Light of Hope
by Fr Slavko Barbaric OFM
Foundations of Hope was the theme of the retreats I was supposed to present in Italy and Austria over two consecutive weekends coming up in November.
I was upset about just that topic, and angry at myself. Already, since the beginning of November, I was experiencing a tremendous lack of hope. I was suffering at the thought of having to speak about a topic to the people, when I did not know what to do with the theme.
I had every reason to give up hope. The political situation is getting worse. The great world shows its great injustice. The little ones and the innocent ones are suffering and nobody is really in a position to help them. The criminal and those taking advantage of the war are multiplying. The good which is still being done does not help to lessen the distress. Even if we have helped many today, there are still those who have not received any help, and that kills the joy of helping and doing good.
One sentence of a song kept ringing in my ears:God protect the doves and the poor, the rich will also get along in the war!– and I saw the birds and the poor without protection and the rich getting richer.
There was constant grieving in my soul. Many friends are refugees, many acquaintances live in deep mourning, and a great number of young people died. Now I was supposed to speak about love and live it! It seemed impossible. I experienced the fact that it is easier to live without love, peace, faith, rather than without hope! But still, the days did not get brighter or the nights shorter.
One very early Sunday morning, just before my departure, still in darkness, I woke up and went to Krizevac without much thinking. From station to station I tried to surrender my inner self to Jesus through Mary. I could only distinguish the stations from the rocks or the bushes because of their dark shadow. Nothing happened. Before my eyes and in my soul, there were constantly the same pictures calling to hopelessness, sadness, anger and helplessness. On the very top of the hill before the big cross, I remembered one message:Pray before the cross; many graces come from the cross. That word also fell into the deep darkness within me.
I met nobody that morning. It had been raining the whole evening before until deep into the night. After genuflecting before the cross, I looked down into the valley. In the very early dawn the houses began to be slowly noticeable. The air was totally fresh around me. In my soul, the dark night continued and the perfume of hoplessness also...
I went past the station of the Resurrection which stands at the entrance of the area where the big cross is. Across a little wall was the station of Jesus being buried. Just a little wall stands between those stations, and such a big difference. The station of the Resurrection meant nothing to me.
On my way back, just before leaving the area where the cross stands, I saw a little flame of a candle, in the little corner of the little wall... interesting, I said to myself. It had rained through the whole night, I had met nobody, and there was the flame. It was burning behind the wall, but did not spread much light around itself between the stations of the Tomb and the Resurrection. I was similar to those looking for Jesus, convinced He was not there, and had been stolen... One little thought came to me next to the flame: it survived the night and the rain. One more thought: It can and must continue... and it is true: it continues!