Hope Amidst Hopelessness
An apocryphal quote about the Titanic reads, “God himself cannot sink this ship.” A more intriguing statement is similar without the blasphemy. Jesus guarantees that the gates of hell
shall not prevail against the Catholic Church (cf. Mt. 16:19). The Devil himself cannot sink the Church. Is the hope reasonable?
Chesterton writes, “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.” John the Baptist was on Herod’s death row, having no hope of saving his life. Thoughtful Catholics—and many Americans—have the same anxiety. Things are hopeless. Is there reason to despair?
The Woke religion has occupied the culture. Any resistance enrages our rulers and provokes their legislative wrath. Every Democrat in Congress—(even a handful of Catholic Republicans) voted for pro-LGBTQ abomination. It’s official. Without dissent, the Democrats are the party of perversion.
Many Catholics—including prominent Catholic clergy—have joined the ranks of anti-Catholic Catholics. Nothing new there. Gentile nations occupied the crossroads of the Middle East. During the Macedonian Greek occupation, many upper-class elite Jews, anxious to get along, covered up the marks of their circumcision and joined the Gentiles for fellowship and job opportunities. Many Catholics also cover up the marks of their Baptisms and join an anti-Catholic culture.
Here is a complaint about a funeral celebration in a Catholic parish:
“I am a catholic. There was a quote in the funeral pamphlet regarding communion: ‘According to the catholic tradition and discipline, only catholics in good standing may receive communion. We welcome our guests, however, and invite them to make a spiritual communion and unite themselves with us in prayer.’ I was so terribly offended by the priest of the parish. Since when does a priest deny the parish to receive communion? I pray that the lord forgives that priest.
The note helps us to begin to understand the Crucifixion: “Pilate again said to them, ‘… what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?’ … ‘Crucify him.’ And Pilate said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him.’” (Mk. 15:11-14)
Of course, the future is bleak! The Book of Revelation takes a peek. A foul and malignant sore afflicts the followers of the Beast. The waters turn to blood, and everything within it dies. The sun scorches the earth. There is total darkness and great pain. Kings prepare for the final battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil. Inescapable hopelessness, but at least a climate change we can believe in.
Who is responsible? Blame the fallen angels, our First Parents, Original Sin, and our inherited nasty traits. Cain murders Abel. Wickedness provokes God to destroy the world with the Great Flood. Jacob’s sons accost and abandon their brother Joseph and flee to Egypt. The rebellious Israelites squander their Chosen People status.
King David’s adultery and murder almost derail his messianic dynasty. The apostasy of Solomon divides the kingdom. The Israelites suffer the Babylonian Exile. God raises a few powerful prophetic voices to defend His Commandments, but they mostly fail. Hopeless.
Yet Providence triumphs. Abraham becomes the father of nations. The righteous Noah and company survive. Moses herds the stiff-necked Israelites, and the Chosen People safely arrive in the Promised Land. After Nathan’s courageous indictment, King David and his House prepare to receive the Messiah. The Prophets faithfully preach to break the obtuse spirit of Israel. God restores Israel after the Exile. Synagogues—like Catholic churches in the 1950s—multiply for Sabbath worship. Even a corrupt vassal king, Herod, manages to build a majestic Temple for Jewish worship.
Mary and her parents, Joachim and Ann, thrive in the unruly village of Nazareth with faithfulness and virtue despite the elites. Many Jews hold fast to the messianic faith and follow John the Baptist. John electrifies his followers and courageously rejects the agents of evil: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Mt. 3:7) The Jewish faith provides a muscular manger to receive the newborn Messiah.
Nevertheless, evil never sleeps. Herod the Great murders the Holy Innocents, and his son murders John. Intellectuals hostile to Jesus emerged among the elites—Pharisees, Sadducees, and the chief priests—demanding the crucifixion of Jesus. High-ranking leaders in the Church worry more about climate change and LGBTQ rights than God’s Commandments.
Yes, the situation is hopeless. Without the virtue of hope, the hopelessness of our condition is despair. Despair insults God’s mighty deeds and promises, and self-absorbed despondency displaces God and becomes a form of self-worship. Despair is a terrible violation of the First Commandment. (But experience suggests that despairing young pagans who have never known Jesus are more likely to convert than those who have grown lukewarm in the faith.)
With John, our hope consists of looking to Jesus: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3) Jesus fulfills Isaiah and all of the Scriptures in response to John: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Mt. 11:4-6) Heartened with hope amidst hopelessness John’s violent end becomes his crown of glory. Compromise is not an option if you’re the mother of the Maccabees, John the Baptist, or an orthodox Catholic.
“And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’” (Mk. 4:37-40)
We found this article on CatholicCulture.org Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines.
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