This year marks the 77th anniversary of the founding of The Christophers. It was back in 1945 that Father James Keller, M.M., set about to bring a message of hope to a nation recovering from the ordeal of World War II. Hope had led that great generation to risk their lives in defense of freedom and human dignity. They had hope that good could prevail and that sacrifice for the greater good was a worthwhile and honorable endeavor. And it was hope that led that generation on the road to recovery from the war as they resumed the work of building up their families and communities.
The first generation that responded to The Christophers’ message of hope knew there was much work to be done to improve our society and to improve the world, but they also knew that challenges were no reason for despair, so they armed themselves with hope and set about to do the hard work to bring about positive change. That is what we are called to today, to pick up the mantle of hope and continue the good work of those who have gone before us.
The Christopher News Note Finding Christ in Community shows that the path to hope for many lies in the relationships they cultivate with others. Relationships are often where the seeds of hope are planted within our hearts because it is only in relationship to others that we realize a higher purpose beyond our own personal wants and needs.
Our News Note on finding Christ in community details the story of a young woman who realized her own calling to the generosity of spirit after people reached out to her when she was in need. And in another story, a 95-year-old blind, widowed, and lonely Londoner offered affordable housing to a low-income student and, in doing so, discovered an opportunity to cultivate a relationship that revived her spirit. “You cannot believe the difference that it makes just hearing somebody in the house,” she said. “And, to me, now to hear the key in the lock ‘round about 6 o’clock at night is wonderful.”
In his effort to inspire people with Christ’s message of hope, Father Keller joined with some of the most talented Hollywood stars of his time to produce movies that gave expression to the inherent dignity of each individual in society. His film A Link in the Chain starred James Cagney as an aging college professor wondering whether his efforts had made a difference in his students’ lives. His reminiscences about those students provide him with the resounding answer that all good finds its source in God and is then passed on through humanity by those willing to act with love towards one another.
“I, too, was but a link in the chain,” Cagney’s professor says, “a chain that was first forged with the Word, the Word of God. From Him came all the great words, words that were given to us to be repeated endlessly until their inner meaning is understood and accepted.”
We are all called to take up the mantle of hope and become a link in the chain of God’s love for humanity. Each of us does this in our own unique way, utilizing the gifts we’ve been given to bring the light of Christ to those in need. When we do this, we are being Christophers, Christ-bearers, and we’re carrying on a tradition that traces itself back to Christ.
For a free copy of The Christophers’ FINDING CHRIST IN COMMUNITY, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org