05/02/2018

Easter Season is the Season of Hope

By Father Ted Dziak, S.J.

Sometimes we forget that Easter is not just one day.  Easter is the great feast of fifty days.   

Lent prepares us for Easter, and Holy Week ends the Lenten season with a Tridium of celebration of Easter fire, joy and hope.   But the Paschal Season (Eastertide) continues for 50 days beyond Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecost.  Even the Easter candle remains in prominence in the sanctuary until Pentecost.

Easter is the season of joy.  It was believed in the early Church that the joy of Easter could not be contained in a single day, hence the season was extended.  While 50 days of unmitigated joy seems hard for us to sustain today, the Paschal season still has meaning.   

Easter is the season of hope.   In fact, the Paschal mystery is the center of the Christian year and the foundation of our faith.  To infuse the hope of Easter into our daily lives, it means making a conscious effort to remain hopeful and positive each day of our lives. 

We are called to become men and women of hope

So says Pope Francis.  He wrote an inspiring book on this theme (On Hope by Pope Francis,  Loyola Press [2017]) and he has a simple message that he tries to convey to us – that if we open our hearts to God, God’s love can grace us with a lasting and sustaining hope, no matter how dark or confusing our situation.  

“Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk, but if we trust in God, it can become beautiful and wide as a highway. Never lose hope; continue to believe, always, in spite of everything. Hope opens new horizons, making us capable of dreaming what is not even imaginable.”    + Pope Francis, On Hope

Hope is simple yet profound.  The way to hope is to banish the negativity, the stress, the darkness and find the good and the positive in everything and everyone.  

One simple step to find the good in each other comes directly from Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises.   Ignatius writes, “it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false. [S.E. Presupposition 22]   

In other words, always give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Do everything we can to understand the other person’s perspective.   A simple suggestion, but it can have a profound effect.

Hope allows us to dream

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” + Langston Hughes

I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer in dreams.  I even gain spiritual insight from my dreams.   Night dreams and day dreams – even those early morning hour dreams when you’re barely half-awake.   I get some of my best inspiration at this time.  The ancients believed dreams were messages from the gods.   Freud and Jung believed dreams were messages from the unconscious.   I think God speaks to us through our dreams.  My dreams are filled with my loved ones – parents, family, and even friends now in the arms of God.  

Dreams are goals not yet reached.  We tell young people to dream, yet we can never be too young, too old, or too busy to dream, for dreams are not distractions.   Dreams free the intellect and stir the passion of the heart.  Dreams allow the spirit to inspire imagination.   

Having worked with young people my entire life, I am blessed to be around dreamers.  In fact, when I call my students ‘dreamers,’ it’s a term of endearment.  Sometimes we think of this term to describe the aimless, spacey, head-in-the clouds type.  I don’t.  I use this term to identify those youth who dream, who laugh, who vision, who are filled with radical ideas, impossible goals and tons of idealism.   We need dreamers in this world.

A dreamer is a person of faith

To be a person of faith, you have to be a dreamer.  In order to meet and experience the Jesus of faith -- you have to allow faith to be mystery and paradox, understand faith to be at times irrational and even at times contradictory.   Dreams allow the head to take a back seat to the depth of the heart and the inspiration of the spirit.  Faith is not words – all neat and clear and written down as a beautifully worded creed.   Faith is a heart full of love and hope.  

Martin Luther King dreamed of a world where skin color makes no difference.  Those who truly experience the Easter message are the dreamers who seek to create a better world, who fight injustice and inequality.  A person of faith dreams of a world surrounded by the unconditional love of love.  

Let us experience this Paschal season by focusing on the positive, the good.  Let us let us allow the joy of this Easter season to permeate every corner of our life.  This is our dream.  This is our hope.  This is our faith.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”  + Pope John XXIII 


Father Ted Dziak, S.J, is the Vice-President for Mission and Ministry and University Chaplain. 

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