Archived Letters from Interim Director Fr. Howell, SJ

In the Footsteps of Jesus: Agents of Hope

Posted by Pat Howell, SJ on Friday, February 1, 2019 at 9:00 AM PST

Take delight in the LORD ,and he will grant you your heart's requests.

Ps 37:4

Here we are 37 days into the new year, and we still have hope! The vocation of religious believers is to be agents of hope. Only with hope can we see our way forward through the murky gloom of fear, anxiety, and hatred. All of these negative emotions block out our deepest desires and yearnings to be one with God, to be one with the universe, and to be at peace with our fellow human beings. And so with hope, we “take delight in the Lord” for another month!

The Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture provides guideposts for the journey of hope. On February 12 we feature the nationally renowned ecclesiologist Dr. Richard Gaillardetz of Boston College on the knotty theme of the sexual abuse crisis: “How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go to Move Forward?” And even more urgent and poignant is the dire situation of immigrants at our borders. We will feature Joanna Williams from the Kino Border Initiative, sponsored by the Society of Jesus, on the theme of “Journeys of Hope and Hopelessness: Experiences on the USA/Mexico Border.”  The public lecture is Wednesday, February 13. More information about both events is detailed below.

These issues can seem intractable, impossible, overwhelming, but it’s important for us to take whatever small steps forward that are available to us, even in limited circumstances. Jesus, after all, never did get to Rome or Athens, the leading cultural and political centers of his day. Rather step by step, he spread his message of love, of healing, and reconciliation in a small, little backwater of a country. And where he walked, he stirred up the dust, and nothing was ever the same again.

In addition to these campus events, I’ll be giving a talk on the “History of Reforms in the Church and How to Shape the Future” at Assumption Parish, March 9, sponsored by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center. My thesis is that practically every major reform of the Church that addressed the abuse of that era led in the future to further abuses or problems. And hence another round of reforms is regularly needed. The Protestant dictum of a Church “reformed, but always reforming” is right on the money and a good challenge to Catholics who formerly prided their Church, in a naïve, ahistorical claim, of “never changing.”  I’ll give a modified version of the lecture at Seattle University at noon on April 3.

Meanwhile, keep hope alive,

Patrick Howell, S.J., interim director
Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture