A sharing by Ann Voskamp (filmed by her daughter, Hope-Girl) on Hope, the greatest gift.
A sharing by Ann Voskamp (filmed by her daughter, Hope-Girl) on Hope, the greatest gift.
Simon’s heart was racing from effort and emotion, and he gasped for breath as he made his way through the fish to where Jesus was sitting in the stern. Simon approached this man whose presence had become almost unbearable: they were too different, too distant, too “other.” And yet it seemed to him that this presence was such an absolute gift to him that only Jesus could reestablish the correct distance between them.
Simon was overtaken by a sense of unworthiness: everything in his life that was petty, false, angry, silly, greedy proud, vile had now become a heavy, nauseating heap.
He was surprised himself by what he cried out in front of everyone: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5.8). And he knew that no truer words had ever come from his lips.
Even so, just as his words were disappearing into the noise of the water, the wind, the boat, Simon understood that these words, too, were false. They were no longer true before that face, before the expression of Jesus, who continued to stare at him in silence. The words were true inside of Peter himself, in his heart, in his humanity, but they were no longer true before Jesus. He had not yet finished saying, “Depart from me, Lord,” when his heart began crying in desolation, “No! Stay with me, Lord! Take me with you!”
~Dom Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist.
Pope Francis on hope:
During his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of hope, saying that it is not optimism but rather “an eager expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God.” The Holy Father drew his words from the first reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
The Pope emphasized that hope does not disappoint, it is secure. However, the Holy Father clarified to have hope does not meant to be optimistic. “Hope is not an optimism, it is not the capacity to see things with a good spirit and go forward. No, that is optimism, it is not hope. Nor is hope a positive attitude in front of things,” the Pope said. “This is good! But it is not hope.”
“It is not easy to understand what is hope. It is said that it is the most humble of the three virtues, because it is hidden in life. Faith is seen, is felt, it is known what it is. Charity can be one, it is known what it is. But what is hope? What is this attitude of hope? To approach this a bit, we can say firstly that hope is a risk, it is a risky virtue, it is a virtue, as Saint Paul says, ‘of an eager expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God.’ It is not an illusion.”
Pope Francis went on to explain that the early Christians depicted hope as an anchor that is fixed on the shore of the afterlife. The goal of a Christian is to walk towards this anchor. The Holy Father then asked those present to contemplate on where are they anchored in there own lives.
“Are we anchored just beyond the shore of that ocean far away or are we anchored in an artificial lagoon, that we have made ourselves, with our rules, our behaviors, our schedules, our clericalism, our ecclesiastical attitudes, not ecclesial? Are we anchored there? All comfortable, all secure That is not hope.”
Another image of this hope the Holy Father said that St. Paul indicates is that of going into labor. Hope, he stressed, is within this “dynamic of giving life.” The fruits of this labor, however, are unseen. The Holy Father compared this image of St. Paul to the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“I think of Mary, a young girl, when after hearing that she was a mother, her attitude changes and she goes, she helps and sings that hymn of praise,” the Pope said.
“When a woman becomes pregnant, she is a woman, but she is never (only) just a woman: she is a mother. And hope is something like this. It changes our attitude: it is us, but we are not ourselves; it is us, looking over there, anchored over there.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis addressed a group of Mexican priests who were present at the Mass celebrating their 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. “Ask Our Lady, Mother of hope, that your years be years of hope, to live as priests of hope,” he said to them.
This is today’s post from Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction, and I just thought it was so apt for this blog. (If you haven’t discovered Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction yet, take some time to go over there and browse!)
SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 BY MARY KAUFMANN
Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and incurring punishment (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2090)
Is the virtue of hope like a Christmas gift or divine blessing available to us every day? It can be. But, do you believe this statement from the Catechism even when you are not faithful to God or you blow it in loving others? Maybe you got snagged by something seemingly urgent and skipped your prayer time or snapped at your kids. You know yourself. Aren’t these the times when we feel less desirable to God, like we might have lost our spiritual luster and his favor? What do you do when you recognize your faults? Do you avoid God, like you do when someone has offended you or do you run to him? The theological virtue of hope, rather than just a set of habits, is a vital energy for the Christian walk. It gives us power to know God personally and to trust him more. When we open ourselves to receive and operate with hope, we let God be God in our lives and find that, rather than being repelled by our weaknesses, God is attracted to us, even when we, ourselves, feel least deserving of his gaze. Rather than ascribing human characteristics to God, the virtue of hope allows us to have an unflappable confidence in God… and not in ourselves.
Servant of God, Archbishop Luis Martinez, Venerable Concepción Cabrera’s last spiritual director, echoes this with: “Your lowliness, not your virtue, attracts God.” While he is not suggesting that we sin in order to attract God, he does suggest a reaction to our own sin that is counter intuitive to us on the human level. When we receive and act with hope, we can experience both contrition for our sins and confidence in God’s love for us at the same time. Martinez elaborates, “We must learn to cast ourselves into the arms of our Savior with our heart torn to pieces…because we feel pain at having offended Him, but we confide in Him because He loves us.” Hope allows us to please our sensitive Savior, because hope gives us the capacity to be available to God when and where he most wants to gift us. Hope helps us receive vital remedies for our hearts from the very heart of God. It anchors us to the very places where the living presence of God wants to meet us. Let us be like ordinary shepherds tending their sheep, but following a luminous star of light, to meet Jesus. What miracles await us when we respond in hope?
In her spiritual classic, Of the Virtues and of the Vices, Venerable Concepción Cabrera (“Conchita”) describes this supernatural gift or virtue of hope as Jesus in action, as “a Star that exists from all eternity that can illuminate the world with the purest experience of the Gospel.” What is this pure experience of the Gospel but a repeat living encounter with Love that reorders us and loves us where we need it the most. The hopeful Christian can approach Jesus openly at every Mass and experience, as Conchita shared that, “The soul that possess this hope, rejoices in it, not for its own good but for the glory to God that it allows.” Hope helps the Christian struggling with the ordinary details of life to center and re-center their lives in God’s love so they can reflect God’s redeeming light to others. Hopeful people are more than just optimistic people. They are people focused with Gospel priorities that nothing ultimately sidetracks, including their own screw-ups. According to Conchita, “When they have hope, they seek after, not the goods of the earth, neither good name, riches nor honor. They set their looks higher and hope for the possession of God himself. This Hope exists on the altars and in each moment [is] waiting for us” reaching out to touch our human wounds. Let us be bold then in naming our sins and setting our sights upon the one crucified out of love for us
Conchita had her hopes set higher. During her daily prayer for several weeks, she heard the gentle words of Christ like a clear whisper in her heart, words meant for all of us to instill hope and faith in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. She collated these dialogues with Jesus into I Am: Eucharistic Meditations on the Gospel, which have been reviewed and approved by the Church. While meditating on John 10:25, the Lord told her and us, “But you, if you follow Me, come to look for Me in the Eucharist, tell Me that you belong to Me, that you want to listen to my teachings, that you believe in the mysteries of My Divinity, even though you do not understand them, that all My works witness to you of the love of your magnanimous God who takes pleasure in man’s conversion. Blessed faith and hope makes saints! Open your heart before me because I want to possess it and teach you to look at everything in the light of faith, hope and love.” Let us follow that star of light, Jesus, and become hope-filled saints who arecontrite and confident in God’s love for us!
“Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils, but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be accepted as elements of a full human existence . . . As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospel . . If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. ”Blessed be the name of the Lord!’” (Avery Dulles, S.J., 39th McGinley Lecture, April 1, 2008.)
Another person I want to be like when I grow up. (If you’ve seen this before, it’s worth a re-look.) This will give you hope, especially if you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.
You can find more about him here.
From Contemplative Provocations, Fr. Donald Haggerty:
“In some lives, loving God may entail over time a shipwrecked manner of loving–cold and tired and holding on, clinging to broken wood, swept along currents they cannot master, yet knowing always that they cannot drown.”
Michael W. Smith
Sometimes the journey makes you weary
Feels like a long and winding road
Sometimes this life can lose its meaning
But you might be surprised to find some hope
Maybe you’re wondering where love is
You may feel it’s far away from here
Maybe you’re wondering where I am
You might be surprised to find I’m near
And when your life is tossed and turning
And you’re on the raging sea
I’ll come and pull you from the water
Then you will know that you are free
So if you’re stumbling through the valley
Or if you’re tempted to give up the fight
Reach out your hand and I will lead you
I will be your strong arm in the night