The opening of the Berlin wall was a key event in bringing down the terror of communism in Europe associated with this time was the velvet or gentle Revolution Czechoslovakia in 1989. One of the key figures in the nonviolent revolution was Vaclav Havel, the first president of former Czechoslovakia after it gained its freedom from Communism. He was in prison by Communist authorities from 1979 to 1984. He kept his hope in working for his people. He wrote, “the more difficult the situation is in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is.”
Hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism is thinking that something will turn out well. Hope is the conviction that something makes sense and has meaning regardless of how it turns out.
The Catholic catechism also has some powerful words on hope (1818) “ the virtue of hope is associated with the hunger for happiness which God has placed in the heart of every person. Hope keeps a person from discouragement. It sustains a person during times of abandonment. It opens up his or her heart to the expectation of eternal blessings. The person is steered away from selfishness and led to the happiness that comes from giving of self to others.”
Such thoughts about hope are important as we enter the season of Advent. Each year in Advent and Christmas we are pressured by commercials towards the ways of nostalgia and for traditions of Christmas long ago but for Catholics, Advent is not about nostalgia but about the future.
From God’s graces, we get stirrings within us to reconcile with others and set things right, to get closer to Christ and his Church, to be at peace inside of ourselves. These are not just memories. Rather they are expressions of the drive,
the search, the need to fulfill something deep and holy that exists inside of us.
In our usual busyness of day-to-day life these grace -filled strains are beaten up and put down. We can become cynical and hard-nosed but during Advent these stirrings of grace within us come into our consciousness again. It is like cleaning off old brass, beneath the tarnish is the brightness – signs of the new creation we can be in Christ.
Advent is a chance to make time, to find time, to create time for those stirrings of Christ’s grace to be front and centre in our lives. We may have to clear away some debris, some clutter in our attitudes, some behaviors and sins that obstruct the way of the Lord. That clearing away of sin is the prelude to a new start of faith- filled living.
Excerpt from Fr Stanley Galvon’s Homily
9:30am Mass, 1st Sunday of Advent