Enabling Hope and the Feast of Our Lady of Hope

Hope is oxygen to us. We all live by Hope. Hope is a crucial resource of life. It gives meaning to our life and energizes us to face adversity and problems. The foreclosure of Hope is enabling and lets us usher in emancipative tomorrow by working towards today. Greek mythology tells us the Hope is the only antidote to the evil that is kept safe in Pandora’s Box. Hope opens a powerful horizon to our life. Immanuel Kant, a German thinker raised the intriguing question: ‘What can I hope? As the question, ‘what can I know?’ raises the question of epistemology or science of knowledge and the question, ‘what can I do?’ similarly raises the question of ethics or science of human conduct. ‘What can I hope?’ raises the question of elipsology, the science of hope. Although Kant raised this question, he did not pursue it seriously. Hope opens us to novel positive possibilities. It is not just a belief in utopia ( golden tomorrow) but there is a political and spiritual dimension to Hope. It influences our actions and our entire life.

Hope educates us and motivates us to work to build a just and harmonious world. Elipsology or the philosophy/ science of Hope is underdeveloped and awaiting its fullest growth. Every human has an unarticulated vision of Hope. Hope is best lived in practice. We live a Hope-filled life through actions. Hope is active and not passive. We can notice that Hope animates the ordinary life of people. It enables them to succeed against the tremendous odds of life. Hope is not merely a coping tool for people, it is also an agent that catalyses social change. We can clearly discern the presence of Hope in the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Hope in Chinchinim.

Mother Mary is the model of Hope. We are pilgrim people and Mother Mary is the Star of Hope on our journey. Mother Mary who was nobody by all earthly standards is a great figure of Hope for the entire humanity. Her self-emptying yes to God came from Hope that transformed her life and the entire world. She is indeed a nobody, who is made somebody by divine election in her Son Jesus Christ. This is perhaps the reason why Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI portrayed Mother Mary as the symbol of Hope in Spe Salvi. Pope Francis has added Mary, the mother of Hope to the Litany of Loretto in 2020. Pope Francis relates Mary‘s Hope to the passion of Jesus, the mystery of the cross and the victory of resurrection. We can discern Mary’s Hope is reflected in the daily struggles of ordinary people. We can especially see them in the struggles for justice of the de-peopled people who are fighting the indignity of reduction to the status of a nobody. These people are reflected in the triumph of Hope of Mother Mary who is God’s servant exalted by divine grace. Her Hope mirrors God’s revolution for the lowly. Her Magnificat celebrates God’s revolution and depicts her steadfast Hope.

The people of Chinchinim celebrate the God of Hope when they celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Hope. Mary herself is a sign of this hope and therefore the celebration of the feast becomes a Hope-filled experience. The ‘yes’ of Mary reversed the ‘no’ of Eve and opened our ways of saying ‘yes to God’ and live a close union with the God of Hope. Mother Mary unites us in our ‘yes to God’. In her, we have a glimpse of what it is to be fully Imagio Dei. The feast of mother Mary stirs the hearts of the people of Chinchinim and they are enabled to listen to God’s voice in the hustle and bustle of life and discern God’s will in their life. Being plagued by the global pandemic, the feast becomes another milestone to continue to Hope in our God amidst uncertainty, death and tragic loss of the lives of our dear ones. Mary’s obedience to the will of God becomes a shining example to the people in Chinchinim and everywhere to continue to care and protect each other through the strict observance of the Covid-19 SOPs. This means a Hope that is rooted in mother Mary animates the people to follow life-giving restrictions that have paradoxically dampened their celebration of the feast in their village. Hope, therefore, enables us to anticipate the future promised to us by God and live its proleptic nature in an already and not-yet mode. A little Hope enables us to accept God that has surprises in store for us.

Like all other feasts, the feast our Lady of Hope has cultural dimensions. The global pandemic has not just disabled our religious participation, it has also debilitated our cultural blossomings. The great fair in the village of Chinchinim that last for ten days is almost banned. The brass band and firecrackers have gone silent. The flower processions have become less visible. The tiatr that marked the celebration is out of the window. Although we have all these and other limitations, the celebration of Hope through the feast enables us to wait for the return of all of it in good times that will be free from the global pandemic. Thus, a Hope-filled celebration anticipates a covid-19 free tomorrow and is able to celebrate the feast with the same joy although several social rituals that naturally flowed from the feast are curbed due to the global pandemic. Therefore, if anyone wants an answer to the question: ‘what can I hope ?’ can look at our Lady of Hope as well as try and discern how the same is humbly and silently lived by the people of Chinchinim alongside the people of other faiths in their village. We can indeed Hope in our God and live a positively caring life that truly celebrates our life as free children of God. We all need Hope. It synergizes our life and envisions a brighter tomorrow.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao