Hope is a ‘theological virtue’ and the anchor of our faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us about the theological virtues, including that of hope.
“The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church para.1813)
And so hope has several functions – it is the basis of our moral life and the spirit which infuses it by the grace of God, enabling us to act as the children of God, promising the indwelling and action of the Holy Spirit. It is also the particular virtue by which we aspire to eternal life in the Kingdom of God, sustaining us and encouraging us to persevere to the end. We express that sense of hope every time we pray the Our Father.
Our hope is rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ, both collectively – in the Church, which prays for the salvation of all – and also personally, through our faith in Him. Pope Benedict, speaking through Cardinal Bertone, once said – “The Risen Christ is the ‘ultimate and definitive foundation of existence, the certainty of our hope'”.
In the devotion to Jesus as Divine Mercy, this sense of hope is prominent. The Merciful Lord is the Risen Christ of Whom Pope Benedict spoke.
In her Diary, Saint Faustina tells us – “O my God, my only hope, I have placed all my trust in You, and I know I shall not be disappointed”. It is perhaps expressed most clearly and most powerfully in the words inscribed on the Divine Mercy Image – ‘Jesus, I trust in You’.
This sense of trust in the Merciful Jesus is what the Lord desires from us – the belief that our Christian hope will not flounder, that one day we will be with Christ forever in Heaven. Of course, it is easy to have hope when things are going well – a little less so when things are not so good in our lives. And it is precisely at those times that we need to hold fast to our hope in the Lord – He is that anchor which is so often used in imagery to represent this virtue of hope.
Hope sustains us in the battles of life – and as Christians, we are mindful that the Lord counsels us that if we wish to follow Him, then we must take up our crosses, just as He did. Hope will support us as we do so.