By Bruce Dougherty
"As we all know, many people are suffering today, and the future seems uncertain, especially in light of the election here in the United States. To be sure, this world is inconstant. So, in what or in whom can we trust?
Regarding worldly leaders, Scripture says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help” (Ps 146:3). Psalm 60:11 says: “O grant us help against the foe, for vain is the help of man!” Psalm 108:12 tells us: “O grant us help against the foe, for vain is the help of man!” We cannot trust in political leaders and so on to save us.
But whatever happens in the world, we can always and must always hope in God. Life can be fragile and precarious, but God is ever trustworthy and solid. As King David said, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps 18:2). Psalm 42:11 and Psalm 43:5 use identical wording: “Hope in God.”
So what precisely is hope in God?
Hope is one of the three theological virtues (that is, virtues whose immediate object is God): “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Hope in God is one of the most important virtues.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (a summary of the full Catechism) teaches us: “Hope is the theological 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.” (387)
It is better to give you the official teaching of the Church than personal musings or numerous quotes by various individuals, helpful though they may be, for we live and die by the teaching of the Church. Here is what the Church teaches on hope in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
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 . . . he 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.
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