Sunday, 3 July 2011

Astonishing Hope

It is summer and the weather actually agrees these days with this wonderful fact. Yet while most people are planning their holidays and most students are recovering from exams, some 16 young Flemish and Dutch Jesuits are gathered in Drongen (Belgium) for three days of prayer and reflection: What is the future of the Church in Flanders and Belgium and what is the role of the Society of Jesus in that future? The atmosphere is very positive despite dwindling numbers both in the Church and in the Society of Jesus. A strong hope and sense of renewal is present in all of us. That is surprising, since looking at the statistics should be enough to give everyone a funeral feeling. But not so. A small group, a new beginning. Jesus started out with twelve and changed the world. This is Christian hope that flourishes and gives life even there where apparently the end is near. And this Hope is astonishing in the words of Charles Péguy:

Hope, says God, that is what astonishes me.

I, myself, find it astonishing
that my children see what happens and believe things will improve.

That is the most astonishing, the most marvelous gift.
And it astonishes me, myself, that my gift has such incredible strength
since it first flowed in creation as it always will.

Faith sees what is.
Hope sees what will be.
Love loves what is.

Hope loves what has not yet been
and what will be in the future and in eternity

(La Porche du Mystère de la deuxième vertu, Translated by Anne Primavesi and Colin Carr)

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