The Pope's Message Will Be One of Hope
By Cheryl Dickow
Pope Benedict XVI will address many issues while speaking to thousands of people. With television cameras focused on him and news anchors parsing his every word, Catholics know that our Pope, Vicar of Christ, will speak to issues that are at the very heart of what it means to live as a Christian, a follower of Christ.
In the middle of an election year, and with sides being drawn across the United States, the Pontiff will address such tough issues as marriage between a man and a woman, why pro-life is the only option in regards to the dignity of humans, and he will encourage young and old alike to live out their faith in all the ways and opportunities that God presents. Benedict will have no political agenda but will simply speak the Truth: A Truth that never changes regardless of the political landscape of the time. The Truth of Christ.
The timing of his visit, and message, could not be more providential. More than ever before, we are witnessing the global catastrophes that plague our nation and our world. We are almost paralyzed into inaction by the daily events brought to us in the news, newspaper, and radio.
Indeed, although there are very few things that people would agree upon; it would seem safe to say that we would all agree that there is no shortage of evil acts in our world today. And although that statement could be said, literally, at any point in human history, televised wars, executions, and kidnappings bring these acts of horror into our daily lives and as such have an ability to make us more keenly aware of the atrocities that fill our world. But the Pope will deliver the ultimate message of Christ: Hope.
Reading about the recent events surrounding the death of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho made me wonder if the scales are, indeed, tipping in favor of malevolence and evil. What struck me about Archbishop’s kidnapping and subsequent death was the lack of outrage, shock, and concern in the general population but even more specifically in the Catholic community. The very few articles that I came across, almost all admirably on Catholic.org, even shared that same sentiment. “Where is the outcry?” one article bemoaned. Have we become so complacent that in the face of never-ending tragedies we have stopped making efforts to share and voice our concerns? Have we decided to believe that our small individual Christian acts of goodness don’t or can’t make a difference? In praying for Archbishop Rahho, do we realize that in this day and age Catholics are still dying for their faith? For my faith or your faith? But our beloved Pontiff will remind us that in Christ, we have hope. He will encourage us to live more fully as Catholics; doing good works and embracing our faith for which people are still dying.
This is because Benedict understands that if the scales are indeed tipping in favor of evil, it isn’t be due to dictators, unfair economic conditions set in place by greed and avarice, or even senseless tragedies. No, if the scales are tipping it is because we have forgotten the power, and responsibility, we have as Catholics. We even know we miss out on doing things that ought to be done and consequently ask forgiveness when we say in church, “and all that I have failed to do.” We may rightly assume that we will be forgiven by God but can we forgive ourselves for acts of kindness and compassion left unaccomplished? Will this be our final judgment?
My niece recently visited from Mississippi. She is now a beautiful young lady of fourteen and I was quite honored that she chose to spend her birthday with me in Michigan. Like so many youngsters today, Janna has had her share of hardships and teen difficulties, but most significant in her life was Hurricane Katrina. Janna lived through the fierceness of what Katrina delivered to the gulf coast of Mississippi, which meant that she spent too many hours in what is called the “eye wall” of the hurricane. Complete, total, and utter devastation was wrought upon the coast for miles and miles. It is difficult to comprehend that in a matter of hours hundreds of buildings, many of them dozens of stories tall, were washed to sea or that the hurricane had an effect of such magnitude that many people’s lives have yet to be returned to pre-Katrina days. It is correct to say that people will cling to their faith in times of sadness, distress, or upheaval. That is because faith gives hope. Exactly what Benedict will remind us of over these next few days.
My sweet young niece told me, chided me really, that it was important to live life “out loud.” Katrina taught her that we ought to remember how precious life is, what is important, and how very small acts of kindness can make a difference. Even in the midst of this unending difficulty, my niece knows it is important to have hope.
Indeed, if evil is taking a stronghold it truly isn’t because of the evil-doers. It is because we have forgotten how critical we are in God’s plan for humankind. We aren’t meant to leave our small opportunities to help one another and be kind to our fellow man left alone but to embrace them, to respond to the needs of others: to care and cry out about Rahho’s kidnapping, to help without being asked, to live life “out loud” as Christians. As our beloved Pontiff will most certainly say, it is important to have hope.
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Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic publisher, author, and speaker. Visit her website www.BezalelBooks.com for more information.