Christ Always Offers Hope Amid Disorder

COMMENTARY: There are lots of reasons to feel hopeless right now. And yet, as Catholics, that’s the last thing we should do.

Now is a time for hope.
Now is a time for hope. (photo: Zolnierek / Shutterstock)

If I had to sum up the mood of many Catholics right now, I’d use just one word: Despair.

Despair seems to be everywhere among the faithful. I hear it in conversations nearly every day with family, friends, business leaders, lay leaders, philanthropists and many others. I read in Catholic publications on a regular basis. It seems like the only place I haven’t heard despair is from the pulpit. But it has come close a couple of times. 

I get why despair is so widespread. A lot of depressing and disheartening trends surround us — and not just the coronavirus pandemic and terrible challenges of the past 18 months. In my 66 years, I’ve never seen the culture so disturbingly opposed to the truth.

Religious liberty is under sustained assault. Across the country, faithful Catholics and other religious believers face mounting pressure to violate our beliefs as a condition of civic participation. 

The right to life is on the ropes. Federal lawmakers want to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans taxpayer funding of abortion. Pro-life policies are giving way to pro-abortion ones in D.C.

The dignity of the human person is widely denied. Children are being taught that they can choose their gender — that gender itself can mean anything for anyone. Children are also being taught to look at people solely through the lens of race and gender. That used to be known as racism and sexism.

Finally, the economic freedom that Pope St. John Paul II praised is fading. In its place, the socialist collectivism that he condemned is rising. This trend is being sold for the sake of the poor, yet no one will suffer more than the poor.

It keeps getting worse, endlessly worse. So yes, it’s easy to despair right now. And yet, as Catholics, that’s the last thing we should do.

We’re not a people of despair. We’re a people of hope.

I was reminded of this easy-to-forget truth at Mass on June 20. The first reading was Job: When God spoke of restraining the storm. The Gospel was Mark: The disciples feared the storm, before Jesus calmed it. They, like us, had every reason to despair. Yet Christ Himself swept it away. The disciples simply needed to put their trust in home, and their fear would have given way to hope.

Isn’t that what we need right now? 

Yes, the difficulties facing our families, Church, and culture are serious — existential, even. Yet no matter how out of control things seem to us, the Holy Spirit is still in control. When we remember that fact, and let it fill our hearts, it’s far easier to summon the confidence to fight the dangerous trends that surround us. God can still calm the storm, and we can be His instruments.

Now is a time for hope. One place to find it is the Napa Institute’s upcoming summer conference, held July 21-25: “All Things Made New.” 

Now in its 11th year, the conference will bring together more than 700 bishops, lay leaders and Catholics from all walks of life and all around the world. Our purpose is simple: Sow the seeds of renewal in a culture that needs it. Or put another way, find and spread hope.

For the second year, the conference is available virtually. If you’re in the Washington, D.C., region, you can attend a watch party with fellow Catholic leaders on July 22. 

Beyond the Napa Institute’s conference, hope can be found in far more important places — ones that are available to all of us all year round. 

Prayer. 

Mass. 

Adoration. 

Christ is always there, waiting for us, and he always offers hope. If we truly want to overcome despair, let’s turn to him in a whole new way. Nothing is more important, for us or the world.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23.

Pope Francis: The Word of God Rekindles Hope

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the fourth-annual Sunday of the Word of God, during which he, for the first time, formally conferred upon lay Catholics the ministries of lector and catechist.