Hoping in Christ While Lost in the Cosmos
“Christians are to be people of hope,” stated Father Christopher Cullen in the beginning of his lecture on Pope Benedicts XVI’s Spe Salvi entitled “Hoping in Christ While Lost in the Cosmos.” Held in Mcguire Hall, Father Cullen’s lecture was the first of a series of lectures being held at Loyola about the connection between Catholic faith and hope. It is hope that serves as the distinguishing mark that unites all Catholics. Father Cullen pointed out that is was the Apostle Paul who first made the connection between salvation and hope. Paul said that through hope we are to be saved (saved in hope). In his lecture, Father Cullen attempted (with great success) to answer the question of how hope in a future good can save us in the present.
According to both Father Cullen and Pope Benedict, we find ourselves in a society where Christians often live without hope. Because hope is born only when we are dealing with that which is difficult to attain, we often only strive for what is easy. It was Thomas Aquinas who believed that hope goes hand in hand with desire. This desire is the want of a difficult yet absent good. Unfortunately our desires have been lead astray from that which is good by material possessions among other things. We have come to rely on the profits of both politics and science, yet neglect to see their limitations. The Pope writes that we have fallen victim to the various hopes of modernity that have ultimately proven themselves false and in doing so we have given into the opposite of hope: despair. And yet as both Pope Benedict in his encyclical and Father Cullen in his lecture have made clear, not all hope is lost. Cullen stated that by accepting God into our lives we are accepting salvation. Thus the hope (and faith) that we put in God has the power to not only save us in the future but to guide us in our everyday lives as well. It is through this hope that the quality of life improves and the salvation of tomorrow presents itself today.
Combined with the importance of justice through service in Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s essay, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” we are presented with the entire call of what it means to be Catholic. As Catholics we are called to uphold our beliefs not only through prayer and praise but through our daily acts as well. To simply have faith is not enough. In an age where injustice often goes unnoticed or ignored it is up to those who have hope in a better future to act today. Father Cullen said that the road to salvation is active meaning that we cannot simply sit and watch as the rest of the world disintegrates. Those who wish to be saved, or rather those who have faith must take it upon themselves to act. It is through the actions of the just that hope will be restored to all and salvation will be attained.
While these thoughts may seem like the ranting of a deranged door-to-door Bible salesman, the message is simple: to attain a brighter future we must first have faith, and once we act upon this faith the future we hope for will make itself present today. Or even simpler: having faith in heaven and acting just will prove the quality of life on earth.