BLEVINS: Relying on Christ and the gift of hope

March 12, 2019

Most of us are familiar with the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith and charity seem to always get top billing, so many of us are not as familiar with “hope.”

“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. (CCC # 1817) With all the struggles of our world and in the Catholic Church right now, hope is what we need, now more than ever.

When I was widowed, raising four small children on my own with no family, a friend gave me a verse to pray from the book of the prophet Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” The St. Louis Jesuits wrote a song based on this Scripture that can be found in their album “Steadfast Love.”

I listened tearfully to that song each day and realized there was going to be light at the end of the dark tunnel that I traveled because I was assured that I was precious and loved by God and His plans for me were those of hope if I only but prayed and asked Him. I just listened once more to that song while I was writing this article and discovered that now, after many years later, I smiled at its words, confirming that it was that hope that got me through it all.

The Church has gone through many difficulties and challenges in the past 2000-plus years. Anyone that studies Church history knows that there were many dark times. But this virtue of hope promises that, if we rely on Christ and not on ourselves through the help and grace of the Holy Spirit, we will persevere. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is active in the Church or else she would not be here in 2019! That same Holy Spirit can do the same for each one of us if we only have hope.

“The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment… Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.” (CCC # 1818)

Through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his passion, God keeps us in the hope that does not disappoint. As we enter into this Lenten season, reflect often on the virtue of hope for “it is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul… that enters… where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” (Heb 6:19-20) I Thessalonians 5:8 directs us to “…put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

There are so many beautiful Scripture passages on hope. This Lent Google some of those hopeful passages, contemplate on them and pray for this virtue to be realized in you and in our Church.

Loyola Press has published a prayer on hope that would be a wonderful way to end your scriptural reflections on this virtue:
Heavenly Father, I am your humble servant, I come before You today in need of hope. I need hope for a calm and joyful future. I need hope for love and kindness.
I pray for peace and safety. Some say that the sky is at its darkest just before the light. I pray that this is true, for today seems stormy and dim.
I need Your light, Lord, in every way.
I pray to be filled with Your light.
Help me to walk in Your light, and live my life in faith and service. In your name I pray, Amen.

Wishing you all a Lenten season full of hope that leads to its realization in the resurrection of Easter Sunday! †

Julie Blevins is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.