Danielle Heckenkamp offers ponders the virtue of hope and offers 7 ways to find hope.
There’s always hope, even in a hopeless world. The virtue of hope tends to take a back seat in comparison to that of faith and charity. But hope shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, our growth in faith and charity is quite difficult to attain without hope. As the Catholic Church teaches, the only theological virtue in heaven is charity, but faith and hope are incredibly important on this earth as they assist in carrying us along the path towards our eternal reward.
So, what is hope? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, hope is defined as “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” (CCC 1817) Our growth in the virtue of hope is parallel to that of accepting God’s Will in our lives. This, however, is easier said then done. We read about many saints who asked Our Lord to use them for His glory. These saintly souls only wanted to spend their time on this earth glorifying God and it showed through their holy lives. This is our purpose to live our lives for God’s glory – “to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.”
Many of us are guilty of placing “hope” in worldly endeavors. Maybe this is the desire of finding that eternal joy in volunteering our time, earning money, recognition, or a career. As none of these things are evil in themselves, they also can distract us from our ultimate goal in this life and for His desire for us in the next.
God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (CCC 1)
The virtue of hope could be described as one of the most difficult to understand. It is a belief in the fulfillment of God’s promises. This isn’t always easy to comprehend as we pass through this valley of death, especially in a world where unhappiness, material possession, and evil appear to be more prevalent. Yet, many theologians have stated that where there is great evil, there is greater holiness. Examining the lives of the saints throughout history, many of them lived a quiet life. They didn’t desire pompous displays of their holiness and they did not desire worldly affirmation (in fact, they despised it). Of course, there were saints who were well-known during their time due to their work, such as St. Catherine of Siena or St. Vincent de Paul, but they did not seek recognition – only the glory of God and His Will.
The devil desires us to wallow in feelings of hopelessness. He wants us to shrink from the good, from spiritual growth, and the ability to seek joy even amidst suffering. It is in a state of isolation and despair that we falter in hope. For hope is not only to desire heaven, but ultimately, the desire to be with God. It is not solely heaven that will bring us true eternal joy, but God’s beatific vision in heaven.
The apparent problems of this current world are not an isolated moment in history. The strife, suffering, and power struggle have always been present in the sorrows of this world – the only differences have been in regards to specific persons or events. Knowing this, it is apparent that we will never find true happiness in this life, even though sometimes we temporarily seek it. To accept sufferings and spiritual darkness are truly gifts from God, as these moments help us remember that we are not made for this world. Those moments are opportunities for growth in virtue, especially the virtue of hope. Through sufferings we can unite ourselves with Christ’s sufferings, but also know that these difficulties have a purpose in our spiritual 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. (CCC 1818)
7 ways to find hope in a hopeless world:
- Uniting our souls with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – this is our small taste of heaven on earth. It will bring us immeasurable graces and a stronger desire to be with God in heaven.
- The Sacrament of Confession – this is truly a miraculous gift as our sins are taken away by Our Lord and graces are given help us battle future occasions of sin.
- Morning prayers in offering our thoughts, worlds, and actions that the day with bring.
- Appreciating God’s beauty through His creation. (i.e. family, friends, nature – a beautiful sunset, the change of the seasons)
- Meditating upon Christ’s life and passion.
- Meditation upon the life of His Blessed Mother.
- Hugging our spouse and children more frequently – they are truly gifts. Each new baby shows God’s desire for the world to grow in hope.
Copyright 2021 Danielle Heckenkamp
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About the Author
Danielle Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and six children. Danielle writes about her daily experiences as a mom and love for her Catholic Faith. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. You can step inside Danielle s daily life on Instagram.