By Bruce Dougherty
As we all know, many people are suffering today, and the future seems uncertain, especially in light of the election here in the United States. To be sure, this world is inconstant. So, in what or in whom can we trust?
Regarding worldly leaders, Scripture says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help” (Ps 146:3). Psalm 60:11 says: “O grant us help against the foe, for vain is the help of man!” Psalm 108:12 tells us: “O grant us help against the foe, for vain is the help of man!” We cannot trust in political leaders and so on to save us.
But whatever happens in the world, we can always and must always hope in God. Life can be fragile and precarious, but God is ever trustworthy and solid. As King David said, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps 18:2). Psalm 42:11 and Psalm 43:5 use identical wording: “Hope in God.”
So what precisely is hope in God?
Hope is one of the three theological virtues (that is, virtues whose immediate object is God): “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Hope in God is one of the most important virtues.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a summary of the full Catechism) teaches us: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire and await from God eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit to merit it and to persevere to the end of our earthly life.” (387)
It is better to give you the official teaching of the Church than personal musings or numerous quotes by various individuals, helpful though they may be, for we live and die by the teaching of the Church. Here is what the Church teaches on hope in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
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.” “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.”
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. “Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations.”
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.” Hope is the “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” 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.” It affords us joy even under trial: “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation.” 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. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” 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.” 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.
1843 By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it.
Naturally, many saints have written this great virtue of hope. Here is but one beautiful quote by St. Charles Borromeo: “God wishes us not to rest upon anything but His infinite goodness; do not let us expect anything, hope anything, or desire anything but from Him, and let us put our trust and confidence in Him alone.”
In the Bible, St. Paul teaches us: “Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:2-5).
We do not know what the future holds, but one thing is for sure – we can and must always hope in God, and never despair (see Catechism 844, 1501, and 2091) … especially of His INFINITE Mercy (read St. Faustina’s Diary: no one is ever a lost cause unless he or she chooses that). Here is a wonderful quote from her Diary: “Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.” (Diary, 950; Optional Closing Prayer of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy). Remember: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).
Let us consider the now-immortal words of St. (Padre) Pio: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” This is a most amazing teaching from a priest who bore the painful stigmata for 50 years! If he could live in hope, certainly we can! He is now one of the greatest saints the Church has ever produced…
We have every reason to hope in God. Though He is infinitely just, He is also infinite in His mercy, love, goodness, beauty, and truth. He alone will never let us down.
Let us conclude with one of the most hopeful verses in the Bible, from God to the prophet Jeremiah who suffered so greatly: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).
If your hope is in God, you will NEVER be disappointed.
Mr. Dougherty has a master’s degree in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a B.A. in English Literature. He has held several jobs in and for the Church over the years, especially writing and editing. He can be reached at [email protected]
Pray always for purity and love
Please report any inappropriate ads or paid content