Fr. Paul, one of our associate Pastors, gave a wonderful sermon this weekend about the Virtue of Hope...and explained it in a way that I have never heard it explained before. I have always had a hard time with this one, it seems that Faith and Charity are self-explanatory to me...but Hope is somehow different.
We can say that 'we hope we make it to Heaven'...but that is not the Virtue in the true sense. If we are to develop this Hope within us, we must follow the example of Our Lady as She waited for and expected the Birth of Jesus, Her Son...She expected it! She had hope that God was going to come through with His promise to Her, and to the world.
She knew that He would do this ~ She simply had to be patient ~ another one of Her strong points...and She was absolutely right! There was never a question in Her mind that He would fulfill His word...She never lost Her hope in His salvation!
No matter what came to Her during Her lifetime, how hard She would have to work, what She would have to suffer, how much She would desperately love this Divine Son of Hers and miss Him when He was on His own without Her...all that She cared about was the fact that the Promise that the Eternal Father had made to Her ~ and to all of us ~ would come to pass in His good time.
She had Hope!
As Fr. Paul pointed out, God has not forgotten any of His other children, either. He made us to be happy, with Him, forever. He does not need us for His own happiness; He is complete unto Himself. He wants to keep us near Him, for our happiness, not His! He has shown us the way to Him, in, with and though His Son ~ as per the Doxology of the Holy Mass ~ and if we uphold our end of the bargain we will make it to Heaven!
We can truly hope in His Divine Mercy and the fact that our eternal happiness is exactly what He wants, more than anything else!
As a matter of fact, to not have this Hope in His Plan for us is to be insulting in the worst way. This would negate the Virtue of Faith, as well...if we had no Hope we would also have no Faith!
If we did not expect Him to save us, to bring us to Him in the end, what would be the point in believing in Him in the first place?!?
He would be unimportant...after all, we would not be going to Him, to Heaven...so why bother? And if we had no Faith in this, we would have no need to expect anything, either!!!
As it follows, therefore, we would also have no need of the Virtue of Charity ~ why be good to our neighbor if it gets us nothing and nowhere?!? Why not simply follow the dictates of our own desires and passions? Why not put ourselves first and above all else?
I see now the relationship between these three Virtues in a way in which I have never quite seen it before...I had always understood that I had to have Faith, a belief in my God, He Who loves me and Who has saved me for Himself. I always knew that I was expected to treat my neighbors with kindness, with love and understanding, not being judgmental or unforgiving, but giving myself to service when ever the opportunity presents itself...hence, a real need for the Virtue of Charity in my life! The Golden Rule, the brotherhood of man, the way to be...
But now that I see the Virtue of Hope in this light, I can fully understand that to 'hope I make it' is not enough...I know I will! I expect it!
I gaze upon a painting of Our Lady holding Her beloved Jesus close to Her own breast and it all makes sense to me ~ She gave Him human life, He gave Her eternal life. She waited patiently and calmly for His arrival and His salvation. I must do the same...during this holy Season of Advent ~ the most hopeful time of the year...and in Charity, I will give during the Season for giving to my neighbor; in Faith, I will believe that my God will come to me; and in Hope, I will expect the fulfillment of His Promise, both for myself and for all of mankind!