Four ingredients of hope

By Julianne Stanz | Special to The Compass | July 11, 2017

Sitting in the airport waiting for a flight one day, I took out my book and began to read. After a few minutes, the gentleman sitting beside me leaned over and said, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice from the cover of your book that you might be a Christian.”

Somewhat startled by his observation I replied “Yes, I am a Christian, in fact, I am a Catholic.”

Can I ask you a question?” the man asked.

“Go ahead,” I replied as I tucked my book into my bag.

“Do you feel hopeful?” he asked.

I was surprised at the question. But taking a deep breath I told him that while I have up and down days like everyone else, for the most part I am filled with hope because of my faith.

As I looked into his face, I sensed that he was struggling with something and so I asked him, “Do you believe in God?” “I’m not sure,” he said. “Sometimes I think that I do, but lately I have not felt his presence in my life. I feel like I have nothing to hope for.”

“Hope has a name,” I told him. “What is it?” he asked. “Jesus,” I said.

We spent the next 50 minutes sitting together and talking. He shared with me the pain of his broken marriage and a job that leaves him feeling empty most of the time. Although he was raised Catholic, he had not been to church in many years. Before he left, I promised him that I would pray for him and I gave him this simple recipe for hope that has been a part of my spiritual life. Hope has four facets, each one revealing something of Jesus:

H: Healing

O: Opportunity

P: Prayer

E: Eucharist

Healing: In the Gospels, we read that Jesus spent about 25 percent of his time healing the blind, the lame, the paralyzed, the hard hearted, the angry and the despairing. He never turned away anyone in need of healing. We might not think of ourselves as needing to be healed, but each one of us carries wounds and sorrows within us that lie close to the surface. Jesus is the ultimate healer and the Divine Physician, and it is by his wounds that we all have been healed (1 Pt 2:24). Ask Jesus to give you healing. One of the best ways to receive healing is in the sacrament of reconciliation or by attending a healing service. Reading the Scriptures and in particular the Beatitudes can be a healing experience.

Opportunity: Mother Teresa once said, “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.” Each day is filled with possibilities, challenges and opportunities to live out our faith. Every day is an opportunity to receive hope and give hope. Take the time to recognize and give thanks to God for each opportunity that comes your way. Gratitude is the key to opportunity. When you feel discouraged remember that Jesus tells us that in this world, “you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Recognize your opportunity to be a bearer of hope to others.

Prayer: God has called us to be in an intimate relationship with him. Prayer is how we nourish this relationship. Take time for silence and prayer every day. If you feel overwhelmed, more prayer — not less — is the remedy.

Eucharist: There is no more personal way to encounter Jesus than in the Eucharist. The risen Christ is truly present in the Eucharist! Go to Mass. If it has been some time, don’t be afraid to come back to the Eucharist. Jesus is waiting for you. Attend Mass as a family and invite a friend, too.

Living in hope means that we can give a name to our hope: Jesus Christ who offers us comfort and strength. Hope is not wishful thinking but a certainty that comes with living a life of faith. Hope is a virtue, a gift given to us by God himself that grows out of faith and manifests itself in love for others. In need of hope? Call upon Jesus.

Stanz is director of the diocesan Department of New Evangelization and co-author of “The Catechist’s Backpack.”

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