Editorial: AA-Info, July 2022
The anchor of hope
The Church that we love is being strongly challenged by a series of dramatic events. Since the frightening revelations of the abuse crisis, we have been subjected to a profound questioning of our Catholic faith by the world. But it is in the midst of this trial that we are called to stand. I like the image used by the Letter to the Hebrews, which speaks of hope as a ship’s anchor thrown beyond the curtain of the temple and which fixes us firmly in God: “This is a strong encouragement to us who have sought refuge in the hope that was offered to us and which we have grasped. This hope we hold as a sure and firm anchor for the soul; it enters beyond the curtain into the Sanctuary where Jesus entered for us as a forerunner, he who became a high priest of the order of Melkizedek for all eternity. (Heb 6:18-20).
Our times are stormy. We feel as if we are capsizing, losing our footing, sinking. But the anchor of hope anchors us strongly in the very life of God. Of course, I am not saying that we just wait for the storm to pass and then everything will be better. I am convinced that we must act now and work for the renewal of our world and our Church. Some sociologists speak of the implosion of Catholicism to describe its inevitable decline. (1) Their analysis is interesting and it is necessary to know it. Our Christian faith impels us to act for renewal, and despite the wounds we have, because of the miseries of the times, we are sure that God continues to sustain us. I believe that Pope Francis is the pastor we need to move forward in the new times. The establishment of a greater synodality is the necessary condition to overcome the disastrous clericalism. We are a people of brothers and sisters, and each has his or her rightful place in the life of the Church. There is no difference in dignity between the baptized persons and each one is useful for the growth of the body of Christ.
The Assumption has been practicing synodality for many years. As Fr. Athanase Sage wrote, Emmanuel d’Alzon had already insisted in the Constitutions of 1855 on our fundamental characteristics as religious and our lifestyle: “love for Our Lord, fraternal charity all of frankness, openness and freedom of heart; close solidarity between the religious and lay members of the association, united in a common consecration to the coming of the reign of Our Lord.” (2) This close solidarity is a synodal path.
I do not believe in the disappearance of the Church. I am convinced that the Lord is always present with us and that he never ceases to lavish his tenderness on his People. But we have an emergency: to live the conversion of hearts. This requires a radical change in our lives. A prophetic hope characterizes religious life. It is an expectation of the Kingdom and also a manifestation of it. If we have the will to go forward, firmly attached to our anchor of hope, then we will reach beyond the curtain of the Temple. I hope that each one of us will live in truth this urgent call to conversion. On our determined action depends the future of the Church and therefore also the future of our world. On August 15, I will be present at the Assumption Pilgrimage in Lourdes. The theme is: “With Mary, let us become witnesses of hope”. I will pray for each of you, that Mary will help us to live the witness of an unfailing faith lived in hope and charity.
Father Benoît Grière, General Superior
(1) Danièle HervieuLéger, Jean-Louis Schlegel, Vers l’implosion ? Entretiens sur le présent et l’avenir du catholicisme, Seuil, 2022.
(2) Emmanuel d’Alzon, Premières constitutions des Augustins de l’Assomption. 1855-1865, edition presented and annotated by Frs. Athanase Sage and Pierre Touveneraud, Rome, 1966.
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