To say that 2020 has been an annus horribilis (horrible year) is an understatement. Regardless of what the next few months will bring, there needs to be a reality sinking into our consciousness now — nothing will ever be the same again. It can’t be and, hopefully, as much as we might want, it won’t be.
This is not meant to be another doom and gloom article. But we cannot think when the lockdown for New York City is over that life will go back to normal. We cannot think when the riots and the protests that we have seen occur over the past week cease that we can and will go back to normal.
There is the harsh reality that many people have died and many people are still ill and their recovery is slow and uncertain. There is the fact that so many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. The sad tragedy of racism reared its ugly head and we, as American people, are forced to confront it yet again. Businesses are burned, the property has been destroyed, and, worst of all, lives have ended, all for something that many claimed was no longer affecting our “enlightened” society.
The way we relate to people no doubt has changed — gone for now are the handshakes and the hugs; in are masks, hand sanitizers, and social distancing. The way that learning occurs has changed — online learning, once thought a stop-gap measure, has proven to have to last longer than any educator would like (we have to wait to see what the results of online learning will be for the students both academically and interpersonally.)
The list of woes could go on and fill up this entire newspaper. But this is not the point — we recognize the problems, the sorrow, and the difficulties. Fear has gripped so many of us, and with good reason. Remember Mark 5:36; “Fear is useless; what is needed is hope.”
What is hope? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. ‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’ ‘The Holy Spirit … he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.’”
So, how can we as a Catholic Christian community act as people of hope? Hope means that we know that the battle is already won. Jesus is king! Have confidence in this fact. We as Christians are in the world and yet not of the world. We live in a fallen world, and yet it is redeemed. Ernest Hemingway, who sadly did not take his own advice, wrote “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for…” Let’s fight for this world, to make it a better place, recalling the words of St. Teresa of Avila: “Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.”