Dear youth of the church, and the world:
At the risk of dating myself, I admit that as a college student we sang and danced to a popular song, “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.” In this 21st century I rephrase that: What the World Needs Now is Hope, Sweet Hope.
You are my hope. That is my message to you. You may reply that you lack hope in this world where violence, war, anger and the present 21st century pandemic, COVID-19 prevail. I add to that the news article which appeared in USA Today on Jan. 30, 2020, “More and More Americans are dying by suicide,” recording the CDC statistics that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and 1.4 million people attempted it! Suicide rates are up 33% since 1999! We may conclude that a culture of death prevails. These are the signs of the time, but I ask you to stop and listen.
As one who numbers among those who are older than you, I ask you to listen to our experiences. Please, do not repeat our mistakes, but learn from them and correct them. If you do this you have fulfilled my hope but more importantly, have changed the world.
Do not stay with structures and customs which are no longer relevant in this world today, which are no longer life-giving. You have the benefit of the power given to you from science, technology and education.
These could lead you to self-gratification, sexual promiscuity and a desire for wealth which may bring you to the threshold of depression and despair.
But that need not be, if you listen attentively. There is a Voice calling you: Be not afraid (Mt. 14:27); I am with you always (Mt. 28:20). May you respond with the psalmist’s prayer: “Keep me safe, O God, you are my hope.” Note that without God you are without hope.
Hope is God’s gift to us, a grace, a theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. We place our trust in Christ’s promises relying not on our own strength but on the help and grace of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1817).
You are the future with all that it offers, a wide vista of new paths for a better life for all people. I am reminded of St. Augustine’s statement: “Bad times, hard times, that is what people keep saying, but let us live well and the times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.”
So let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised it is faithful (Heb. 10:23). Note that St. Augustine says that the world we live in is a result of our actions.
You may ask: What can I possibly do to foster a better world? I offer the following:
- Prayer is important. Trust that God is in everyone and everything;
- Don’t listen to those who foster hatred and division;
- Be a person of good deeds. Help others. Work for peace and justice by showing love and respect for others who are different from you;
- Continue to dream and believe that the impossible may become reality. This has been proven throughout the centuries;
- Live a life of love and belief in God who is with and in you. Nurture the seed he plants within you to create a new world.
It is possible if we “… hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised it is faithful” (CCC 1817).
A final word from Sister Anna Dengel, MD, foundress of the Medical Mission Sisters: “The good news is that hope is alive amidst chaos, because God will never give up on creation.”
Sister Marie Lorraine Bruno, I.H.M., is professor emerita at Immaculata University’s Department of Art, Languages and Literature.
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