Advent Message From Marist School President Fr. Bill Rowland, S.M.
The season of Advent encourages us to hope, but what is hope?
The Catholic Church calls hope a theological virtue. That means it comes to us through the infusion of grace. Hope is to desire and expect from God both eternal life (heaven) and the grace to achieve it. To live in hope is to live so that everything we do on earth is done with our eyes fixed on that horizon. However, that does not give us a free pass from being engaged with this world.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, St. John-Paul II, St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and all the saints are examples of believers who lived for heaven. They also lived on earth and directed their love, another theological virtue, toward making it mirror the heavenly reality that lies beyond this earthly one so that God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Our hope rests in Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us where, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into our heart the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2: 9) Well and good but if heaven is “up there,” how do we reach it?
Mountain climbers take one step at a time, often hanging on for dear life, but always with their eye on the prize, and that is to reach the summit. They can look beyond the present moment of pain or danger and see the reason for continuing the climb, one painful step at a time.
The pandemic presents us with a mountain of challenges and difficulties. But for the person of faith, the real challenge is to live our lives so that God may see and love in us what he sees and loves in Christ and find us worthy to be with Him in heaven. That is a tall mountain to climb with or without a pandemic.
Should you be tempted to abandon that climb, I encourage you to turn to Mary. Pope Francis puts it this way: "In moments of difficulty, Mary, the Mother Jesus, has been given to us all, can always support our steps, can always say to our heart: 'Get up! Look ahead, look at the horizon,' because she is the Mother of Hope."
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