By Alicia Winters
I am not sure about you but trying to stay hopeful lately has been tough. I try to stay hopeful that our Church hierarchy will fight for “truth” and keep churches open for Mass. I try to stay hopeful that there still are good priests in our Church when more and more scandals are revealed so frequently. I try to stay hopeful while there are riots on our streets where innocent people are victimized and criminals are praised. I try to stay hopeful that the election results will somehow turn out differently than they are. I find myself feeling depleted with these seemingly “hopeless” hopes. So, I ask myself this question, “How does a Catholic grapple with these disappointing hopes when Romans 5:5 tells us “hope does not disappoint us”? Let us turn to the Church to see what she says about hope.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 387 says that hope is a virtue “by which we desire and await from God eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit to merit it and to persevere to the end of our earthly life.” This quote reveals that hope is something much greater than temporal desires. Hope is not simply believing that a certain presidential candidate will be elected, only to be disappointed if it does not happen. Hope is something that transcends the material world and reminds us that there is a better life to come.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. Having hope in God does not mean that we simply dismiss injustice on this earth because we presuppose that God will do everything for us. This is not what Christ calls us to. Saint Augustine says that “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” St. Augustine reminds us here that righteous anger is the correct response when it comes to injustice. We cannot be ignorant to the fact that Satan does exist and is constantly on the prowl to increase evil in the world. 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion.” Therefore, we must recognize evil and it should anger us. Nevertheless, St. Augustine reminds us in the second part of this quote that evil does not dismiss the hope that we have in Christ.
Revelations 21:4 tells us that Christ “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” This is where our hope lies. Our hope is in the fact that Christ has prepared a place for each of us individually since the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). Our hope is in the fact that the Son of Man loves us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20). Our hope is in the fact that the Son of Man is always with us in every suffering (Psalm 16:8). What greater hope could we have then this?
So then, fellow Franciscan students, put your hope solely in Christ. Stay awake. Do not succumb to ignorance. Do not dismiss the presence of evil in this world, but do not give into hopelessness. Christ takes every measure to show us that He feels our pains through His suffering, His death, and His descent into Hell-the epitome of human hopelessness. His Resurrection shows us that He conquers all evil. Hell has no power over Christ, for He has already won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55). Therefore, live your life with full confidence in the promises of Christ. As St. Augustine reminds us, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” Live your life knowing that Christ came to give you abundant life (John 10:10). Live your life knowing that if the world hates you, it hated Christ first, so there is no need to despair (John 15:18). No matter what trials come our way, we can confidently say, “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in thee” (Psalm 39:7).