Presence of God
Sustain my hope in Thee, O Lord, so that it may be without measure.
I. St. Thomas teaches us that "man can never love God as much as He should be loved; neither can he believe and hope in Him as much as he ought" (Ia IIae, q.64, a.4, co.). That is why we can say that the measure of hope in God is to hope without measure. Our hope, our confidence in God can never be excessive or exaggerated, because it is founded on God’s mercy which has no limits. Ifwe sincerely try to do everything we can to please God, we need not fear that our hope in Him can be too great. His helpful power and His desire for our good, for our sanctification, infinitely exceed our most ardent hopes. This blind, unlimited hope is so pleasing to God that the more hope we have, the more He overwhelms us with favors : "The more the soul hopes, the more it attains" (J.C. AS III, 7,2). St. Therese of the Child Jesus, making this thought her own said : "We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for" (St, 12).
The more wretched, weak, and powerless we find ourselves, the more we should hope in God. If we cannot, and should not, expect to reach sanctity by our own power, we should hope to reach it through the strength of Him who is omnipotent, through the infinite mercy of Him who loves to bend over souls aware of their frailty, who loves, as our Blessed Lady said, "to exalt the humble and to fill the hungry with good things" (cf. Lc. 1, 52-53). The knowledge of our weakness ought to make us keenly aware of our need for God; indeed, our weakness itself ought to be an incessant cry, begging with complete confidence for His all-powerful aid. The more our soul expands with hope and trust in God, the wider it will open to His sanctifying action. God’s mercy is waiting to come to us, to purify and sanctify us, but it will not come until we open the doors of our heart by an act of complete confidence.
II. A soul that endeavors to apply itself with all the strength of its will to the practice of the virtues and the fulfillment of every duty, a soul that is determined to refuse nothing to Our Lord, should strive to maintain itself in an attitude of total trust in Him, in spite of inevitable falls. Yes, we should have complete confidence that God will come to sanctify us, regardless of our past faults, our present miseries, the aridity of our soul, the repugnances of nature, or the state of weariness and depression in which we may find ourselves.
God loves us, not because we are without sin, but because we are His children, in whom He has diffused His grace. We should never insult God by refusing to believe in His forgiveness; neither should we become discouraged because of the faults which escape us in spite of our good will. If we become discouraged, it is because we are seeking perfection not for God’s glory alone, but for our own satisfaction as well, and also because we would prefer to find security in ourselves rather than to rely upon God alone. All this, in reality, is the result of a subtle pride. Instead of becoming disturbed and irritated by our imperfections, we must acknowledge them humbly, present them to God as a sick man shows his wounds to his doctor, ask pardon, and then immediately renew our efforts with great confidence. We must learn to make use of our miseries and failings to plead our cause, to show God how much we need His help, and to increase our confidence in Him. Hope in God is the great anchor of salvation for our poor soul, tossed by the billows of human frailty. With this in mind, St. Paul exhorts us to advance "according to the power of God, who hath delivered us and called us by His holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in ChristJesus" (2 Tm 1,8.9). Far from concluding that our good works are useless, Christian hope calls for the greatest diligence in doing good and fleeing from evil; but then it carries us far beyond our poor works into the arms of God and His infinite mercy.
" O Jesus, how can a soul as imperfect as mine aspire to possess the plenitude of love? O Jesus, my first, my only Fi'iend, You whom I love solely, tell me, then, what mystery is this? Why do You not reserve these infinite longings for lofty souls, for the eagles that soar in the heights?. . . I see myself as a feeble little bird with only a light down to cover me; I am not an eagle, yet I have an eagle’s eyes and an eagle’s heart; for, notwithstanding my extreme littleness, I dare to gaze on the divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and I burn to fly to You, resplendent Sun, who attract my gaze. I would imitate the eagles I see soaring to the divine home of the Most Blessed Trinity...but alas, I can only flutter my little wings; it is beyond my feeble power to soar.
"What then, is to become of me? Must I die ofsorrow because of my helplessness? Oh, no! I will not even grieve. With daring confidence, I shall remain here, gazing on my divine Sun. Nothing can frighten me, neither wind nor rain; and should impenetrable clouds come to conceal you from my eyes, O Jesus, I shall not change my place, knowing that beyond the dark clouds Your love shines always and that its splendor cannot be eclipsed for a single moment. Sometimes, it is true, my heart will be assailed by the tempest and I may feel as if I believe that beyond this life there is only the darkness which envelops me. This would be the hour of perfect joy. . .what happiness to remain here at all costs, to fix my gaze on the invisible Light which hides itself to my faith.
"Yet should You remain deaf to my plaintive cries, if You still veil Yourself. . .well then, I am content to remain benumbed with cold, and so I rejoice in such well-merited suffering.
"O Jesus, how sweet is the way of love. True, one may fall and be unfaithful to grace, but love knows how to draw profit from everything, and quickly consumes whatever may be displeasing to You, leaving in the heart only a deep and humble peace" (T.C.J. St, 13-8 - L).
Topics in this meditation:Hope
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