By Msgr. Father Joseph Staudt, Sacred Heart Parish of Mattituck
On my bathroom mirror, I have taped a laminated piece of paper on which is written these words: “Hope is the ability to believe that good can happen out of anything.”
This is a quote from Sister Joan Chittester, who is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania. She is the author of more than 50 books and the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spiritualty.
I start each day by reading that quote from Sister Joan because it helps me to maintain a Christian (i.e., hope-filled) perspective on life. Can we truly believe that good can happen out of anything? Isn’t that an unrealistic, Pollyanna, “rose-colored glasses” approach to life? How can good possibly come out of suffering — physical, emotional and spiritual — as we experience it in its many forms? How can good come out of death, the “deaths” we experience in the form of broken dreams, betrayals, disappointments and the like, and losing our loved ones to illness, accidents, advanced age — and never be able to speak to them and hug them while we journey through life without them?
When one enters a Catholic church, they can’t help but notice the figure of a crucified Christ in a prominent place in the sanctuary. Why do Catholic churches have the figure of a crucified Christ and not a glorified Christ? Why not focus on Jesus’s victory instead of his failure?
Christian theology holds that the Paschal Mystery is central to its beliefs. This simply means that Christians believe that Jesus willingly gave his life in a most gruesome, painful way because he knew that this was the most powerful way he could express his Father’s love for all humanity. He knew that his Father would raise him up, victorious over the power of sin, suffering and death. His Father did not spare him from having to go through his Passion; his Father did not rescue him while he was going through his Passion, but he had hope in his Father’s love for him and for all humankind. While Jesus was going through his Passion, it appeared to many (even to his disciples) that there was no reason to hope. Yet, Easter Sunday is God’s answer: sin, suffering and death do not have the last word. Resurrection and new life is God’s answer.
Therefore, reflecting on Sister Joan’s quote, good can (and does!) happen out of anything, yes, even the evil things that we experience. One must try to have faith, which means to trust that there is a bigger picture than the one I see at this moment, that there is more going on than I can comprehend right now.
Some people put it this way: “God writes straight with crooked lines,” or “Inside of every dark cloud is a silver lining.”
I prefer: “Hope is the ability to believe that good can happen out of anything.” With those words, I begin each day and I am reminded that God is with me through everything!