Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reflections on Hope

As we are in the Advent week of hope, I thought now would be a good time to share some recent reflections I gave at Little Flowers Club. We used to always do acronyms of the virtues in our "younger years" in the Club, so I decided to revisit the approach in my reflections...

Honesty and Humility – with ourselves and God. We must always be honest about our own sinfulness and need of Christ’s mercy, but at the same time must hope in His ongoing work within us – even on days when we can’t see or feel it happening.
“Two criminals were crucified with Christ. One was saved; do not despair. One
was not; do not presume.” ( St. Augustine)
And the same with our world: it is easy for us, I think, to become so focused on and concerned about the great evil and darkness all around us that we forget to remain hopeful about humanity. "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness..." In the midst of all this confusion, there is evidence of a Springtime of Faith, a "New Pentecost".

“The last word of God on the human condition is not death, but life; not despair, but hope. To this hope the Church invites the men and women of today as well. She repeats to them the incredible but true proclamation: Christ is risen! Let the whole world rise with Him. Alleluia!” (Pope John Paul II)

Optimism is another word that reminds us how to practically apply this virtue. Can we recognize, or at least look for, the hand of God in every situation? Do we believe He can bring greater good from evil? Our God is One Who can bring beauty from brokenness, life from ashes, healing from frailty, strength from weakness. What a consolation. (I've reflected on this often: here, and here, and here.)

"It is our part to seek, His to grant what we ask; ours to make a beginning, His to bring it to completion; ours to offer what we can, His to finish what we cannot." (St. Jerome)

Promise. We are the children of a Father Who keeps his promises. Always. The movie Love’s Enduring Promise comes to mind… I love that title, and how Missy’s father reminds his daughter: “Remember love’s enduring promise! He is faithful”.
“…those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

Our youth is a unique time of learning to hope, to trust. Especially as many of us near adulthood, the paths of discernment can be at times frightening, or at least confusing. The human desire to “have it all planned out” is constantly there. Yet most of us will probably don’t know our life’s vocation yet. Some of us many not know what it is for some time… each day we must renew our desire to simply hope, and trust, and be a handmaiden of the Lord, ready to say “Fiat”.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'Plans
to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Eternity is why we are here. Hope is what keeps this foremost in our minds and hearts. How bleak, how empty life would be if we had only 70 or 80 or 90 years here, and nothing more. But we know that this time is but the blink of an eye in light of eternity.

Bl. Juliana of Norwich (14th-15th Century English Mystic, Visionary,

“He did not say: You will not be assailed, you will not be belabored, you will not be disquieted, but he did say: You will not be overcome.”

“All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all manner of things shall be well.”

(I had always loved that last quote, which Bear uses in Regina Doman's first book, but it was not until I prepared the above reflection that I learned who first said it! I thought that was pretty neat!)

~ ~ ~

More on Hope...
- Words for hope, from the online Thesaurus:
Anticipation – Expectancy – Longing – Security – Trust
- Think about it: To hope in vs. hope for something is different: the first ("hope in") means we know with certainty that what we hope is in true, but the second ("hope for") means we only long for it.

- From the Holy Mass: “In your mercy keep us free from sin, and protect us in all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Other quotes:
“Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon the unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all; faith means believing the unbelievable, or it is no virtue at all; and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

“Love is faith’s flower, hope is its stem. Grace comes into us by faith, like water through the roots of a tree. It rises in us by hope, like sap rising through the trunk of a tree. And it matures in us by [love] as fruit matures on a tree’s branches, fruit for the neighbor’s eating.” (Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You)

“Faith is the root, the necessary beginning. Hope is the stem, the energy that makes the plant grow. Love is the fruit, the flower, the visible product, the bottom line. The plant of our new life in Christ is one; the life of God comes into us by faith, through us by hope, and out of us by the works of love.” (Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith)

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

“But we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:23-25)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9)

“But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

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