National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Inside NCR
Issue Date:  October 10, 2003

From the Editor's Desk

There is something in the Catholic Christian soul that yearns for a community of the like-minded as a means to mission and salvation.

Some might say the monastic tradition is the most endearing and enduring expression of that impulse -- Catholicism’s superglue.

We have the congregations of women religious who built the U.S. Catholic church, schoolhouse, orphanage and hospital brick by brick.

We relish the gospel-focused lay groups formed around issues; the parish families that see themselves -- and live and work -- as committed communities.

And in Los Angeles, we see the spirit rising afresh, in a setting as new as it is old (see Page 8). The Friars and Sisters of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles are a community with some differences. Poverty isn’t one of the vows. Self-sufficiency is one of the requirements!

More than this, however, while there have been a number of small new orders of sisters formed in the past decade or so, new male communities have been rare.

Meantime, a benediction from us all on those who dedicate their lives caring for the sick, the poor and the sick poor.

~ ~ ~

I wish I had more room to run out the responses that have come in on my questions of a few weeks ago about hope. It isn’t possible to print them all at once, so I’ll pass them along one or two at a time. Let me say, my mornings have been more inspired and hope-filled because of what you have written. And they’re still coming in -- even the message from the person who wrote, if you can believe it, a somewhat “morose” (his characterization) reflection on hope.

OK, I’ll stop. But first, an apology for the cuts I’ll have to make to fit in some of your reflections.

From Fr. Paul F. McDonald of San Antonio: “Hope engulfs me throughout my day. So much of nature speaks hopefully to me, from the singing of the birds, the laughter of children to the occasional straight drive on the golf course. The Psalms and Lamentations provide vivid images of people who at times were angry with God and yet felt comfortable enough to reach out to him knowing that even ‘though I walk through a dark valley, I fear no evil for you are at my side.’

“To live without hope must be a living death. It is giving up on God who moves in and through our lives in so many ways if we’d just take the time to notice. In the aftermath of the clergy sex abuse scandals, our people feel beaten down and somewhat angry at what they read and hear from the media that seems to relish reporting the bad news in the church. Our people need to hear hopeful messages from their bishops and clergy, that God has not abandoned us because he is an active player in all the events happening around us. Just as God entered the lives of our ancestors in times of crisis, God continues to enter our lives as well.

“I strongly believe the Holy Spirit is very much involved in our church. My hope for a better future is uplifted when I witness the involvement of our laity in not only a wide variety of parish ministries and ACTS retreat weekends but also in reaching into the larger community in programs from Habitat for Humanity and jail ministry to battered women’s shelter and St. Vincent de Paul kitchen.

“My hope is that another leader will soon surface like Pope John XXIII who in the early ’60s said that ‘The council now beginning rises in the church like daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light. It is now only dawn.’ ”

And from Larry Hoge of Brandon, Fla.: “Hope is seeing the possibility of salvation. NCR does that for me in its extensive reports of the many and varied ministries done by people of faith, especially for the poor and disenfranchised.”


National Catholic Reporter, October 10, 2003

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