Atheism, moral relativism, and a senseless rationalism have steadily swelled in our culture. Now they touch every facet of society. Their teachings–that there is no God and no Truth–are, at their essence, teaching that there is no hope. They are a denial of every one of our Creator’s words to us, including those of promise.
As a result, “giving up” has become an epidemic. When intentional death (through abortion, euthanasia, or doctor-assisted suicide) is commonly thought more merciful than illness, disability, or poverty, it’s a pretty sure sign that we’ve lost our hope. And it had to happen; we’ve spent the past hundred years denying that the One who is the source of hope even exists.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (known before her vows as Edith Stein) knew this denial well. In fact, before her conversion, this young Jewish girl had become an atheist, subscribing to many of the beliefs that have weakened hope today. But seeing the devotion of a pious woman who had stopped to pray in a Catholic church when it wasn’t time for Mass struck something in her heart. This began Edith’s journey to the Church, and in Catholic teachings she found Truth—and the hope it generated. This was not some weak, resigned hope, either; it was so strong that it enabled her to use her gift for philosophy to speak the truths of the Faith to the world even as the Nazis gained power. Later, when she was loaded into a cattle car and eventually shipped to Auschwitz because of her Jewish ancestry and Catholic faith, she let this hope continue to grow. Even death in a Nazi gas chamber couldn’t quell her trust in God’s goodness and love for her.
This is the difference between the fruit of Catholicism and that of atheism. Atheism in society leads people to give up in the face of obstacles such as poverty, disability, and sickness—to choose death over daily struggles. Catholicism does the opposite: it fosters a hope so deep that it cannot be squelched, even by death itself.
As of this writing, it’s the morning of election Tuesday, and the outcome of today’s election is anybody’s guess. But we can still trust, because our confidence isn’t in what goes on around us. It’s rooted in the knowledge that the God who loves us will use all things—whether joy or hardship—for the ultimate good of His children. In Him, we have hope.