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On the Areopagus - 3 Reflections on Hope

Thursday, February 05, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI, in a greeting to young people in 2008, challenged them as Christ’s disciples to “show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free.”

One of the pastoral roles undertaken by Dominican students in Oxford is to guide a youth group in the Oxford Priory known as 'Catholics Anonymous'. In Advent 2008 the young people of this group took up the Holy Father's challenge and they shared their reflections on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary during the course of a service of prayer in Blackfriars priory church. The service consisted of readings from the scriptures for each mystery, followed by a reflection, and the praying of the mystery itself accompanied by appropriate musical accompaniment that was conducive to prayer and meditation.

The youth group shared their reflections on the mysteries of our faith which were a fruit of their contemplation. These reflections were insightful and thought-provoking, often concentrating on the theme of the hope which our faith in the new-born Christ gives us. One reflection spoke of “the very fragility of this hope, of this state of life, the fact that hope, and patience is often all we have”. Going on to wonder about how the great saints appear so secure in their faith and knowledge despite their human limitations, the reflection went on to say: “But these ultra-pious Saints lived in Advent too, they didn’t know either. Perhaps theirs was an example of astonishing hope, or astonishing trust, but it was not a sign of divinity… Hope then, is the only true compass and our need to live in hope, rather than doubt, seems to lie at the centre of both the Christian life and, when I look again, the Joyful Mysteries”.

Looking at the Visitation, another reflection spoke about the audacity of Mary’s hope: “Doing and proclaiming true good in a society which may frown upon it would make politicians and princes shrink, but filled with the Holy Spirit, Mary proclaims it with fervour, conviction and joy, sure in the hope that all generations will call her blessed”.

We thank our young people for their generosity in giving their time and efforts into organising such a wonderful and prayerful service, which was an inspiration to the friars and laity who attended and which helped us to look afresh at the mystery of the Incarnation.

fr David Barrins OP who has guided the youth group since it began in 2007

St Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians - the community he seemed to love more than any of the others - encouraging them as follows: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).


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