Monday, December 8, 2014

Embracing the Future, Hidden Glory, with Hope (3 of 3)

 Amidst a crazy storm, such peace, joy, and embracing the future with real hope.

The three aims of the Year of Consecrated Life, to look at the past with thanksgiving, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope, beautifully coincide with St Bernard's "three comings of Christ" from his Advent Sermon. This is the third of a three part series reflecting on this.

How do we Embrace the Future with Hope?

We read on Easter Sunday:
"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4
Notice how it begins in the past tense, "you have been raised with Christ," describing what grace has already accomplished, present tense,"seek the things that are above," on how to conduct ourselves in light of the past, and in future tense when referring to the fulfillment, "you also will appear with him in glory"?  The past, present, and future, are all "hidden in Christ with God." The way we have access to their meaning is Jesus Christ. He IS their meaning.

We can embrace the future glory with hope because we embrace Christ. A person reveals a lot about themselves when they reveal what they think the future holds. Want to know what the secular world thinks, just look at the wide array of dystopian noir films about how dark and dreary the future will be. Robots will take over the world and destroy it. Tyranny and erratic domination will eventually be the norm of future governments. Man will escape the control of his own capacities and it will ultimately destroy him. Really? Sad to be you if that's what you really think.

However sad this is, it is by far much worse when the prophets of the doom are actually not in the secular world, but in the Church. The forecasters of destruction often are lacking one simple thing: HOPE. They do not see the future hidden in Christ with God because they do not see the past or present that way. They do not see. As Pope St John XXIII said,
"At times we have to listen, much to our regret, to the voices of people who, though burning with zeal, lack a sense of discretion and measure. In this modern age they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin … We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand."
Guess what? The end of the world is at hand. Jesus ushered in the end times, and there have been wars and rumors of wars, and nations rising against nations, great distress for the past two thousand years. What do you do about it? That is the real question. Of course we live each day as if it were our last, of course we live as if Jesus is coming back soon, hopefully very soon, but that doesn't mean that you sow seeds of discord, breed malcontent, and get busy hatin', or even go so far as attack the Holy Father because you think the Church is falling apart. Man has always been falling apart.

The good news is that God is alive and very active in his Church. This is the message that a consecrated person is supposed to broadcast with all of their actions and words, especially those on social media. They are to be prophets of the living Mercy of God, not prophets of doom.

The future: the priestly candidates I live with and serve,
the hope of the Church.
The good news that allows us to embrace the future in hope is especially visible in a seminary. Here newly professed consecrated men are discerning and preparing to become priests. Pope Francis gave a special message to young consecrated persons in his letter for the Year of Consecrated Life:
"I would especially like to say a word to those of you who are young. You are the present, since you are already taking active part in the lives of your Institutes, offering all the freshness and generosity of your “yes”. At the same time you are the future, for soon you will be called to take on roles of leadership in the life, formation, service and mission of your communities. This Year should see you actively engaged in dialogue with the previous generation. In fraternal communion you will be enriched by their experiences and wisdom, while at the same time inspiring them, by your own energy and enthusiasm, to recapture their original idealism. In this way the entire community can join in finding new ways of living the Gospel and responding more effectively to the need for witness and proclamation."
The young have much to offer and much to teach us. There are a few men living in my house who are constantly sowing seeds of hope. By their idealism, their way of moving that reveals they actually believe that with God all things are possible, by their moral uprightness and desire for what is good, they cannot help but engender hope. The young are a gift of hope to us.

This is also true of young institutes and societies. I have great hope for my own community, for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity because it is so young, only 56 years old, and you could say that it can offer the Church the "freshness and generosity" while being open to be guided by older communities in the Church, "enriched by their experiences and wisdom, while at the same time inspiring them, by [its] own energy and enthusiasm." 

God of course is my hope, which lies hidden in Christ with God, but he uses my community to be a living sign, to BE a tangible, incarnate embrace of the future with hope. I pray fervently for my community every day, that each and every single person, priest, consecrated person, and lay person may show the Church how to embrace the future with a living hope.

May all communities, young and old, bear great fruitfulness in the witness of the good things yet to come. May Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity bring about that communion of religious families for mutual enrichment and hope.

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