Saturday, March 06, 2021



HOPE is a word often uttered as casually as asking someone ‘how are you?’ The interlocutor is not seeking a detailed list of how one is doing, rather it is a type of casual and somewhat sincere greeting. So, saying to someone we hope everything is going well for them is of the same ilk.

Far from its use referencing a gift of the Holy Spirit, the word hope for many simply means expectation of something material such as hoping for a raise at work or fine weather to go skiing, or that our favourite team will win the game.

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts……[1]

It is precisely because the Church, and all Her baptized members, are endowed with the virtue of hope at Baptism that every hope of every human being, no matter what is actually contained in those hopes, are taken into the heart of the Church, the hearts of all Christians.

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 . . . 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." 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……..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. [2]

Like all gifts of the Holy Spirit hope is offered, not imposed. We must accept and live rooted in all His gifts, such as the gift of hope, which can be a tough thing to do in this seemingly unending pandemic and the stress of lives turned upside down, not merely because of the virus but the sheer unceasing pressure of government edicts about masks, social distancing, the outright closing of places of worship or restricting how many people can attend and interfering with aspects of the Liturgy such as distribution of the Precious Blood.

There is both a graced and emotional component to hope: joy!

Here too it is a choice. If we obsess about the latest news, from whatever source, about the pandemic stats, the arguments about the vaccines, or focus too much on isolation, how food and everything we need keeps increasing in price, then the very size of our self pity swimming pool where we hold, all alone, self pity parties, will sap away our strength to live, to hope, to keep our gaze on Christ our hope who loves us so.

Granted it may be these days we only see the eyes of another above the compulsory masks, or see their actual beautiful faces via video chats, in all cases the truth is we actually see, in every human face, the beautiful Holy Face of Christ and His eyes burning with the fire of His love for us. Indeed: It is only in the eyes of another, in the face of another, that we can find the icon or image of Christ. There are many ways of praising God, many ways of praying to Him, many ways of searching for Him. But today there is one great way, one profound way, one gentle, tender, and compassionate way. It is by a person-to-person love…..[3]

Spiritual warfare is the moment by moment reality of life, and in this pandemic it is intense and may well be felt as simply too much on top of all the impact of the pandemic. This is what satan wants us to think so that we will bend towards ourselves, abandon hope, faith and trust in the God who loves us, redeems us, strengthens us, is Himself our hope, dwells with us every step of the way on our pilgrimage to Him from whom we originate.

Yes it is reasonable, even necessary, we pray for an end to this pandemic scourge. Our Elder Brothers and Sisters in faith, the Jewish people, struggled on the long journey of forty years in the desert and during the Holocaust as well. Surely in both instances some gave into despair, some felt God had abandoned them, but those who kept faith, continued to hope, reached the Promised Land in the first instance, and in the latter were alive when the camps were liberated.

In the first centuries of the Christian era our ancestors were martyred by the thousands, as has happened across the millennia to this day, in the death camps of WWII, the Russian Gulag, the modern concentration camps of today, and we are also persecuted not by blood but in various nefarious means by leftist governments and media.

This is what is means to be faithful disciples of Christ: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”  [Jn. 15: 18-20]

St. John Paul II reminded us that: “Christ, Crucified and Risen, is our only true hope.”

No vaccines, changes of government, economies, etc., etc., can give true hope, only Christ. Our

loving task, through prayer, word, gesture, is to radiate Christ to everyone so that in the darkness of this pandemic everyone, in the Light of Christ, has true hope.

[1] Gaudium et Spes, # 1 ~ italics are mine

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, paras: 1817, 1818, 1820 ~ italics are mine

[3] LIVING THE GOSPEL WITHOUT COMPROMISE, Catherine Doherty; p. 17; Madonna House Publications, 2002 edition, italics are mine.



© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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