Feb. 26, 2014
By Father William Muench
I must admit that I am an Olympics junkie. I love everything and have watched everything I could. I also found it interesting to learn all about the various athletes, no matter what country they represented.
Of course, I did try to follow the Olympians from the Adirondacks. I found the hockey games exciting and I was thrilled by the speed of the skiers, but I must admit I also enjoyed the figure skating and even the curling.
I certainly want to offer my congratulations to all the Olympians – no matter how successful they were. They qualified for the Olympics and that is very special.
I want to congratulate them all for their dedication and determination in becoming successful. They each spent many years of training to prepare for this year’s games.
I have often used in my homilies the dedication of these Olympic athletes as a model – especially for young people – in putting that same kind of dedication in their Christian faith. May our young people live good lives with the dedication and determination of an Olympic athlete.
I was intrigued by the hope that all these Olympians displayed. Each of them was always going their best hoping to win a gold medal. The television announcer may think they didn’t have a chance – but they came to their event ready to surprise us all – and there were many surprises.
Hope is important for success for an Olympic athlete. I want to remind you all today that hope is important for a disciple of Jesus, for a dedicated Christian.
I recently discovered a fine definition for hope. I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals” about Abraham Lincoln and challenges as president.
In a chapter that concerned Lincoln’s difficult days during the War, she helps us realize his continuing hopes for success for reunification of the country. He often quoted a certain Daniel Goleman – “Hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, a depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks. Hope is more than a sunny view that everything will turn out all right; it is believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.”
The Catholic Church has faced many difficult times in its history. Many see only problems for our Church now. They are anxious about various difficulties that the Church must face.
As Catholics, we are people of faith, and so we trust God, believing we will have the will and the way to accomplish our goals. Jesus came to be our guide and leader. Jesus promised, “Do not be afraid, I will be with you until the end of time.”
In these present times, I recognize a new hope in our Church with the election of Pope Francis. He has brought a new Spirit – a spirit that challenges us all: our Church leaders, our Bishops, all of us People of God, giving us a new confidence that good things will happen. Pope Francis constantly brings a message of joy and hope for the future. He challenges us all, priests and people to make our Church better and better in every way,caring for the needy, for the poor, bringing Christ’s message of love and peace to all peoples, Catholics and others. May we be open to listen to our Pope and live in the spirit of our Savior in love and peace.
Speaking of hope, I find a great deal of hope in the initiative of our own Bishop, Bishop LaValley, in his many efforts to bring new life to our diocese. In his Listening Sessions this past year, he invited us all, the people of this diocese, to express our hopes and dreams for our Catholic Church in the North Country. Soon, we will learn of the results of the Envisioning program. May it produce new challenges for all of us, priests and people to bring new life and spirit to our diocese. May we all be open and ready to carry out these challenges.
Jesus came to this earth to bring hope to all people. In our day, the Lord continually comes to us to give us hope – hope to have the confidence to make our Church more alive and our world a better place.