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In the face of death, hope; in the shadow of hate, joy

| Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Utter loss of hope. That is despair. Hope is a virtue by which we expect and anticipate God and God’s dream for His children. Even as we try to hope, the waters of Ebola, of ISIS, of shootings, of endless wars, of the destruction of the environment and of growing isolation bred by hyper-individualism threaten to drown out every last bit of expectation for anything better. From day to day, we see everything worth hoping for torn from our hands, shot and often ignored by the powers of the world. We ask ourselves how we should go about the business of hoping.
And then there is joy.
Joy comes from loving. Goethe reminds us “happy alone is the soul who loves.” It is hope that gives us the courage to love, and it is love that grows joy.
We have to trust in a vision of human life that refuses to believe death, displacement of millions of people because of violence and disease do not have the last word. If we are callous to suffering, then our hope is dead. There can be no joy.
We can respond to the world’s suffering with a vision of love. Imagination must be broken free from pessimism, and creativity must be unshackled from a sense of disempowerment.
The Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross (the religious community that founded Notre Dame) state Jesus was “anointed to bring good news to the poor, release for prisoners, sight for the blind, restoration for every broken victim” and not “just as servants but as […] neighbors.” We can extend this mission of healing, reconciliation, justice and love, but we must trust it, hope in it.
The Center for Social Concerns (located in Geddes Hall) has dedicated this year to the themes of joy and hope. The Center has arranged a series of speakers and film showings and a spring conference to explore how we can live in hope and joy in a world that often says we cannot. It also provides programming for students to concretely engage poverty, death, suffering and isolation here in the U.S. and all over the world. We will refuse to capitulate. Even in the shadow of death, we will hope in and live out a vision of love. That will be our joy.

Michael Thomas


Congregation of Holy Cross

Nov. 2

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