Hell on earth

A few days ago on my daily bus ride to work, I overheard a disturbing conversation. I wasn’t eavesdropping. In fact, I was reading some rather edifying correspondence involving the National Catholic Community Foundation.

Seated behind me were a middle-aged man and woman who seemed to have no connection other than shared bus ridership and profound cynicism. In voices too audible for transit protocol, these two prophets of doom proclaimed their jeremiads about everything from the meaninglessness of their jobs, their kids’ lack of direction and the overall collapse of society. It was a depressing commute.

At the end the ride, this joyless duo ‘comforted’ each other by declaring their mutual resignation to the conviction that life is ‘hell on earth.’

As Dante put it: hell is where all hope is abandoned. It may be that we do dwell in hac lacrimarum valle and that our world is in fact a vale of tears. But, with the grace of God, hell is avoidable. Those who are fortunate to be open to Christianity and its deep rootedness in Judaism have cause to believe in this life changing reality. (From somewhere my mother is whispering “Not ‘fortunate,’ Dana, ‘blessed!’ ”).

The redemptive sacrifice we commemorate this week of the incarnate Son of God has not only opened for us the gates of eternal paradise but has made its kingdom present within us. We have only to open our eyes. Those who do discover the generative power of Truth, Beauty and Goodness and in doing so succumb to the vivifying embrace of invincible hope.

This is the evangelium, the good news. Let’s spread it around and advance the Kingdom. I’ll start with my lugubrious bus mates.

On behalf of the trustees of the National Catholic Community Foundation, may I wish you a joyous Eastertide and invite you to celebrate with us. Since last Easter, the membership of our community (your community) has grown more than twenty percent!