Brian’s Reflection: Friday, August 26, 2011
Not everyone shares this sympathy of mine for hope. Nietzsche, for example,
calls it the “virtue of the weak”. … In the course of the centuries there have
also appeared from time to time affirmations and tendencies of Christians that
were too pessimistic with regard to man. But these affirmations were disapproved
by the Church and were forgotten, thanks to a host of joyful and hardworking
saints, to Christian humanism, to ascetic teachers … and to a comprehensive
theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, puts among the virtues jucunditas
or the capacity of changing things heard and seen into a cheerful smile … When
St. Thomas declared that joking and making people smile was a virtue, he was in
agreement with the “glad tidings” preached by Christ, and with the hilaritas
recommended by St. Augustine. He overcame pessimism, clothed Christian life
in joy and invited us to keep up our courage also with the healthy, pure joys,
which we meet on our way.
Pope John Paul I. He was elected Pope on this date, 1978; He died 33 days later.
A long quote, I know. I regret few things ….. but I regret that this man had such a short pontificate. Something tells me that he would have joined Pope John XXIII as one of my heroes.
I find such a grimness in so many communities of faith today. They seem to have lost their way, mired in ugly politics and the preservation of worldly power and in the ugly theologies that rationalize them. I wish there were some way that I could send these words of John Paul I to every person of faith for them to meditate on today, as I hold them up to myself and to you.
I had a lovely moment today. Dennis and I took Holy Communion to one of our fellow parishioners. His caregiver Michael was there, and was wearing on a chain around his neck a small picture of a smiling woman. It was Amma, known as the “hugging saint”, of whom Michael is a devotee. She smiles and hugs people with loving devotion; it’s her life and work ….. but she also gathers millions to help the poor and destitute. She changes peoples’ lives.
Simple “healthy pure joys” that instill hope. I’m with John Paul I; I share his sympathy for Hope as a light to the human spirit. And for the way that Hope stirs us to compassion for each other.
Jucunditas and hilaritas. I’d like to be known for them both.