Because Hope is There, but Not Where We Look

Because Hope is There, but Not Where We Look January 20, 2010

After the votes were counted last night and after I was asleep, my iPhone received two text messages from my friend Lorenzo, who never sleeps. The first was “Brown WINS Massachusetts!!!!! Yeah!!!!” The second was: “Americans with this understood that Obama is not the answer to the hope, it is the end of the idea of Obama holding the hope.”

We do not “do” politics at YIM Catholic. Neither Frank nor I endorsed a candidate. (Like, who would care?) But the remarkable thing about Lorenzo’s exultant messages is, they are not political either.

I am one of the millions who hoped in Obama a year ago. Note that I did not say I voted for him (that’s my business). But I allowed myself to hope that, with his election, things would be different now. I bought into the belief that a political solution—which is to say, any “final answer” formulated by government—can change the world.

A couple of things happened since that election a year ago. First, I became ever more convinced of the wisdom of the Church’s positions on social issues. Second, and far more important to this discussion, I read and studied with my local School of Community Fr. Luigi Giussani’s second book in the trilogy Is It Possible to Live This Way? The second book is titled Hope.

To get straight to it, hope, according to Fr. G, is founded in faith, and faith is founded in a fact. That fact is the Incarnation, the Presence of Our Lord in the world, two thousand years ago and today. The only real hope must be built on this foundation. While I have not yet read the third book in the trilogy, Charity, I am expecting it to tell me that “the form of all virtues” can only be built on a foundation containing Christian faith and hope.

In the the so-called Fraternity Exercises from a CL meeting in 2009, Giussani’s successor, Fr. Juliàn Carròn, makes an even more challenging assertion. He writes (and I am paraphrasing) that not even Catholics’ defense of life can stand apart from this foundation. Without true hope founded on faith in the fact of Christ’s presence in our lives, no political position will stand up against the winds that blow. I urge you to read some of Fr. Carròn’s words in the pdf document at the link in this paragraph.

I pray for our President daily, as I’m sure Frank does, and as the liturgy of the Mass does too. But here and now I make a pledge: I will not hope in him or in any President any longer. And I’m sorry to tell you, Scott Brown, senator-elect, but I promise not to hope in you either.

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • Psalm 146Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,Whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth,The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; Who executes justice for the oppressed;Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;The LORD loves the righteous; The LORD protects the strangers;He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked.The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations.Praise the LORD!

  • Warren Jewell

    Depend upon the One Rock. Seek out the One Refuge.Look to the One Truth that we may have the One Real Freedom.We have but One Faith, and He is our Father.We have but One Hope, and He is our Father’s Son, Jesus Christ.We have but One Love, and He is our Holy Spirit of God.Do not linger here, looking about for His One Salvation.Our Lord Who has conquered eternal pain for sin is ahead of us.Our Master Who has made death but a gate to glory moves on. He carries His Cross, still, and so take up your own and follow.Keep to your pilgrimage and move on Home. O, my Lord, my God. Guide Your children Home to You.

  • Webster Bull

    Frank and Warren will be releasing their first album soon . . . 🙂

  • Mary P.

    I'll be first in line to buy it!

  • Warren Jewell

    Praying the Psalms in the embrace of the Holy Spirit tends to lead into one's own Psalm-like prayers. We have a very canny Lord. He wisely will not let us down that He will let Himself down; and none of us let Him down, either, if we but listen and learn."Papa sang bass, Mama sang tenor, me and little Frankie, we chimed right in there, by-and-by, Lord, by-n-by."

  • After the intensity of the 2009 elections , when I became a true 'news junkie', I decided that my following the political blogs was really taking time away from my little family; in addition, my larger nuclear family became so divided in our positions, that we even began to 'block' each others' e-mails. Some ceased talking to one another altogether — all this despite our essential common thread of Catholic faith! I began last year to redirect my 'blog energy' towards Catholic blogs, and to turn off FOX and CNN as much as possible. Results?? less personal angst, more spiritual growth, more family reconcilaition. And then to my surprise, I happened upon a guest post last week here at YIMC by someone I knew well, someone whom I had been estranged from precisely BECAUSE of our political differences!! Thanks to YIMC (I sent her your thread some months back), we again are united in faith — forget the politics. So Webster, your post today is 'on point' in a most personal and tangible way. Thanks to YIMC for helping to sharpen the focus on the importance of family OVER politics!Pax Christi.

  • "So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have. But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do." 1 Samuel 8:4-9It's amazing how human nature never really changes, isn't it?!

  • Webster Bull

    Mujerlatina, I keep being amazed at how this little blog about personal faith has its effects, without ever intending to. I am happy that you were reconciled to a friend through a guest post we published.I share your desire to turn off politics most of the time; but I'd like to share with you something beautiful that my friend Lorenzo (cited in the post) sent me after I published this. I think it may suggest the proper place and positioning of politics in our lives as Christians. Lorenzo wrote:"I think that we need to help each other not to go from an idolatry position (Obama=hope) to a European cynical position (hope does not exist). Christ gave Himself to us, so we need to ask everything from our senators, friends,colleagues, etc… But knowing that who is going to answer to the heart is Christ. From a certain point of view, we Christians expect more from our politicians (as well from our physicians, musicians etc..) than people who do not know Christ, just because our desire, our heart is awaiting much more now than before. It just happened in our life that Christ came, and we understand that happiness is possible, so every human effort (even to change a state, a country and the world) is possible and not stupid superficiality if we face Christ. He is the change, and every human effort is reasonable and most welcome because of this Encounter we had. How beautiful, reasonable and promising is to be Christian today in our society!"Pax Christi.

  • Webster Bull

    KrisNicole,Thanks for your comment. I have been amazed reading the liturgy during the past few days how many references I hear to a God-centered politics. There are the daily mass readings from Samuel. And the readings in the Office from Deuteronomy, including today's instruction, my favorite line perhaps in the whole Bible, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart [and so on]." And then there's my (current) favorite psalm 37 in Tuesday's Office: "Do not fret because of the wicked…" And on and on. The messages are always new.

  • @ Webster: What a great blurb from Lorenzo! I strive to keep Christ as central. PS: THE VIDEO CLIP from the CL monsignor was more than enjoyable for me. His Neopolitan inflection and turn-of-phrase really captured the essence of the man's spirituality. Stay tuned for my "CL impressions" on another comment later.Pax Christi and AGGIORNAMENTO!!!

  • EPG

    At the risk of getting political, I'll add the following, which I hope all will take as a statement about politics in the larger sense, not strictly partisan.In the end, there is (naturally) no hope in any government, or in any mortal running a government. I think it is Chesterton (in "The Everlasting Man") who points out that governments, and even civilizations, are mortal. Each will decline, and eventually die. It is only individual humans who are created for eternity.One of the great aspects of the ongoing American experiment is this: our Founders implicitly recognized this. Therefore, they recognized that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights (see the Declaration of Independence) — the rights are not the grant of the state, or of a king, but from God. And, therefore, the Bill of Rights is structured as a series of limitations on government action, not as a guarantee of government largesse. In addition, because we have historically had a limited government, we have also had a history of strong non-governmental organizations, including churches, fraternal organizations, and other types of groups, to promote all sorts of public goods that, in Europe, were often supplied exclusively by the state. As our government has grown, many among us have looked to it for more and more, and place more and more trust in its ability to improve (and even perfect our condition). This reached something of a climax at the time of the election of Mr. Obama to the presidency, and so we had silliness such as the infamous description of him as a "light worker" in one newspaper editorial.This week's election may be a small sign that we have retreated from that kind of silliness, and that we are less willing to expect so much of our politicians, or our government.Which is why the stories in the news recently of the continued religious faith of many in Haiti is moving. They live in a failed state, under a series of governments that have been corrupt, oppressive, and unable (or unwilling) to generate even minimal infrastructure. Yet there these people are, singing in praise, and in hope.