As you know, I prefer to speak about the “act” of hope than the “virtue”. Because the “repetition of good acts” generates a “good habit”, a “Virtue”. Remember the muscle of the body-builder we have muscles in us (the faculties of the soul: mind, will, memory) that need to be activated in a correct way and direction: the Divine Blood (the Grace of God) is offered to our faculties and is waiting to be used through activating the muscle (the faculty).
Strengthening the virtue’s “muscle”
The muscle of hope is the mind (some say it is the “memory”). But I prefer to take an example in order to understand it better: hope is like hands (or arms) extended, waiting to receive something (the object of a promise). It is a desire, a motivation, a drive that moves us ahead.
“Hope” and “hopes”
“Hopes” are “normal hopes”, even the good ones, the good causes, the spiritual causes. “Hope” is the theological Act, never to be mixed with others, or worse: exchanged by others. “Hope” is vertical, it connects us directly with Jesus-God – this is why it is called: theological (Theos: God). “Hopes” connect us with something created. The difference is huge!
This is why we need to pass the comb, in order to see if the hairs of our desire are well orientated (toward the object of our hope) and in order (gathering properly all our energy).
Mind you, without hope/hopes we would never do anything. They are the driving force in our life. What makes us wake up in the morning and wanting to go through the day. We all have “hopes”, but do we have a “Hope”? We often put our heart in the hopes, but is all our heart in the only Hope?
How to do an act of Hope?
“Hope” is all related to a “Promise”. It is our reaction (what we will do) in front of the obtaining the object of the promise. We extend our hands, our arms, in order to receive the promised Gift.
Our hands could be already filled with other things instead; this is why it is important to check, regularly, our desire, our Hope, how we perform the act of desire (how we “aspire”). We all have semi-conscious hopes that motivate us, that constitute the drive, that make us move, try, do, start, create, realise (work, mission, family, money, career,…). Our heart gets filled by these semi-conscious hopes. But if we prepare ourselves to do an act of hope, through checking the state of our heart, his longing, his desires, his possessions, we become aware of these semi-conscious hopes.
We then focus our mind on “studying” (staring at length, deepening,…) the real Hope, the Real and only Promise made to us, the solid indestructible promise, the Anchor of our Life.
Then, gathering all the energies of our heart, we orientate it toward the real Hope, the vertical one.
The direct realistic consequence of the vertical Hope is for us: to do what we are supposed to do today, without thinking of tomorrow. Focusing on today as if today is the only day we have to live, and live it to the fullness. If we are still capable of thinking of tomorrow, it probably means that part of our energy is going horizontal and is not connecting us to the real and only Hope. We need to focus on today: what to do today, according to Jesus will, because this will bring us closer to Him, to the realisation of our Hope.
Like spiritual “adolescents”, we need everything (all of it), and now (today)… We would like to reach the top of the Mountain (Jesus’ Promise) today. This is “Dreamy Hope”. Not bad, we need to have big Hopes, real ones. But the energy we put in it should be as well converted into something solid, concrete: a real step ahead, today. Only the theological acts (the acts that connect us directly to God, to Jesus-God) are realistic, incarnate and real. The rest doesn’t break the surface of the Divine Seed, Life doesn’t come out of it to blossom. It remains imprisoned in it. Theological Hope, Holy Hope, points on our feet, showing the step to do today. If we want to climb the Mountain and be at the top of it, we need to start putting a foot in front of the other. Hope is practical! It looks paradoxical to say so because it seems that Hope puts our head high up above the Clouds. Yes, indeed it does that. But real Hope never forgets the earth and knows that in order to walk one has to keep his/her heart beyond the clouds (the veil), anchored in the Promise, and in the same time one has to keep his/her feet on earth, well grounded: by doing what we are supposed to do today.
Often we want to know what we will be doing tomorrow, or in 5 years, or 10. We want to know our vocation, our mission. But this literally sucks our sacred energy, the energy of our Heart, created only for God, for Jesus, and deprives it from the drive to do what we are supposed to do right now, regardless of what will happen tomorrow or in 10 years. This is why it is important to walk with our back upright, straight, connecting heaven and earth.
Hope vs Faith-Love
We can have Faith, we can have a little Love, but the forgotten little act, Hope, is the engine, the drive that pushes us ahead. Without hope the “car” of our spiritual life will be at halt. Very dangerous.
Hope is related to growth, climbing, transformation, sanctification.
If I don’t know my goal, how will I ever reach it?
Clarify your hope, your HOPE, the Holy Hope… not any hope, like the “hopes”, the cheap ones and the “expensive” ones. We have only one Theological Hope.
Do we know what tomorrow is made of? Do we know if our heart will continue to beat within three minutes? Can we change a hair from black to white? No. So why putting our energy in uncertainty.
The one who promised is faithful and trustworthy and realises His Promises.
Now, what is the Promise to which Hope is attached to? What is the Promise that constitutes our Hope? Where do we find that Promise in the Gospel?
We need the help of the Holy Spirit in order to become able to see deep in Jesus on the Cross, and find out that, deeply, He is embracing me on the Cross, He united me to Himself on the Cross. This is His plan, this is what He wants to realise on earth. This is His Promise. “heaven” is not a state, it is not a place, it is a degree of transformation in Jesus. Sanctification, divinisation.
Jesus holding each one of us
(Cross made in El Salvador)
On the Cross He realises from His part that transformation, and He is offering it to me, as the Project of my life. This is His Solid Promise to me. Do I see that?
This is the goal of my life, this is what I am waiting for, here on earth. It is not a Promise for “after-death”, no, it is here on earth. The Saints shout it very loudly. Will I bank all my life on that? Hummm, this is the real theological challenge.
We live our lives with no theological dimension, it is flat. Full of good intentions, beautiful things, but where is Jesus Promise on the Cross? “And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20) This text, should be heard this way: said by Jesus on the Cross, in the present tense! This is the object of our hope.
hopes, joys, fears
Hopes generate in us false joy and false fear. Joy of possessing or about to posses horizontal things, and fear of not possessing goods or possessing bad things. Vertical Hope, offers a pure hope, and fills our heart with it, protecting our heart from being harmed by false joys or fears. Detached, free, belonging to Jesus.
When we look at the Cross, by the Grace of God, we should be able to see Jesus embracing us tightly; this is our Anchor. We already see it. We then can walk toward it, closer and closer until we reach with St Paul this Song: “it is not me who live, it is Jesus who lives in me”.
Reading about Hope
In the third book of the Ascent of Mount Carmel, first part of it, saint John of the Cross explains how to do a pure act of Hope.
Examining our hope
It is so important to pass the comb, to check if our hands are full of possessions, and get rid of them, by simply gathering all our attention to the Cross, seeing His Promise, and gathering all the Energy of our heart, in order to desire this Promise, be attached to it, hooked to it, and then searching His Will today, in order to know were to put our foot, in order to do today’s step.
A Parable on the conditions of Hope
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ […] 33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:28-33)
Now this parable has various aspects. First it speaks about the object of Hope: the Tower to build. But it takes it’s existence and the knowledge of it for granted, which is not the object of this post. In this post, I do consider that the majority do not know the Vertical Tower…
But, having crossed that bridge, you see the Lord’s advice: take time, ponder, in order to do the act of Hope correctly. Imagine you say: “yes, the goal of my life is to become holy”, or “my aim is to reach the Union with Jesus”, do you think that we really take the means of our hope? Do you really build correctly our hope? Do we really do one step at a time everyday, in the journey of transformation? Are we re-adjusting everyday ourselves to Jesus’ Will? Is our Heart really totally attached to this hope? Is all our energy there?
The condition of “Hope” is “renouncing all” as Jesus states it. Would this mean that we all have to leave this life, and take the cloth and hide in the Desert? Or course not, “renouncing” is first and foremost the matter of the will and the desire. Many are in the Desert and their will is still holding on to possessions… of all sorts… possessing them really, or hoping to possess them.
Even health is a possession. See how St Theresa of Avila (in the Way of Perfection) says that one has to be fiercely detached from worries for his own health in order to put the Lord first and serve Him, and drop these silly fears about health. Of course, many persons wouldn’t have that courage!
Hope is serious
Do you think that wanting the Holy Hope to be fulfilled is a light decision/enterprise? No. This is why Jesus’ advice is, before pretending to embark in the Christian Journey to: “first sit down and count the cost”.
Hope is the engine in your Christian Car. This is what makes it move…
Hope is about receiving something here on earth, and not only after death. Jesus said it: “I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:27). For some people this verse speaks a lot… ” “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8: 8)… the Call…
The act of Hope gives us Energy
“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who hopes in the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiha 40,29-31)
My hope, and the others
Every time I do an act of hope, every time I reconnect with Jesus the Groom, who promised He will unite to me during this life, every time I search for His Will for today, and put it into practise, and do receive a share of that big Hope, by doing one step ahead, in the climbing of the Mountain of the Lord, every time I do that all humanity does one step ahead. The act of Hope is not an egoistical selfish behaviour. We all belong to one same Body, we are all connected, deeply, so if I do progress, all humanity progresses with me, and this is what matters. Each act of Hope you do, sends waves of Living Waters (or Living Blood) across the whole Body…
The Mother of our Hope
Mary is the mother of Our Hope, she is the one that keeps it and preserves it pure for us. We can say about her what is said about Abraham, and much more: “No distrust made him waver concerning the Promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had Promised.” (Romans 4:20-21) She is the one who hoped for the Messiah, the only one who was able to believe the words said by the Angel (Zachariah didn’t) and receive Him. She is the only one who believed in the Jesus’ Promise that He will rise again and waited for the Lord to Rise.
Mary, obtain for us the Grace of the correct and pure attitude for Vertical Hope… Pray for us… and teach us how to put it into practice everyday in order to get, day after day, closer to the Realisation of the Promise.
Of course this topic (Hope) goes with the “Spiritual Journey” topic because the latter shows not only the goal but the way as well: the full length of the journey, it’s shape. So please, in order to strengthen your Hope, do not hesitate to read the explanation of the 11 diagrams of the spiritual journey. Spiritual journey and Goal (the Promise) are not separable.
Take time, every day to revise your “hopes”, the mechanisms of your hopes, you semi-conscious acts. Take time to put all your energy in one Hope.. the one that is sure, solid, Eternal. This time is called as we: Prayer. Meet Jesus who Promised and won’t fail to fulfil His Promise. Take time to See Him holding you already on the Cross, take time to entrust your energy and Hope in the Hands of Mary.