Columnists Mark my words

Where there’s life in the church, there’s hope

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Sometimes the Holy Spirit has to knock on my heart several times before I actually “get it.” That’s certainly been the case lately, when the news regarding the Catholic Church has been so bad.

It’s so easy to let the pall of sadness to settle over our conversations, thoughts and hearts. The agonizing sufferings of so many victims worldwide is overwhelming and depressing. The desire to shut out the world or escape to some remote island seems so tempting.

When our anger is exhausted and our tears are spent, we seem to be left with nothing.

And that’s where the Holy Spirit has been working on me.

It started with a refrigerator magnet from The Christophers, an organization whose mission is “to encourage people of all ages, and from all walks of life, to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world.”

I got up the other night when I couldn’t sleep and noticed something remarkable: That magnet glows in the dark! And the main word printed on the top of it?


I’ve also been passing by a novel that’s on top of my “to read” pile. Its title is “Hope Never Dies.”

Then there’s the memorial of St. Monica celebrated last Monday. What better example of hope is there? For years, she prayed and cried and cried and prayed for her wayward son Augustine to become a Christian. Ultimately, she was consoled by a bishop who said: “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” And her hope and tears were rewarded.

Then, the first reading the next day on the feast day of St. Augustine proclaimed: “Stand firm and hold fast” (2 Thes 2: 15).

Hmm, I thought, maybe the Spirit is trying to say something to my spirit. Something like: DON’T LOSE HOPE!

Recalling the Gospel readings these past several weeks where Jesus says he is the living bread, the bread of life, I had to ask: If I really believe in that power of the Eucharist, then how can I be hopeless?

It reminded me of a story about some Italian prisoners of World War II, confined to a bare island called Lamb Holm, off the cold shores of northeast Scotland. They’re remembered because of something they left behind: a tiny chapel. The prisoners built it with their own hands out of anything that they could find, like scraps of wood and the tin cans their rations came in.

Why did they build it? It’s probable that these same men, back home in normal times, rarely darkened a church door. But now, this tiny church became a sign — of God, and all that God in Christ came to mean: Hope. Deliverance. A power above us, within us, greater than all our troubles. (Story adapted from “The Chapel” in William J. Bausch’s “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers.”)

On our own, there’s no possible way that the wounds of the church can be fixed by our human efforts alone. But hearts, minds and souls open to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit can make even what seems impossible, possible.

Hope is a light clearly shining in the darkness, much like that glowing magnet stuck to my refrigerator. It’s given me the grace to go forward with these words:

“Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst. Hope opens doors where despair closes them. Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature. Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities. Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit. Hope ‘lights a candle’ instead of ‘cursing the darkness.’”

By our compassion and conversion, our contrition and commitment, let’s give hope, now more than ever, a chance to spread its wings again.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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