Friday, August 4, 2017

Hope is Trust

Faith, Hope and Charity are often called the Cardinal Virtues, the key ones, yet often we forget their importance.  Faith is a belief in God, His actions and His promises, even if we cannot see them.  We believe.  Hope, however, is a most difficult virtue, because it goes beyond belief to trust.  “You’re falling; take My hand.”  Hope puts our life on the line --- how much do you really trust God?
I know for many years of my life I had Faith, even those years when I never went to church.  And when disasters came into my life, I still had Faith.  But Hope?  Did I trust in God when things didn’t go as I planned?  No, I don’t think so.  I may have even prayed to Him in my sorrows, but I had little hope that He would answer.  In my sorrows, I tried to make MY plans to change things for the better.  And so, I guess it isn’t surprising that, looking back, I had little Charity.  Faith, Hope and Charity, and the greatest of these is Charity.  But unsaid is that without Faith and Hope, you cannot have real Charity.  And, in my experience, the lynchpin to obtaining Charity is focusing on Hope.
So, when I read words on Hope, tonight, which said all that is in my heart about Hope, I wanted to remember them.  I think there are many things which may make Hope difficult to achieve --- dysfunctional family life, fathers or mothers who didn’t know how to love, siblings who were totally selfish, or even tragic events totally beyond our control --- “Why, God, did You let this happen?”  Hope, trust in God no matter what, may be more difficult for some of us at some times, but it is not impossible.
I read these words tonight from the book Divine Intimacy:
The Motive for Hope
Divine Intimacy, Meditation 247
Our hope is sure because it is founded, not on ourselves, but on God, on His infinite goodness, on His salvific will which desires “all men to be saved.” (I Tm 4:3)
The certitude of our hope is derived from the certitude of our faith.  It is the certitude which gives us full confidence in Someone who we know loves us.  “Greater love than this, no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13) This is the basis for the certitude of our hope.  … because we know in spite of our misery and our weakness, God is always ready to help us, provided we humbly acknowledge our nothingness and place all our trust in Him.  St. Therese of the Child Jesus said: “Holiness does not consist in this or that practice; it consists in a disposition of heart which makes us humble and little in the arms of God, boldly confident in our Father’s goodness.  If we withdraw into ourselves after our falls and weaknesses, we clip the wings of hope and only sink more deeply in our misery.
If, in the face of difficulties and sacrifices imposed on us by our duties, we stop to calculate our strength, we will draw back and be tempted to give up; but if, on the contrary, we stop looking at ourselves and turn our eyes to God, to His infinite love, the certitude of His help will give us the strength to go on.  Firm hope in Him will be the lever of our life.
A Prayer
Almighty, omnipotent Lord, show me my poverty so that I may confess it.  I said that I was rich and that I needed nothing; I did not know that I was poor, blind, naked, wretched, and miserable.  I believed that I was something and I was nothing.  I said, “I shall become wise,” and I became foolish; I thought that I was prudent, but I deceived myself.  And I see now that wisdom is Your gift, that without You we can do nothing, for if You, O God, do not keep the city, he watches in vain that keeps it.  You taught me this that I might know myself; You abandoned me and you tried me … so that I would know myself.  You had hardly gone a short distance from me when I fell.  Then I saw and knew that You were guiding me; if I fell, it was my own fault, and if I rose again, it was by Your help.
O my God, I could despair on account of my great sins and my innumerable negligences … but I dare not because I, who was at one time Your enemy, have been reconciled to You by the death of Your Son; and not only reconciled, but I have been saved by Him.  That is why all my hope and the certitude of my confidence is in His precious Blood which was shed for us and for our salvation.
I live content in my hope because You are true to Your promises; nevertheless, because I do not possess You as yet, I groan beneath the weight of desire.  Grant that I may persevere in this desire until what You have promised comes to pass; then my groaning will be over and praise alone will resound.
-          Prayer of St. Augustine

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