One of my dearest friends knows that I try to grow in self-understanding by continuing to see my faults, weaknesses, and sins…and “walk away” from them toward the path of virtue and holiness. That’s why she sent me a gift called “Self-Authoring,” a guided reflection on my past as well as preparing for the future.
Given that the New Year is a good time to take yet another hard look at my failed past, I began the self-authoring reflection. It requires me to pick my main faults. I could have picked 15, but 10 was the limit! But, as I think back to particular occasions and recognize where my faults caused a negative impact on my life, I can’t help but feel as if I am falling into a black hole! “Oh, that the Lord would take the thorn from my side,” said St. Paul (See 2 Cor. 12:7-8).
Yet, this process does not end there. Instead, I proceed to consider how virtue can replace those defects. There’s much hope…in this area of psychology, as well as in knowing God’s grace is bigger than any of my weaknesses or sins.
Then, what popped into my mind was St. John Paul’s phrase, “hope of everyday.” This expression is found at the very end of Part One of the Theology of the Body, where he is summarizing what has been covered thus far: The Beginning, the Fall and Redemption, and the Resurrection.
With that term—hope of everyday—our beloved saint reminds all of us that Christ’s victory was not a grandiose event stagnant in the past alone nor only for the future; it affects us here and now. Mind the long quote:
The “redemption of the body,” however, expresses itself not only in the resurrection as a victory over death. It is present also in the words of Christ addressed to “historical” man [us].… Here it is not a question of the eschatological hope of the resurrection, but of the hope of victory over sin, which can be called the hope of every day… [w]hen it penetrates into daily life … to discover the whole good in which [man] achieves a victory over sin and over concupiscence. (TOB 86:6) (bold mine).
Perhaps like me, you are often discouraged that you “did it again,” experiencing whatever that “thorn in the side” may be. Yet, take heart. Through the heart’s inner workings toward the good with God’s grace, we can sin less and less and love more and more. We need not be stuck in our past; we need not simply sit and wait for the end times. No, the hope of every day is what I call the Boomerang Effect.
When tempted to sin, we can imaginatively “throw” the boomerang of hope that goes back to the Cross and Resurrection, bringing us the redemption of the Crucified and Risen Body to our present moment. Our Lord says, “My grace is sufficient,” to St. Paul…and you and me (2 Cor. 12:9). Let’s grab the grace and choose the bodily action that reveals and brings an increase of love. That’s the hope of everyday.
Yes, I’ll continue the self-authoring of my life, knowing that I rely on the Main Author of Life Who will be at my side, with mercy, and with healing. That’s the great hope for 2022 — of each and every one of its 365 days!
Monica Ashour, MTS; M Hum writes for TOBET as Cofounder and President.