Remembrance Day and Advent: The Dawn of Hope
an editorial by Catherine Fournier
I'm not sure why, and I didn't expect it to be like this, but the older I get the less sanguine about the state of the world I am. Despite forty years of experience I'm finding the world a less predictable and secure place than before.
The economy of the world hangs on to its sanity by a thread, when will it snap? My elderly car barely started this morning, when will it finally go to the great junk heap in the sky? Every month a catastrophic storm literally stomps some part of our planet, is this better news coverage or the beginning of a climatic upheaval? My eleven year old son was held down and beaten in the schoolyard yesterday, is this an isolated incident or are our nation's youth becoming nothing more than self-centred thugs? A family is petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn a 'do not resusitate' order imposed over their objections by the hospital supposedly 'caring' for their elderly father, and the elderly in Holland, where euthanasia is legal, hide from the medical system. Have we reached the middle of the slippery slope Pope Paul VI warned us about in Humane Vitae? Will I, too, have to hide from authorities when I am my mother's age? The whole world seems to teeter on the brink of disaster and evil.
Today is Remembrance Day. Today, with the help of radio commentators, ceremonies at cenotaphs and bagpipes, we remember our war-dead, the stories of bravery and horror, the loved ones lost and the few that were found. We remember the soldiers, and the Holocaust survivors, and the civilians who watched their lands and homes ripped asunder, and I find myself remembering Hope.
Surely it was a time when hope seemed far away, as far as the stars, or the welcome warmth of their kitchen at home. Surely it was a time that having any hope for a better day, on the face of it, seemed idealistic, foolish and perhaps even deadly. Surely it was a time that hopes were dashed more often than they were met. Yet the world continued to hope. As they marched to battle, or into the death camps, or to the factories to work, they knew in their hearts that God would hear their prayers, and send a better day.
As an officer with the Cadets Corps, I march in those Remembrance Day parades. I stand unmoving at attention or at ease for an hour or more while the wind blows sleet in my face, or my hairspray melts in the rain and stings my eyes. Before, and after, I grumble to all who will listen "Why couldn't they have signed the Armistice in May?" But I also remember those who continued to hope in the face of death and disaster, when the whole world seemed to teeter on the brink of disaster and evil.
Two thousand years ago, after the long Advent between the Fall of Adam and Eve and the Nativity, God heard the prayers of his people and sent us our 'better day,' His Son. Born of a virgin, living as a man, and dying for our sins, our Redeemer and Savior came to bring the Kingdom of God, peace, and hope. All through that longest Advent God's people clung to hope and to His promises. Despite slavery, war, famine and death, lost in the midst of disaster and evil, they remained faithful to His word and to hope. Their hope and prayers earned eternal life for everyone.
And it suddenly seems to me that it's a good thing Remembrance Day is in November, scant weeks before the beginning of Advent. And it's a good thing that the world is becoming such an uncertain place. It reminds me that while the world is inconstant and transient, my soul is as eternal as the God who made me. I can not depend on the weather, or my car, or the safety of my children, or even continuing democracy, but I can, and must, depend on hope in God. When all else is gone, He will not leave me and neither will the hope of the eternal life and peace everlasting.
So throughout Advent this year, in the midst of preparations (and panic that I won't get everything done) I'll be remembering hope, what this season is all about. Continuing to hope, preparing for the joyful fulfillment of hope, and celebrating hope.
In this issue, we'll be sharing other people's stories of hope, fulfillment and happiness. We'll present articles about the traditions and teachings of Advent and Christmas, offer some family crafts and activities to celebrate the Advent and Christmas seasons in your home, and profile some saints who knew the peace and hope in God that we all aspire to. We will also give you some gift ideas that we hope (!) will make your shopping easier and your season more fruitful. Happy Advent!