Hope in Dark Times

Whatever one thinks about Brexit, no one can be indifferent to last night’s events in the House of Commons. Yet again we have been reminded that representative democracy (e.g. Parliament) and direct democracy (e.g. Referenda) do not sit very well together. We are now faced with a situation the majority of us feel we can do nothing to improve and which promises only more uncertainty and, indeed, suffering and loss. The human face of the Brexit question has tended to be obscured by clever, well-nourished men and women animatedly discussing statistics and mechanisms that look very different in the industrial areas of the Midlands/northern England and the fishing/farming communities of Wales and Scotland. Personal ambition, calculations of political advantage and some adroit positioning of company interests all come into play. But it is not a game we are playing. It is difficult not to be downcast and give in to the sense of hopelessness that goes with the grey of a January morning.

So, just two simple thoughts, culled from todays Mass readings, which seem to me peculiarly apposite. The first reading, Hebrews 2.14–18, makes the point that we are enslaved not so much by death as by the fear of death. Fear of what may happen, what might happen, only too often ends up paralysing us. I speak with some conviction on this point. I have known, ever since I was first diagnosed, that my cancer is incurable. My initial prognosis wasn’t very good, but I have been fortunate enough to live my life without spending time wondering when it will end. After all, as I cheerfully informed a friend, I could fall under a ‘bus (though, living where we do, a timber lorry is a more likely modus moriendi). The point is, the what-ifs must not be allowed to cripple the what-ares. We must make the best of the situation in which we find ourselves, and our politicians must be alerted to the fact that many of us are not very happy with the way in which they have conducted themselves and hold them responsible for the mess we are in. This morning the future looks bleak, but with goodwill and hard work, surely something positive can be achieved?

My second point is more explicitly ‘religious’, but you must expect that in a blog written by a nun. In the gospel we read that in the early hours before dawn, Jesus went off to a lonely place and prayed there (cf Mark 1.29-39). That, essentially, is the vocation of a Benedictine: to have in her heart a lonely place where Christ may pray unceasingly to his Father. It is prayer made in the darkest of times but always in union with the one who is a compassionate and trustworthy high priest. As such, it is powerful prayer — not because of us, but because of Him. That is the kind of prayer of which we all stand in need today: the prayer of hope and trust.

N.B. Opinions expressed in this post are the responsibility of the writer and not to be attributed to the community.

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7 thoughts on “Hope in Dark Times”

  1. I have been in Australia for six weeks and Brexit has been a constant topic of conversation. I admit that I return to the UK with apprehension gabout what is to come. I trust in God that all will be well. Thank you Dame Catherine for a wonderful post

  2. Dear Sr. Catherine. Sending many grateful hugs to you for sharing with us your personal story. Yours is a story of such strength and love. You and your sister’s are in my daily prayers. God Bless. Pam

  3. Thank you. I share the sentiments and thoughts and prayerful actions you talk about in this blog.
    The country desperately needs to refocus on prayer and what seems best for the country.we have lost so much in our secular, individualistic society in my view.
    Well said!

  4. Bless you and thank you, Sister. You are all in my prayers and you are especially so in your illness. May the Lord hold you in the palm of his hand.

  5. I suppose that one good thing may emerge from the mess in parliament, namely that honest good will and sincerity on the part of politicians will stand out in contrast to devious machinations and self-interest. We‘ll have the opportunity to see who really has the good of the country at heart and who has other aims and objectives. Not edifying but perhaps salutary.

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