Optimism and Hope

by: Rev. Christopher P. Foustoukos Proistamenos

May and June are months for graduations from high schools, col- leges, professional schools like nursing and the like. They are months of wed- dings, baptisms, signing up for summer camps and volunteering. At a time when some people are just hanging out and doing nothing or looking for instant success and quick money, there are many people dedicating their lives to something higher. They realize life must hold more than instant success and easy money. They reject these values and strive after something more long lasting even at the expense of self- sacrifice, inconvenience and suffering.

A seminarian looks at his future ministry and pulls it into the present – the four or seven long years at seminary, and his present assumes meaning. A student nurse thinks of the thousands of patients he or she will care for and help – the many long hours of difficult study and training they must go through now make sense. A young June bride envisions her future family with all the grief, trepidation and joy that this brings – she then has the courage to make her marriage grow by working at it every day.

We are living in a time of great anxiety. We see many young people involved in violence. A young child disappears off the beach in Gloucester. Young people are making headlines because their addictions have lead them to bullying, robbery, murder, impaired driving, and teen pregnancy. These are indeed challenging and troubling times.

But the mature person is one who takes a hard look at their challenges and troubles instead of running away from them. A mature person builds on hope, instead of wallowing in despair and self pity. The character of a mature person urges them to seek solutions for today’s questions instead of parroting back the answers of yesterday. Well developed Orthodox Christians are those who employ the challenging call of Christ’s Gospel as they attempt to work out the problems of life.

War, economic upheaval, bullying in schools, misuse of alcohol and drugs, sexual promiscuity, terrorism, world hunger and revolutions have forced us to refocus on reality and rephrase our questions. The questions are not “why do so many people (both young and old) resort to violence,” but rather “what does life in the 21st century have to offer that could be more soothing and all solving as violence.” Certainly, we can replace the word violence in these last two questions with any of our challenges: bullying, drugs, alcohol, etc. The question is not “how do we maintain a stable community (law and order),” but rather “don’t we realize that we get the kind of society that we individually work for and deserve.” Don’t we realize that there is no one or no group of people charged with an infallible guarantee that everything will work out all right. It depends on us and how we live our lives. This is also a paramount principle in our church community as well!

As long as we still have the ability and the common sense to ask these questions there is room for hope. True peace is built on hope. The meaning of life, suffering, love and self-giving is founded on our hope in Christ. A reorganization of our priorities begins with faith and hope. Today, our hope is located in people. Of all God’s creatures only people have the ability to remember the past and leap ahead into the future and then tie the past and the future together into a meaningful present. We remember Christ’s death. We leap ahead and anticipate His Second Coming in the future. We tie the two together to make today so very meaningful. As long as we still have common sense to ask the right questions, and as long as there are those who place their faith in Christ, then we have every reason to be people of optimism and hope. Christ is Risen! 

+ Fr. Chris

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