In Search of Hope
If you have followed this blog to any extent over the last year, you may recognize a common theme: the need for hope in the midst of our stormy times. Thus, the title of the blog – Hope in the Storm.
Some people may also recognize that we are in a battle that pits good against evil. Perhaps, this is even a new “Dark Age” where evil has taken the place of good and good is now called evil. Our Lady of Faitima foretold of this time and to diminish the existence of this battle is to relinquish our goodness to the littleness of evil. Our greatest weapon in this battle is a prayerful life that looks to the future with unending hope for salvation while finding joy in this life and looking forward to the next.
In my own travels I encounter people who struggle to find hope in our modern post Christian Era because of a tendency to place our hope in earthly victories or material gains which, in time, pass into history and nothingness. The passing of these earthly gains can dash our hope against the rocks of life and cause despair.
For true lasting joy we should seek the hope found only in the faith given us by Jesus Christ. This lifelong journey in search of joy should cause us to pause and ask the question, “What is hope?”
Hope is one of the three great theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. All three great virtues are intertwined in there actions and reactions. They intersect through our soul and draw us closer to God by perfecting our union with Him.
The virtue of Hope goes beyond placing our future in the hands of men and looks toward eternal bliss. Hope releases us from the burden of our crosses, provides the strength to carry these crosses with diligence and opens our heart to the perfected love of Christ. Hope also gives us the fortitude to love all those we meet on our path to final judgement.
There are over 180 verses in the Bible which expound on hope. St. Paul, the greatest evangelist ever known, speaks numerous times on hope. One quote I find particularly profound is:
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. (Romans 8:24-25)
In the excepts below, The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains and defines the joyful nature of hope as looking forward and outward toward the eternal salvation promised by Christ.
1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”84 “The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.”85
1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.
1819 Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice.86 “Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations.”87
1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the “hope that does not disappoint.”88 Hope is the “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.”89 Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: “Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”90 It affords us joy even under trial: “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation.”91 Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.
1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.92 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end”93 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.”94 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.95 – St. Teresa of Avila – Doctor of the Church
Hope bursts from the inner workings of our soul, through a gift of the Holy Spirit, guiding us outward and away from our tendency to sin. Hope creates a longing for the good which is Christ. As St. Augustine states, “Hope deals only with good things, and only with those which lie in the future, and which pertain to the man who cherishes the hope.”
The destroyer of Hope is a lack of faith and despair. For many of us, who have fallen into despair and recovered, we may come to understand that our despair was a result of our own lack of faith. When we have a deep, abiding faith in the salvation promised by Christ, we cannot help but be hopeful even in the most difficult times.
What is the answer to finding hope?
- First, have faith and trust in the fact that God is good and His desire for us is to be with Him in Heaven for all eternity.
- Second, be a source of love and support to those closest to you during thier times of struggle.
- Lastly, take a stand against the smallness of evil which works to destroy hope.
Yes, I know, sometimes this is easier said than done. All things can be accomplished through Christ.
JMJ, pray for us.
God is good,