THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES
1. The theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are the basis on which the Christian's moral life is based. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they guide the living Christian in the righteousness of God.
2. These virtues give the Christian life and form his special character. God instills these virtues in the soul of the faithful to permit them to behave as His children to become worthy of eternal life. These virtues are a reflection of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit within the Christian. (C.C.C. # 1813, 1841)
3. The greatest of these virtues is the virtue of love. [1 Cor. 13:13]
4. Through the theological virtue of hope, the Christian is inclined to desire communion (a union) with the Trinity of God. The virtue of hope originates from God through the grace of faith. It draws the Christian towards God, providing him with hope in God. Also, the Christian loves God because He is God. (C.C.C. # 1812, 1840)
5. By himself, man is unable to love God. He is raised by the grace of God to love Him above all things, to hope in Him and to voluntarily perform all his actions according to what the love of God requires of Him.
THE VIRTUE OF HOPE
6. Hope is the virtue that makes the Christian crave for the Kingdom of God. Having heard of the Kingdom of God, he wants to go there. The virtue of hope stirs the Christian to desire eternal life as his final happiness. It draws him to place his trust in the promises of Jesus Christ, relying on the grace and help of the Holy Spirit to achieve this final goal. "Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful." [Heb. 10:23]
7. The Holy Spirit is richly poured out on the Christians through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, they might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." [Titus 3:6-7] (C.C.C. # 1817)
THE EFFECTS OF HOPE
8. Hope answers the Christian's strong burning desires for happiness, a desire that God has implanted in every heart. It includes the inspirations that lead to his actions, making them pure of heart so they are oriented towards the Kingdom of God. It gives the Christian strength so he will not become discouraged. It supports the Christian when he feels deserted. Hope makes the Christian's heart shine in anticipation of eternal supreme blessedness. Encouraged by the virtue of hope, the Christian is preserved from self-concern, leading him to greater happiness that comes from charity. (C.C.C. # 1818)
THE HOPE OF ABRAHAM
9. Through Christian hope, God's children have their hope fulfilled. Hope was observed in Abraham who was the model of Christians. Abraham was purified by God when he was tested, having been asked to sacrifice his son. [Gen. 22:1-18] Consequently, God blessed Abraham abundantly. [Gen. 17:4-8] "Hoping against hope, Abraham believed that he would become 'the father of many nations' according to what was said." [Rom. 4:18] (C.C.C. # 1819)
THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTIAN HOPE
10. Christian hope originated when Jesus preached the beatitudes. [Mt. 5:1-12] Through the beatitudes, the Christians began to long for the Promised Land, their souls hoping towards Heaven. They now participate in the race to receive an imperishable wreath. [1 Cor. 9:25] They are prepared to face persecution because Jesus was also persecuted. [Jn. 15:20]
11. The Christian should never view suffering as a sign that God has abandoned him. Rather, he should wholeheartedly thank God for the suffering, accepting these trial as a test in faith which will lead to his sanctification, bringing about endurance, character and hope. [Rom. 5:3-4]
12. Through the grace of Jesus, the Lord's suffering and death on the Holy Cross, the Christian has a "hope that does not disappoint, God's love having been poured into his heart through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to them." [Rom. 5:5]
THE BENEFITS OF HOPE
13. Christians have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. It enters the Kingdom of God where Jesus has gone as forerunner (Jesus being the first) on their behalf. [Heb. 6:19-20]
14. Why does the Christian want to enter the Kingdom of God? Because he wants to receive his salvation! Salvation then becomes his greatest goal.
15. Hope is one of the weapons of the Armour of God. It protects the Christian in his battle for salvation. "Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." [1 Thess. 5:8]
16. During hardships, the Christian maintains hope. "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer." [Rom. 12:12] In prayer, the hope of the Christian is expressed and provides him with the necessary grace for life and growth.
17. This hope is especially found in the 'Our Father', the most beautiful prayer which Jesus has taught. It includes all what the hope of the Christian heart desires to achieve. (C.C.C. # 1820) As such, the Christian is urged to pray, that he may receive from God what he hopes to secure from Him.
18. When the Christian receives from God what he hopes for in prayer, he is receiving God's favour. Therefore, prayer becomes an instrument of hope for the Christian. It is essential to the Christian so he can contemplate on his imperfections. He can then properly dispose himself to turn his whole being towards God, sincerely asking Him with devotion and reverence what he hopes to receive from his prayer.
19. Jesus would not have told the Christians to pray to the Heavenly Father unless He knew that the Father would hear their prayers. It is the same in worldly dealings. No one asks someone for something unless he hopes to obtain what he is asking for. It is also common sense that as someone asks his neighbour only what he needs, the Christian should also ask God for only what he needs. This is learned in the prayer, 'Our Father'. Jesus teaches the Christian that when he wants to ask something of God, to ask in hope, while teaching him what to hope for.
20. In the 'Our Father', the Christian anchors his hope on God. He "trusts in Him at all times; pouring out his heart before Him." [Ps. 62:8] "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." [Ps. 118:9] The Christian should not put his trust in men [Job. 4:18], only hoping in God. Then, the Christian realizes that "the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seek Him." [Lam. 3:25]
REMEMBERING THE HOPE OF OTHERS
21. During prayers, the Christian should always give thanks to God for the other christians. He should constantly remember before God and the Heavenly Father their work of faith, their labour of love and their steadfast hope in Jesus Christ. [1 Thess. 1:2-3]
HOPE WITHIN ONE'S REACH
22. What should the Christian hope for when he prays to God? Regarding this, the Christian should perceive that before hope comes desire. You first desire something and then you hope for it. What is not desired is not hoped for! If the Christian lived in the city and someone gave him a horse, he would not want it. He would have no place for it. The horse would not be part of his desire, nor his hope. The horse would then become the source of a headache - what to do with it?
IS HOPE POSSIBLE?
23. Before hoping for something, the Christian must determine if his hope is possible. Can he really obtain it? This must be answered before desiring for something. Would a Christian desire a horse if he was living in the City and farm animals are not permitted? Certainly not! Therefore, before hoping for something, the Christian must know it is possible and he desires it with all his heart.
24. It should be noted that while city dwellers can desire to have a horse, they do not believe they will get one because most cities have By-Laws that do not allow it. Therefore, such desires do not include the true value of hope. It is a desire without hope.
IS HOPE DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN?
25. Finally, hope includes the desire of something that is difficult to obtain. If the unemployment rate is extremely low because there are many jobs available, there is no hope involved. A person can go out and get a job. But if the unemployment is very high and the person has been unemployed for months, then there is hope that his prayer will be answered and he will secure a job. The hope is then possible, desired and difficult to obtain. It meets all the characteristics of the virtue of hope.
PETITION VERSUS PRAYER
26. At the same time, there are two classes of hopes. There is the hope of obtaining something which the Christian can obtain by himself through his own efforts such as creating his own job. Then, there is the hope of obtaining something through petitions, his hope being answered by the resources of others.
27. If the man's hope is answered by the resources of others, it is called 'petition'. But, if his hope is answered by the grace of God, it is called 'prayer'. Therefore, a prayer to God must be possible, desired and difficult to obtain. It includes complete trust in God and His Divine Providence.
DEFINING CHRISTIAN HOPE
28. Christian hope is God oriented. It excludes the Christian's own ability or the help of others. It is a hope that places God first because "curse are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord." [Jer. 17:5]
29. Therefore, Christians should remember that hope involves something that is possible to obtain, is desired, is difficult to obtain and is supplied by the grace of God rather than by the efforts of men.
THE OBLIGATION TO HOPE
30. The Christian is obligated to hope for the glory that God has promised. "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God." [Rom 8:28] This glory is the reward of those who obey Him. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven." [Mt. 7:21]
31. The Christian should pray for the grace of God, to be strengthen in his hope, to endure to the end and be saved. [Mt. 10:22] Hoping on behalf of all, the Church directs its prayers to God, "desiring that everyone be saved." [1 Tim. 2:4] The burning desire of the Church is to one day be united with Jesus Christ, her Bridegroom [Mt. 25:6], to share in the glory of Heaven. (C.C.C. # 1821)
32. Through hope, the Christian experiences an ongoing burning longing deep within his soul. With faithful trust, he anticipates from God the promised eternal life and the meriting grace to deserve it. (C.C.C. # 1843)
33. Hope is a virtue that is meant to be shared with other Christians. It is awakened within the soul through the grace of the Almighty Father, such action having been planned before the creation of time. In love for others, the living Christian should witness regarding this Divine blessing which he has received. In his heart, he should sanctify Christ as Lord. He should always be ready to make his defense to anyone who demands from him an accounting for the hope that is in him. [1 Pet. 3:15]
34. His account should be given with gentleness and reverence. The Christian must keep his conscience clear, so that, when he is slandered, those who abuse him for his good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. [1 Pet. 3:16]
HOPE FOR THE GREATER PURPOSE OF LIFE
35. The virtue of hope is a blessing of the Lord that is granted to the Christian, God having willed this before the creation of the world. As a grace of God, it has been given to the Christian through abounding Divine love. Through the Holy Spirit, God's love and grace progresses and maintains the hope of the Christian. In pursuit towards the reward of hope, the Christian has sufficient graces from the virtue of hope to encourage him to search for the greater purpose of life.
36. Similar to other gifts provided by the grace of God, hope increases in amount based on the Christian's spiritual progress. The progress follows this course of action:
Each level of progress is rich in itself.
- Hope in God.
- Hope in Jesus Christ.
- Hope for eternal life.
- Hope in salvation.
FAITH AND HOPE
37. Every Christian hopes for the greater things of life. Although this self-motivating hope begins as an ordinary hope, it is still a hope towards happiness. This inborn hope has been rooted in every soul through the goodness and grace of God. God hears the call of His servant which He has made to hope. [Ps. 119:49]
38. As the Christian searches in faith towards the better things of life, he hopes to find the answer that will bring him an extremely happy existence. Through the Holy Spirit, by faith, the Christian eagerly waits for the hope of righteousness. [Gal. 5:5]
39. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Christian's faithful pursuit in hope of finding joy and peace is directed towards the truth of God. The knowledge of truth results from faith in God. From faith and the knowledge of truth, the Christian can then have hope, directing his intention towards the right goal.
HOPE IN GOD
40. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the God of hope fills the Christian with joy and peace in believing so that he may abound in hope. [Rom. 15:13]
41. The new found increased hope directs the Christian towards God, remembering to perform His works and to obey His commandments. [Ps. 78:7]
42. The christian holds firmly in God. He does not want God to take away the Words of truth in which so much hope has been placed. [Ps. 119:43] The christian who seeks hope is then directed towards Jesus Christ.
HOPE IN JESUS CHRIST
43. Having been guided by the Holy Spirit towards Jesus Christ, the Christian welcomes Jesus, the Son of God, as his new hope. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God the Saviour, placed his hope in Jesus Christ Who was his hope. [1 Tim. 1:1]
44. The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself and God the Father, Who both love the Christian, through grace give him eternal comfort and good hope. They comfort his heart and strengthen him in every good work and word. [2 Thess. 2:17] What does the Christian wait for now that he has found his hope in the Lord? [Ps. 39:7]
45. He wants to grow in his personal relationship with Jesus Christ so he can correct all of his sinful ways. Night and day, he constantly prays in hope of seeing the face of Jesus and perfect what is lacking in his faith. [1 Thess. 3:10]
HOPE FOR ETERNAL LIFE
46. In his continued search for eternal life, the Christian studies the Scriptures, the Word of God. He learns that whatever things were written in former days was written for his instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures, he might have hope. [Rom. 15:4]
47. This hope, eternal life, comes from God Who cannot lie, having been promised to the Christian before the world began. [Tit. 1:2] To attain eternal life and from the study of the Scripture, the Christian learns that he must strive further towards the hope that leads to salvation.
48. The hope of the Christian is now becoming his vision for the day of glory when "the Lord will become King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be One and His Name One." [Zech. 14:9]
HOPE FOR SALVATION 49. The searching Christian learns that the hope of salvation is found through the Lord and begins by obeying His commandments. [Ps. 119:166] The hope that the Christian seeks in Heaven is written in the Word of the truth in the Gospel. [Col. 1:5]
50. This hope teaches that there is one Body and one Holy Spirit, the Christian having been called in one hope of this special calling. [Eph. 4:4] Resulting from this hope, the Christian is led towards salvation in Jesus Christ through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism. Through Baptism, he is reborn, receiving the new heart and spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit that God promised to His people in the day of the Old Testament.
51. Salvation is the end result that the Christian aims for. It is his assurance of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Through this end result, the hope that was formerly believed about God will finally be seen. What the Christian had hoped for, not enjoying it, he will finally enjoy it, possessing it as if being present in time when he obtains his salvation.
52. The Christian must always remain alert so he will not be misled in false hopes that will turn him away from his salvation. The hope of money is a false hope, being the root of all evil. The Christian who "is eager to be rich will wander away from the faith and pierce himself with many pains." [1 Tim. 6:10]
53. The Christian who "forgets God will perish; the hope of the godless shall perish." [Job 8:13] "What is the hope of the godless when God cuts them off, when God takes away their lives?" [Job. 27:8]
54. "When the wicked die, their hope perishes, and the expectations of the godless comes to nothing." [Prov. 11:7]
55. The christian should run away from false hopes, never believing that there is a lot of time remaining to attend to his salvation. He should attend to his salvation now while there is hope, while the grace, mercy and patience of God remains waiting.
HOPE FOR DIVINE PROTECTION
56. The Christian who grows in the Divine love of Jesus endures long-suffering with patience, rejoicing in hope, remaining steadfast in prayer. [Rom. 12:12] The Lord is the refuge of the Christian in the day of disaster [Jer. 17:17], his hope during tribulations. The heart of the Christian is glad, and his soul rejoices; his body resting secure. [Ps. 16:9]
57. The Lord is abundantly good. He is the one and only hope of the Christian. The Lord leads the Christian in the path of hope. If necessary, as a loving parent who corrects his child in an act of love, God purifies the sinner before it is too late, chastening him without attending to his cries. "Discipline your children while there is hope; do not set your heart on their destruction." [Prov. 19:18]
58. The Christian may shed tears today because God appears to be cruel but he will thank God tomorrow because of His infinite act of love! God's love maintains one's hope, an eternal and joyful hope.
DIVINE LOVE ABOUNDS IN HOPE
59. In His infinite goodness, the God of hope fills the loyal Christian with joy and peace in believing so he will abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Rom. 15:13] This is one of the many earthly rewards bestowed upon the Christian who seeks the way of God.
60. The Christian knows that "love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It hears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things." [1 Cor. 13:4-7]
THE FULFILLMENT OF HOPE
61. When someone hopes for something, he must know within reason that there is a possibility that he will achieve his goal. One may say, can the Christian obtain the Kingdom of God? If he cannot, his hope and prayers would be a waste of time. The assurance of the Christian is his faith and hope in the Words of Jesus. Jesus said: "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." [Lk. 12:32]
This ends the course on "The Virtue of Hope". This course has been very detailed on the subject of hope. If a student takes the time to memorized the complete content of this course, he will be very enriched in his knowledge of this virtue. It is hoped that you enjoyed this course and that you have gained much knowledge to help you spiritually grow.
Our ministry sincerely hopes that this course has opened your eyes to the understanding of the virtue of hope. It is our desire to see that all our Christian brothers and sisters grow in the grace and love of the Lord.
May the Holy Spirit continue to guide you in your spiritual studies and enrich you in the virtue of hope. Remember, the more you please the Lord through your personal spiritual growth, the more He blesses you with His graces!
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