Hope & Conversion Belong Together, by Derek Rotty

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By Derek Rotty, Catholic Exchange, July 31, 2019

Derek Rotty

Burt Bacharach sings a wonderful little song telling us that “love, sweet love” is what the world needs now.  While the world certainly does need more love, more charity, at every moment, we must also realize that the modern world is in need of authentic hope more than anything else.  By and large, western culture (and individuals within it) has lost hope and has succumbed to cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism, which are antithetical to this theological virtue.

Josef Pieper, in his great book, On Hope, not only defines this essential theological virtue, but also gives us quite a bit about its characteristics and contours.  Pieper writes that “hope is a steadfast turning toward the true fulfillment of man’s nature.”  The true fulfillment of our nature is found by becoming truly alive in God’s grace.  Remember St. Ignatius of Antioch’s famous adage: “The glory of God is man fully alive….”  We become fully alive by connecting more fully to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, through the scriptures and especially through the sacraments of the Church.  In those realities, we have hope that we will become truly alive.

Yet that true fulfillment doesn’t just happen; it doesn’t arrive in our lives completely mature at one moment.  We must act in some way.  Pieper tells us that we must turn toward that true fulfillment of hope.  In the biblical and moral understanding, turning is conversion.  This is precisely why the Church defines conversion as she does: “A radical reorientation of the whole life away from sin and evil, and toward God” (Catechism Glossary).  So, to find our true fulfillment and fulfill our hope, we must be converted, we must turn more fully toward Jesus Christ. ….