The Supernatural Virtue of Hope

Hope. What is hope and how can it change me or change the world around me?

Hope is a supernatural virtue in which we desire and await eternal life that God has promised to those who serve Him.

One of the most hopeful things that we can ever know is that this earth is something temporary and it is not our definitive home. Here on earth, we are surrounded by injustices that make us angry or even suffer, we are surrounded by violence, suffering and sickness. But, hope is here to remind us that glories that await us in heaven are nothing in comparison to what we suffer here on earth. In fact, it is hope that sustains us and alleviates our crosses and sufferings, especially in those moments where we are tired and it seems impossible to keep going, and when we feel that we have no strength left.

Okay, this may sound all nice, but is the virtue of hope even reasonable or is it naive to have hope in such big things? Hope is completely reasonable and coherent because what we hope for is simply the good that God has promised us. God is faithful and
trustworthy. Hope is not just some silly optimism to trick us into living longer with a “purpose.” It is not superficial but something real. Hope is a supernatural virtue and will become firm, serene, and complete when it is based on faith.

The Church teaches that our hope in the salvation of our souls should be firm because God does not take back his grace, not even from the worst sinners. God is always holding out His hand to us, but it is up to us to reach out and grab it. Hope resides in the will because we have to do our part to respond, to cooperate with God’s saving grace.

Supernatural hope sustains the Christian amidst the obstacles encountered in the attainment of salvation and perfection. The object of this virtue is eternal life and the means of reaching that life. Hope is firm and unshakable because it is founded on the power and goodness of God.

Hope has three main elements: Love and desire of supernatural good (our happiness which is God), God’s help and our effort. We love God as the source of our happiness. Because of the difficulty in obtaining God, we experience fear of failing to attain Him. To overcome this fear, we need the well-founded expectation of obtaining Him. This expectation is not based on our own strength, but upon God and His all-powerful help. We expect from Him all the necessary graces to obtain perfection in this life and salvation in the next. Grace demands cooperation. It is an earnest effort to tend towards God and make use of the means of salvation placed at our disposal. This effort must be all the more determined and steadfast the higher the object of our hope.

Hope unites us to God by detaching us from earthly goods. A hope based on a lively faith shows us that earthly joys lack two elements: perfection and permanence. It is through hope that we see God stooping down in order to give Himself to us. Once we have
understood this, our hearts break away from the things of this earth to move towards Him. Only God is permanent, He abides forever.
It would be obvious that the evil one wants us to sin against this virtue because if he succeeds, we take away our gaze from heaven, we distrust the goodness and power of God’s mercy and grace. When we fail or we only see our miseries, it is easy to lose hope.

But, when we keep our eyes elevated to God, towards heaven, and place all our faith in Him, hope will reach its fullness in us and we will reach our celestial home.