Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Reflection - Hope

I found this Advent reflection for week one on hope and LOVED it - I want to remember it. I really resonate with the distinction the writer makes between hope and optimism. Read the whole article here.
The Christian virtue of hope is different from optimism. Optimism usually
refers to a positive outlook on life based on favorable signs. The outlook is
good. And optimism often refers to what we believe we can accomplish or
bring about through our own efforts. Christian hope is something much deeper
and more substantial than that. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great 13th century
theologian, once spoke of hope in a very simple way. He said that hope means
“clinging to God as the source of absolute goodness.” The virtue of hope
enables us to face the reality of our lives. It allows us to address even the
difficult and disheartening aspects of life – the conflicts in our families, the
reality of illness, the pain of loss, our economy and joblessness. But hope
moves us to face those realities while clinging to God -- holding on to the
hand of God -- who is the source of absolute goodness.
The virtue of hope is for those times that don’t look very hopeful. It means an
abiding in God as the One Who knows all about us, Who is closer to us than
we are to ourselves. This is the God Who walks with us through whatever
difficulties we have to face. This is the God Who is sheer goodness and
Whose goodness will have the final word in our lives. It is this virtue of hope
– clinging to God as the source of absolute goodness – that enables us to
keep going in the present.
During the weeks of Advent before the celebration of Christmas, it would be
good if we asked the Lord to renew the gift of hope in our lives. Let us ask
Christ to help us cling more closely to Him as the Source of absolute
goodness. Advent is also a season in which we need to ask ourselves whether
we are signs of hope to others. Through what we say and do, by the way we
relate to others, do we offer hope to those who may be discouraged,
disillusioned or just overburdened by life? Do we make the effort to encourage
others during their difficult times? When people talk to us, do they come away
from that conversation with a little more hope? Do I, even in the ordinary
interactions of life, reflect a ray of the absolute goodness that God is?
As we pray together at the Eucharist, we make memory of the Lord Jesus Who
came to us once as a child and Who will come again in glory. He is the
Redeemer Who was sent by the Father because of God’s pure goodness. As we
receive Christ in the Eucharist, may we cling to Him each day and become a
more luminous sign of hope to the world.