Faith and Hope
1. A man without the light of faith is like a blind man groping in the dark. The world which surrounds us is an inconceivable absurdity unless we have faith in a God who creates and orders. Life is an aimless journey if it is not illuminated by faith in a Creator Who will reward us. Everything without us and within us speaks to us of God and directs our steps towards Him, our supreme benefactor, our judge, and our eternal reward. The stars of the heavens and the flowers of the fields tell us of the infinite beauty and goodness of their Creator. In the pages of the Gospel we find a clearer and more penetrating light which invites us to adore and love the divine Redeemer and to believe in Him, Who alone has the words of eternal life and Who alone can satisfy the infinite desires of our hearts.
All this is true. Everything around us and within us leads us to God and invites us to have faith. The virtue of faith, however, is a supernatural gift which we must humbly and perseveringly beg from God. It is, as St. Thomas says, the foundation of the entire spiritual life (Summa Theologiae, III, q. 73, a. 3); without it the spiritual edifice would collapse. How thankful, therefore, we should be to God for having been called to the faith and for having been born in the Catholic Church. There are so many other souls outside Her, who grope in the darkness longing for the truth. We should pray for them that they may reach the port of salvation and may be able to join with us in praising, loving, and serving our Lord Jesus Christ. We should also be well aware that, as pointed out by St. James, faith without good works is dead. (Cf. James 2:17-20) Even the devils believe, as St. Augustine observes (De Caritate, 10), but this does not help their salvation. Besides faith, the love of God and love of our neighbour are necessary. The result of this double charity should be a gradual increase in good works.
2. Christian hope derives from faith. When we believe in the infinitely good and merciful God Who was made man for us and who shed His Precious Blood for our salvation, we experience a great hope and a great confidence. No matter how numerous our sins and our defects, as long as we are sincerely repentant we should continue to hope for the forgiveness of God. Despair, which led Judas to commit suicide, should never be allowed to enter our minds. Like the penitent Magdalen, like the prodigal son, like the lost sheep, and like the good thief, let us trust in Jesus with faith, hope, and sorrow for our sins. Let us remember that He is infinitely good and merciful and ardently desires to pardon us. Together with this hope of God’s forgiveness, we should nurture the hope of gaining Heaven, which the Lord in His infinite goodness has promised not only to innocent souls but also to repentant sinners. In order that this hope may not be in vain, however, we should include in our repentance for our sins a firm purpose of amendment.
3. We should also have great confidence in the continual assistance which God offers us in the temptations, troubles, and trials of life. When we are strongly tempted, we should remember that God will not permit us to be tempted beyond our strength (Cf. 1 Cor. 10:13), and we should pray to Him for help. When pain torments us, when humiliations are hard to bear, when all is dark and we feel abandoned, let us trust in Him, Who is the way, the truth, and the life. He says to us, as He said to Peter floundering in the waves: “O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?” (Mt. 14:31) He is always ready to console and comfort us.
Let us remember that the more we hope for, the more we shall obtain.