The Catechism of the Council of Trent says that the virtue of hope is the desire to see the Beatific Vision, the face of God, as well as to attain the graces that will help us to do what is necessary to get there. Like faith, this too is an infused virtue, meaning it is given by God and not something that we can acquire on our own. However, the will can be inclined to seek after hope and to await the reward of God. In other words, we can make a conscience decision to hope and with that decision, God can infuse greater hope if He so chooses.
In this week's podcast, Fr. Ripperger explains how hope brings us happiness because we trust in God to give us the gift of salvation rather than in ourselves or in others and our souls innately recognize this right order. This virtue motivates us to do something so that we are living a life that is pleasing to God, rather than just sitting still in existence waiting to see what comes after death.
Things in our Church and in our world look rather dark right now, but the virtue of hope can give us greater hope. The Psalms say that "The Lord still dwelleth in His holy temple, still is His throne set up in heaven." God is still God and He is still in charge. This alone gives us hope.
So where are some areas that we see a lack of hope in our families and how can we help? Fr. Ripperger shares three sins against the virtue of hope. When these sins raise their ugly heads in our families we must address the issues surrounding them and be prepared to defeat this monster rather than allowing it to devour our loved ones.
The first sin against hope is despair. It is called a sin against the Holy Spirit. It is the loss of the hope of salvation. Oftentimes this comes from a lack of understanding in the power of God. One may believe that their sins are too big to be forgiven so there is no way to obtain salvation. So they just give up on the hope of ever seeing the Beatific Vision.
The second sin against hope is spiritual sloth. This is a "why bother" attitude. It stems from a vending machine idea of faith. I say my prayers, I go to Mass, I'm basically a good person but my life is not as I think it should be so why bother continuing these worthless practices?
The third sin against hope is presumption. This is a big one in our culture. It is rooted in pride. One might think that they are a good person; they're kind to others, open doors for old ladies, picket to save the seals, drop money in the red bucket at Christmas time, etc. Isn't that enough to get to Heaven? Why do I need a relationship with an invisible being? Another exercise of presumption is committing sin knowingly with an intention of going to Confession the next day.
These sins against the virtue of hope are rampant in our families. So what can we do about it?
1) Pray - this is obvious of course, but oftentimes this is the last thing we do before we give up on a spouse or a child when it should actually be the first thing we do. Sometimes God just patiently waits for us to ask for His help and then for us to get out of the way so He can move in.
2) Have faith - Through prayer we grow in faith and believe that our prayers will be answered. Our Lord and Our Lady love our spouse and our children even more than we do, so we can truly believe that they will never give up on our family member and we shouldn't either.
3) Hope - If we are concerned because a loved one has lost hope, we must ask for more hope so we have it to give by encouragement.
4) Unconditional love - Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, we never give up hope and we never stop loving. Sometimes that love may have to be tough love requiring the one who has lost hope to get spiritual or psychological help, but that too is done in love.
St. Augustine once said, "There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith." We can see how they all work together for everyone's good.
I hope you are still working on CANA 40. Comment below and tell us how it is going.