Hope and a Call for Change

"Hope is not something we possess; rather, hope is what we do, when we act out of the conviction that it is worthwhile to seek and nurture life." - Austen Ivereigh in "First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis" (book cover pictured next to quote)

As a spiritual director, I have the great privilege to accompany individuals on their spiritual journeys. Some of the people that I accompany serve in the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC). With a rich array of professional and life experiences, they are at a point in life when they could retire. Yet they continue to offer their time generously in organizations that perform the works of mercy.

As I listen to these individuals, I am continually in awe of the ways in which they strive to discern and answer Christ’s call to serve in their lives every day, both in their homes and in their communities. What strikes me most is not just how full their lives are, but their indomitable spirits. These are people of hope with a capital “H”—not a Pollyanna-ish or giddy hope, but a grounded hope, rooted in faith.

When I was praying with Austen Ivereigh’s book, First Belong to God: On Retreat with Pope Francis, these IVC members were the first people who came to mind. Reflecting upon Pope Francis’s words, Ivereigh writes, “Hope is not something we possess; rather, hope is what we do, when we act out of the conviction that it is worthwhile to seek and nurture life.” Hope is that which empowers the individuals in the Ignatian Volunteer Corps each day as they work to realize the Kingdom here on earth.

It’s a hope that beckons to us all and invites us to come out of our silos and follow it to the margins of society. Accompanied by grace, it illuminates hearts and discomforts; one is no longer able to be content when there is injustice and suffering. This hope empowers its followers—not just to respect the dignity of each individual one meets, but to help to restore and maintain the human dignity of those who have been robbed of it.

It’s a bit risky, because once we accept hope’s invitation, there is no going back. This hope is transformational. It permeates the being, molding those who answer the call into men and women for others. This Spirit-powered hope is the catalyst for change that we need in the world today. And it’s an invitation as old as time; as Psalm 40 invites us to reply, “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.”

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Rebecca Ruiz
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has been trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through Fairfield University’s four-year formation program. Rebecca served in refugee resettlement for nearly 15 years and has also worked as an ethnomusicologist, composer, and writer. She and her husband have two sons and live at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. Rebecca – what a great way to look at the work of Ignatian Volunteer Corps – I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing this word on our reasons to hope for meaningful ways to make a difference and give back at all stages of life. Retirees out there – IVC has 18 regions across the US, plus a virtual region for folks who do not live near one – check out the website for more details and to inquire. (Disclaimer – I am the IVC Region Director for New Orleans)

    • Hi June,
      Thanks for your comment! Yes, hope sprouts from roots of faith. May we all have the grace of this hope!

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