A Time to Hope, by Paul F. Castley MSC

It’s a difficult time to be a part of our church community.

So many of us are feeling disheartened and hurt by the horrific cases of child sexual abuse that have so deeply affected our friends and families. Keeping faith can be challenging, but through his book A Time to Hope, Paul F. Castley suggests this is the time we need our faith the most.

A Time for Hope was birthed as a series of retreats for priests, but evolved into a book for all Christians. Much like retreats, it is intended to be experienced slowly and in partnership with reflection.

Castley draws contrast between optimism and hope. Hope, he says, involves an individual’s honest recognition of the negative to arrive at a place where they can encounter God. For us, this means acknowledging and reflecting on our Church’s dark history in order to move forward both individually and as part of a faith community.

But A Time for Hope is not about rousing despondency. Castley acknowledges the anguish and loss that surrounds us as people of the church, but reframes our experience through the lens of hope, which only Christ can provide. As he puts it, “it doesn’t matter how often we stray, Christ will come after us”.

As we make our way from cover to cover, we are invited to look beyond our concerns about the Church; to notice our feelings, distractions, experiences, memories and hopes through meaningful prayer. It is suggested that by surrendering our need for control and success, we can “make space for God’s plans to be poured into our hearts and to illuminate our minds and energise our wills”.

Is it enough, though, to surrender everything to God in such trying times? The will and inspiration of God, Castley says, can only enter our hearts after deep prayer and lamentation. It is what we choose to do with that will and inspiration that comes from our own spirit.

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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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