Easter's enduring message of hope

By Father Simon Gore, director of Animate Youth Ministries

As many of you know, the creation of the Pic happens weeks before it is published so I am writing this towards the end of the first week of some social restrictions being lifted. It is a more uplifting time to be writing an article for the Pic than it has been for a long time (I hope I have not now cursed the roadmap out of restrictions and by the time you read this we’re back to square one!).

But as I do type this, the sun is shining, shops are open, beer gardens are full of well wrapped-up patrons. The world does seem to be opening up. I, for one, find it a most uplifting time. And if society around me reopening gradually were not enough, I am also greatly looking forward to our work and ministry here restarting. We do not have long to wait. We are due to start work with St Edmund Arrowsmith, Prescot, on a week of retreats. To say I am excited is to put it mildly!

Although we have had odd bits of work over the last 12 months, there has always been a lingering fear that we would have to stop what we were doing at any time, and this indeed proved to be the case. Yet now, there does seem to be more hope for the future and that we will be able to manage some form of return to old routines.

I have spent much of the last week walking around the house with a grin on my face as I look forward to actually working with young people again and being able to plan for the future more than we have been able to do for over a year. It seems especially appropriate, then, to have ‘Easter Hope’ as our theme for this week of retreat days.

As we sat and planned the retreat, it gave us, as a team, the chance to think about what ‘hope’ means for us. And what the difference may be in what the world may be feeling as a type of hope with shops and pubs reopening; and what we might feel as Christians through the hope of the Resurrection. Yes, there will be some overlap and similarities. But as the whole of life and history comes to fulfilment in Christ then the hope that I might be feeling at the moment is as nothing compared to the hope that I should have in this Easter season.

It gave us as a team significant pause for thought. It allowed us to reflect on how and where we find hope in our everyday lives. And in the same way, how hope can be taken from us and we find ourselves in darkness and anxiety. Worryingly, we noticed that is far easier to have hopes dashed and to fall into despondence than it is to be filled with hope.

As I type this, though, we are in the middle of the Easter season. It is the season of hope, when even the darkness of death cannot be overcome by the hope of the light and life that Christ offers. That has to be the challenge for us as we begin to work with young people again, and perhaps it is the same challenge for each one of us.

It is the challenge to remember that even in the darkest moments the hope that Christ offers through the Resurrection will always be there. Can we transmit that belief of a sure and certain hope? Is it something that we have ourselves?

There is some hope in the air at the moment yet, inevitably, the world will begin to sap at that hope we might have now. The hope of the Resurrection will always be there, however, remaining after we have forgotten the joy of meeting friends in those beer gardens or having a haircut or going shopping for non-essential items.

The gap between writing and reading means that you may well be reading this when the Easter season has come to an end. Is the hope of the Easter season still alive within us? Let’s hope so!