Courageous Hope

As a Religious Brother What Comes To Mind?

Gregory Timothy Smyth, CFC


There are a number of ways to look at Hope. Our Catholic theologians say that Hope is a divine gift that eventually leads us to union with our Creator. From my experience I would say that Hope is more like multiple layers of wrapping paper around a gift. If we live our lives intentionally, we discover aspects about the wondrous gift inside as we unwrap each layer, but we never quite finish unwrapping and get to the gift.

As a Brother I experience Hope in two aspects (at least) of my life. The first aspect is personal. Jesus said “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) What is this abundant life? It is the object of my Hope and the greatest abundance - eventual union with my Creator. I also find Hope in the interactions of my life: the sense of abundance in my ministry, my prayer, my community. This abundance is experienced in the here and now, it isn’t as incomprehensible as the abundance to come, but it is just as real. It is what keeps drawing me forward in Hope, the taste of what is to come, it is the promised hundredfold.

The second aspect of my experience of Hope is ministerial. I hope that my ministry is meaningful, not just for me, but for those to whom I minister. I hope that my ministry encourages others to seek meaningful hopefilled lives. I hope that my ministry produces fruit in them, not just in me.

Courageous Hope is risky, and to “brother” is to be in relationship, and relationships are always risky. I think most people know what it means to be “brother” to another, it is a willingness to BE with the other. Throughout my years of ministry I have learned how significant it is to simply BE with someone.

Courageous Hope is risky, and to “brother” is to be in relationship, and relationships are always risky.


Most of us know that at a wake you don’t have to worry about what you say to the bereaved, it is significant enough just to BE there. When visiting someone in a hospital, you don’t have to worry about what to do or say - you just have to BE. You pull up a chair and sit down; what happens next depends on the patient. You don’t have to DO anything, you just have to BE. However, it takes courage to BE - without an agenda, without a script, without a plan - allowing your ministry to unfold as it will, in response to BEing with the other.

The riskiest of all relationships is the one we have with Jesus. Actually it’s more of a response to the one he wants to have with us. Consider how Mark describes Jesus selecting his twelve Apostles: Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3: 13-15)

As a Brother, I really relate to this passage - that Jesus wanted companions - brothers, just to BE with him and that gives me Hope.

Gregory Timothy Smyth, CFC, RFC Board Member and Director of Young Adult Ministry for his community.

Other News from ERCBNA