Thursday, October 9, 2008

Increase Our Hope

Collapsing banks, the real estate dilemma and stock markets falling, political agendas and heated presidential campaigns, rising costs of living that surpass cost of living increases, wars and human suffering. The list of discouraging news goes on and on. I rarely turn on the evening news these days. It’s always the same old bad news simply being played out on a different street.

When I think about it there really isn’t a lot going on in the world that makes me feel hopeful about the modern economic and political situation. Perhaps that is a fault that I have though I really don’t think it is. I choose to think that all these situations are modern day pointers directing my attention toward hope that is real hope rather than all the illusions that are masquerading as hope, illusions that are nothing more than dry, waterless wells offering nothing but buckets of sand to dehydrated souls.

What we hope for will always become a driving motivational force in our lives. Hope may indeed signify desire but not all desires represent virtue. Selfish desires do, in fact, more often represent the operation of a lack of virtue. I have to rescue the word hope from most of its present common usage if I am going to understand its intended meaning. I have to look to a more historical meaning of the word. I have to think of hope as a theological virtue.

“Theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being.”[1]

To understand hope in this light brings me to only one conclusion. I need regular and generous infusions of the virtue. There are too many times when I honestly don’t feel like or act like a child of God and when I compare my own spiritual life to the lives of so many of the living and departed saints it makes me wonder how one such as me could possibly merit the promise of heaven.

Here, in the clamor and fog of life, in an all too real world that peddles only illusions and false dreams, hope’s bell rings out with clarity calling and leading beyond all that is seen by the natural eye, beyond all that is experienced by the natural senses, beyond all the desires and cravings of the natural, carnal self.

I have to remind myself, where the theological virtue of hope is concerned, that “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.”[2] It is this Eternal City that we hope for. But, even more than this, our hope is the King who is enthroned in the Eternal City.

It is the King that our souls long for. He is our hope. “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”[3] To know him is to desire him. He desires to be our greatest desire, our greatest anticipation, our greatest expectation. Could it be, through repeated infusions of hope, that he could possibly become our only desire?

[1] CCC, #1812
[2] Hebrews 13:14
[3] John 17:3