Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What is Hope? (virtues series 2/3)

Last week we spent some time talking about the theological virtue of faith. As you might recall, faith is a belief in something hoped for.

Hope gives us rest along the way.

Picture this: you are driving to somewhere in Indianapolis. You set the address on your Smartphone GPS app, a soothing, robotic voice informs you that it will take approximately two and a half hours, and you exhale in peace. As you travel, you feel rather assured. You would rest knowing that you’ve set a course and will reach it.

Dominican Father Romanus Cessario calls the theological virtue of hope the “traveler’s” virtue. It’s a virtue for those of us still on the way. It helps us feel the comfort of peaceful rest in God in difficult moments.

The difference between our GPS example and the theological virtue of hope is that “hoping” in directions can never fully put us at ease. The battery might run out, the location pin might be a few—or many—blocks off, or the car itself may not make it.

True hope in God, though, will never disappoint.

Psalm 62 reads, “My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock… my fortress; I shall never fall.”

Here on earth, in this life, we will move toward God as we become more faithful to Christ and his Church. However, we will never “arrive” as fully one with God until after death. Hope helps us find rest here while striving daily to get there.

Father Cessario points out four characteristics of hope.

First, hope is futuristic, because we don’t hope for what we already possess. Second, hope is always about a good thing; we don’t “hope” for something bad. Third, hope is about what is difficult. Again, we don’t hope for things that we can just do. Fourth, hope is about something that is possible. When our football team loses its first 10 games, we don’t hope for a championship. Since our faith underlies our hope, as faith increases or decreases, so can hope.

The theological virtues are about helping us prepare and attain life with God after our time here. Hope is for our future good which, though not easy, is possible.

If hope is like a GPS, then God is the destination—a destination from which we will never want to travel again.

Originally published in the South Gibson Star Times