logo burning flame
homeBooksAuthorsTopicsLearnContact
logo burning flame
Wednesday of the eighth week after Pentecost

The test of Hope


Image for Divine Intimacy
Divine Intimacy

Fr. Gabriel

Presence of God

Give me, O Lord, invincible hope; teach me to hope against all hope, teach me to hope with all my strength.

Meditation

I. We prove the firmness of our faith by persevering in it in spite of its obscurity; we prove that our hope is strong by continuing to hope in spite of adversity and even when God seems to have abandoned us. As an act of faith made in the midst of darkness and doubts is more meritorious, so is it with the act of hope uttered in desolation and abandonment. The three theological virtues are the most appropriate and fitting means of uniting us to God; in fact, the purer, more intense, and supernatural are our faith, hope, and charity, the more closely they unite us to Him. To help us reach this point, God leads us through the crucible of trials. The story of Job is re-enacted in some way in the life of every soul dear to God; he was tried in his property, his children, his own person, deserted by his friends, and ridiculed by his wife. He who had been rich and esteemed, found himself alone on a dunghill, covered from head to foot with horrible sores. But if God is good, if it is true that He desires our good, why does He permit all this? Why does He let us suffer? "For God made not death," says Sacred Scripture, "neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living. ... It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death" (Sa. 1, 13-16). Death and suffering are the consequences of sin, which God has not prevented because He has willed to leave man free. And yet not only sinners suffer, but the innocent also. Why? Because God wishes to try them as gold is tried in the furnace, purifying them and raising them to a good, to a state of happiness immeasurably superior to the goods and the happiness of earth. Thus God permits the sufferings of the innocent, and even uses the consequences of sin—wars, disorders, social and personal injustices—for the greater good of His elect. It is often true, however, that when we are undergoing a trial we neither see nor understand the reason for it. God does not account for His actions nor does He reveal His plans to us; therefore, it is difficult to endure in faith and hope—difficult, but not impossible, for God never sends us trials which are beyond our strength, just as He never abandons us unless we first abandon Him.

II. The least act of hope, of trust in God, made in the midst of trials, in a state of interior or exterior desolation, is worth far more than a thousand acts made in times ofjoy and prosperity. When we are suffering in mind or body, when we are experiencing the void of abandonment and helplessness, when we find ourselves a prey to the repugnances and rebellions of nature which would like to throw off the yoke of the Lord, we cannot pretend to have the comforting feeling of hope, of confidence; often we may even experience the opposite sentiment, and yet, even in this state we can make acts of hope and of confidence which are not felt but willed. The theological virtues are practiced essentially by the will. When they are accompanied by feeling, the practice of them is pleasant and consoling; but when the act must be made by the will alone, then this exercise is dry and cold, but is not for this reason of less merit; on the contrary, it is even more meritorious and therefore gives more glory to God. We should not, therefore, be disturbed if we do not feel confidence; we must will to have confidence, will to hope, to hope at any cost, in spite of all the blows God may inflict on us by means oftrials. This is the moment to repeat with Job : "Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him" (Jo. 13, 15). We must not deceive ourselves, thinking we can go through these trials without having to fight against discouragement, against temptations to distrust, and perhaps even to despair; this is the reaction of nature which rebels against that which wounds it. The Lord knows our weakness; He does not condemn us, He pities us. These feelings do not offend God, provided we always try to react gently by making acts of confidence with our will. Every time a wave of discouragement tries to carry us away, we must react against it by anchoring ourselves in God by a simple movement of trust; even if our spiritual life should be reduced, for certain periods, to this exercise alone, we will not have lost anything, but we will have gained much. It is precisely by going through these trials that we reach the heroic practice of faith and hope; and the heroism of the virtues is necessary for the attainment ofsanctity.

Colloquy

"Save me, O God, for the waters have come in even unto my soul. I stick fast in the mire of the deep, and there is no sure standing. I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me. I have labored with crying; my jaws are become hoarse; my eyes have failed, whilst I hope in my God... But my prayer is to Thee, O Lord, for the time of Thy good pleasure. ... In the multitude of Thy mercy, hear me, in the truth of Thy salvation. Draw me out of the mire that I may not stick fast; deliver me from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Hear me, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind; look upon me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies. Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant. . . Save me, since Thou art my patience; O Lord, my hope, O Lord, from my youth.... I have always hoped in Thee.... O God be not Thou far from me, make haste to help me.... I suffer, but I will always hope, and will add to all Thy praise... What great troubles hast Thou shown me, many and grievous; and turning, Thou hast brought me back to life, and hast brought me back again from the depths of the earth. Thou hast multiplied Thy magnificence, and turning to me, Thou hast comforted me" (Ps. 68, 13-16 - Ps. 70, 15).

"O hope, sweet sister of faith, you are that virtue which with the keys of the Blood of Christ unlock eternal life to us. You guard the city of the soul against the enemy of confusion, and when the devil tries to cast the soul into despair by pointing out the seriousnessof its past sins, you do not slacken your pace, but full of energy, you persevere in fortitude, putting on the balance the price of Christ’s Blood. You place on the brow of perseverance the crown ofvictory, for you have hoped to obtain it by the power of His Blood" (St. Catherine of Siena).

Topics in this meditation:

Hope
Suggest a Topic

Enjoyed your reading? Share with a friend...

previous

The motive for Hope

Tuesday of the eighth week after Pentecost