Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living With Hope

A million-book best seller helps greatly in bringing other books by the author to the attention of the public. Fr. Cha Dong-yeop, a priest of the Inchon diocese, wrote the best seller Blessing of the Rainbow, and now the Catholic Times reviews his new book, Return of Hope.

Father Cha is the founder and head of the Future Pastoral Institute. His new book treats 
hope as the answer to our many problems.Those in their 20s and 30s, he says, have tasted the bitterness of the ever-present competition; those in their 40s, in search of success, have been overcome with fatigue and are worn out; and those in their 50s and 60s feel left out of society's mainstream.These characteristics are our self portrait, he says.To deal with these problems, he says, is to find hope in what appears to be hopeless situations. 

We are programed to be happy, to love and have peace, he says, but instead these values are trumped by a society that induces us to run after money and success.  The result is fatigue, overwork, and frustration; the antidote we are given is to seek solace and healing. For Fr. Cha, however, the answer is in the return of hope.

As sure as we are that  spring follows winter, we have to awaken the hope that remains within us, says Fr. Cha. We have been made in the likeness of God, with the capacity to love and create, as we continue the creation that God started. This ability is hidden within us but with our dreams nourished by hope it comes out to the light.

He makes a distinction between hopes and dreams: hopes being abstract affirmations of the future and dreams being formulations of goals to work toward. Hope is the more important of the two since it precedes the other as an affirmation of what lies deepest in us, and makes possible the ability to dream. Included with the hope, he says, are all the obstacles we encounter in life. When we are energized by hope, dreams materialize. The aim is to free the hope that is within everyone; too many have hope within easy reach, he says, and yet complain of its absence.

The spurs to hope can be found all around us,  and we do not see them and so keep on looking. We are so concerned about so many things that we miss the opportunities that come to us. The article concludes with the words of St. Peter (I Peter 3:15), "Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply...."   Christians have to be specialists in the field of hope, Fr. Cha reminds us.

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