Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Because Hope is There, but Not Where We Look

After the votes were counted last night and after I was asleep, my iPhone received two text messages from my friend Lorenzo, who never sleeps. The first was “Brown WINS Massachusetts!!!!! Yeah!!!!” The second was: “Americans with this understood that Obama is not the answer to the hope, it is the end of the idea of Obama holding the hope.”

We do not “do” politics at YIM Catholic. Neither Frank nor I endorsed a candidate. (Like, who would care?) But the remarkable thing about Lorenzo’s exultant messages is, they are not political either.

I am one of the millions who hoped in Obama a year ago. Note that I did not say I voted for him (that’s my business). But I allowed myself to hope that, with his election, things would be different now. I bought into the belief that a political solution—which is to say, any “final answer” formulated by government—can change the world.

A couple of things happened since that election a year ago. First, I became ever more convinced of the wisdom of the Church’s positions on social issues. Second, and far more important to this discussion, I read and studied with my local School of Community Fr. Luigi Giussani’s second book in the trilogy Is It Possible to Live This Way? The second book is titled Hope.

To get straight to it, hope, according to Fr. G, is founded in faith, and faith is founded in a fact. That fact is the Incarnation, the Presence of Our Lord in the world, two thousand years ago and today. The only real hope must be built on this foundation. While I have not yet read the third book in the trilogy, Charity, I am expecting it to tell me that “the form of all virtues” can only be built on a foundation containing Christian faith and hope.

In the the so-called Fraternity Exercises from a CL meeting in 2009, Giussani’s successor, Fr. Juliàn Carròn, makes an even more challenging assertion. He writes (and I am paraphrasing) that not even Catholics’ defense of life can stand apart from this foundation. Without true hope founded on faith in the fact of Christ’s presence in our lives, no political position will stand up against the winds that blow. I urge you to read some of Fr. Carròn’s words in the pdf document at the link in this paragraph.

I pray for our President daily, as I’m sure Frank does, and as the liturgy of the Mass does too. But here and now I make a pledge: I will not hope in him or in any President any longer. And I’m sorry to tell you, Scott Brown, senator-elect, but I promise not to hope in you either.