13 July 2022, The Tablet

Timothy Radcliffe OP on finding hope and forgiveness in a time of hardship

What does a hope-filled life look like? Part of it is hanging in there, even when it seems pointless.

Timothy Radcliffe OP on finding hope and forgiveness in a time of hardship

Timothy Radcliffe, third from left, with other delegates on a trip to Syria that took them close to the front line of the civil war


In this doom-laden time of war, hardship, loss and grief, there are two things at the heart of Christianity that are needed more than ever: hope and forgiveness

John Henry Newman said: “Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.” Or as someone very different, the novelist Jeanette Winterson, said: “As I try and understand how life works – and why some people cope better than others with adversity – I come back to something to do with saying yes to life, which is love of life, however inadequate, and love for the self, however found. Not in the me-first way that is the opposite of life and love, but with a salmon-like determination to swim upstream, however choppy upstream is, because this is your stream.”

We are called to be fully alive. And to be alive fully, humanly, is to be able to let go of the burden of the past, and open ourselves to the hope of the future. To live now, we need forgiveness and hope.

Let us begin with hope. Doom is in the air. This is a tough time to be young. The future seems to be disappearing. Democracies all over the world are crumbling. Ecological catastrophe is looming. There is even, for the first time since I was a child, the threat of nuclear war. No wonder lots of people are deciding not to have children. So how can we hope?


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