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C21 Resources A S E R V I C E in this issue O F B O S T O N The Virtue of Hope A Time for Hope H ope can seem to be both fragile—“the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,” as Emily Dickinson called it—and yet persistent—“it sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” The Catechism offers a delicate web of explanations to unfold the meaning of this virtue. Hope is rooted in the aspiration to hold onto our faith and in the desire for happiness that God has placed in the heart of everyone. It takes as its model Abraham, who trusted in God’s promise against all expectation. Hope unfolds in Jesus’ proclamation of the beatitudes as a description of the Kingdom that God is creating. And it finds its guarantee in the salvific death and resurrection of Jesus. Christian hope is thus both an act of steadfastness, of holding on against odds or appearances, and a surrender, a giving in to that power, God’s power, so much greater than our own. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,” the Letter to the Hebrews urges, “for he who promised is faithful.” What better virtue to ponder during this difficult season in the life of the American Catholic Church, as it seeks to move beyond the crisis that has engulfed it? Thus this fifth issue of C21 Resources offers reflections and personal stories by a range of Catholic writers suggesting reasons for hope. BY DONALD DEMARCO I n Pope John Paul II’s Tertio Millennio Adveniente, published in 1994, the Holy Father speaks of the importance of hope in the context of “crossing the threshold of the new millennium.” He indicates that these “crossings” imply a measure of difficulty as well as a need for purification. “Good” hope, to use St. Paul’s qualifying adjective, must be distinguished from the many false hopes that surround us daily and are a constant source of temptation. We hope for wealth, beauty, fame, success, and a comfortable life. But these are winter 2005 C O L L E G E largely vanities. They will not furnish us with what satisfies our deepest longing. They are transitory; we are immortal. The Holy Father reminds us that good hope—or true hope—directs us to our final goal which gives ultimate meaning and value to everything that is part of our lives. Therefore, as he goes on to say, In this new millennium, Christians are called to prepare for the Great Jubilee by renewing their hope in the definitive coming of the Kingdom of God, preparing for it daily in their hearts, in the Christian community to which they belong, in their particular social context, and in world history itself. Hope is about that which is ultimate —God—but it is not unrelated to the events that make up the substance of our lives. Indeed, hope transfigures them precisely because it relates them to their ultimate meaning. Hope is ultimate and immanent. But it is also essential, for no human being can endure its opposite—despair. In his great poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante penned what may be his most celebrated line when he inscribed over the entranceway to the infernal kingdom these words: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here” (Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate). The immediate meaning, that hell is a place of absolute finality where hope is no longer possible, is clear enough. But there is a subtler and perhaps more important meaning that Continued on Page 2 The Editors BOSTON COLLEGE | C21 RESOURCES | WINTER 2005 1

2005 Spring, The Virtue of Hope

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