always arises: when is the world “better”? What makes it good? By what standard are we to judge its goodness? What are the paths that lead to this “goodness”?

Spe Salvi 30

Reflection -  Whither Greece? Whither Italy? Whither Europe? Is the Euro about the wither? Are we? Am I? How about you? Whither the withered, these days?
The world is in a bit of shaky state these days, as I have pointed out more than once on this blog. Truly hard to know what to make of it all, at least from where I’m sitting up in the backwoods of Canada. The Pope ‘s encyclical on hope is so utterly relevant these days, perhaps of all his writings it is the most urgently relevant in this time of global uncertainty.
We all hope that our lives will work out, for health and prosperity, success and the world’s goods. And sometimes we get what we hope for. Then we find out that all that stuff, nice as it is, does not make us fully happy. And even if we’re pretty happy, at some point we lose it – we grow old, we lose our health, people we love. That’s life. And oftentimes, it doesn’t work out at all. That’s life, too.
But hope must deepen, then, in us, if life is not to be a sad tragic affair. We have to learn to turn our earthly hopes to heavenly hopes. We have to learn that happiness, real and lasting perfect happiness, just is not given to us here and now. Otherwise we either become very sad and bitter, or plunge ourselves into the kind of ideological frenzy that the Pope outlines so well above – trying to build some kind of perfect world where none of that bad stuff will ever happen.
That’s what Europe’s been trying to do since the end of WWII, and it seems to be about to come crashing down around them. That’s what so much of the world has tried to do in the past decades, and it’s not working out very well. We have to learn. We have to go deeper. We have to accept suffering as the price of life in this world. We have to find that 'hope that goes further' than life in this world. We have to learn there’s another world beckoning to us. And we have to learn how to get there, and Who will bring us there.

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