Sunday, June 29, 2014

Living in the Virtue of Hope

Aunt flow came two days after I published my last post so I guess that settled that for that cycle. Sorry it has taken me so long to post about it if some of you were on pins and needles waiting to hear if there was any news. We were on vacation/pilgrimage last week in Alabama and I had no time to write up a post before we left, it was a crazy busy time.

 When I told JJ AF came he profusely apologized for getting my hopes up but I cut him off mid-sentence (one of the few times I though it was ok to) because I loved getting my hopes up. It actually felt less disappointing and less sad to me to have had hope than to have been my usual cynical self. I think this is because like the scripture says "hope does not disappoint," situations disappoint us not hope. I have been at this infertility thing for over 5 years and something I've learned is that hope is required for the long haul. Seeing that we have been married for 6 1/2 years without children here on earth can definitely be discouraging at times but we are called to live in hope. 

Hope is a theological virtue it takes the act of the will and grace to have it. Hope is not just a feeling like love is not just a feeling it is an action because it engages our entire self of intellect, will and emotion. It is an active virtue and I am learning how to excercise it slowly like a muscle. It is painful and sore at times but it's a good kind of pain that comes with growth. 

A friend commented on my last post that she had a hard time with hope, faith was easier* for her to grasp than hope. I couldn't agree more! Hope is harder to grasp for me, faith is easier* because I know how powerful God is so I have faith. Love is easier* because we have the highest example of sacrificial love in Jesus. Now hope on the other hand is mysterious. Some people think it is just like faith but it is not, it's tied in with faith a lot but, they are not the same. I know I've also gotten hope confused with wishful thinking but again, they are not the same. I have a feeling that the virtue of hope is tied in with the Holy Spirit because the HS is such a mystery. Although because of Jesus' death and resurrection we have a reason for hope. Ahh, don't you just love the mysteries of the Church and the Trinity?! 

"Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."** Hmmm but what about hoping for things here on earth, is that part of the virtue? Is it more virtue or wishful thinking when we have humanly desires such as relationships or children? If it takes the act of the will to actively hope how does that work when those things we desire may never be fulfilled? Great questions, huh?! 

These questions have sent me into some reflection and meditation especially since I have been recently challenged in this area. When you suffer in some way or another it becomes very difficult to hope that the particular suffering will ever be removed especially if you have been dealing with it for years. There sometimes would seem to be no end in sight and daring to hope feels like it isn't an option anymore. Like I mentioned in my previous post, it's not just about having faith or praying harder. There is something more to this hope business...

Well this is what the Church says: "hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity." **

While I was on vacation at the Shirne, which feels so much like home when I am there, I had the privilege of sharing the car JJ and I rented with the two priests that went with us. We shuttled them around from place to place and it was such a blessing to be in the presence of these holy men. I asked one of them who had recently given a homily on the theological virtues and their correlation to the Holy Trinity. I had my opportunity to ask him which member of the Holy Trinity would be most correlated with  hope. He proceeded to tell me that Jesus Christ, God the Son would be most closely linked with hope because of the redemption He brings through His death and resurrection. Love or Charity would be most associated with the Holy Spirit because of the grace and action it takes to live out our faith and hope. Jesus' sacrifice opened the gates of heaven for us so our hope or our main goal is heaven. This may be common sense to some but this was a new way for me to go deeper into the mystery of hope. 

My hope is not dependent on having things my way or in my time, my hope is for good things and the ultimate Good is God. Now whether or not I get the good things I desire like biological and adoptive children (oh yes because I want both!) I can have confidence that I will have good things whether that be here on earth or heaven, which I hope I get to some day. The desire and hope for biological and adoptive children is ultimately increasing my desire and hope for God and heaven. It takes work though because I can easily become selfish in this yearning and turn toward self pity instead of charity. The more I put my hope in Jesus the more He purifies my desires which in turn works on the virtue of charity in me.

There have been so many scenarios recently that give us hope for children, especially what happened to us while we were in Alabama which I will explain in another post. For now I pray we will all excercise our virtue of hope by the grace of God.  

*By easier I don't mean that it is actively easier to do I just mean the concept is more easily grasped. 

**CCC 1817 and 1818


  1. I agree with so many points, but I think what I loved the most was at the beginning: "situations disappoint us, not hope." LOVE it!

  2. So glad to hear that your time in Alabama was good and fruitful!

  3. Hope is soo many things. Glad you had a great time in Alabama.

  4. This is beautiful Kat. I've struggled for a long time now to explain what it is about hope and this really gets at the heart of it, thank you.
    The months where I really hope, where I allow myself to dream and plan, yes, they are the months where the tears are often the worst at the end, but those times of hope are what keep me going, keep me from giving up, keep me seeking faith and Him. Because, even when the situation disappoints, I am reminded that Who I ultimately hope in will never disappoint, that He is here and with me and loves me. Yes, I forget that in moments of sorrow and self-pity, but ultimately, that is what pulls me out of those moments, and it is the moments of unbridled hope that teach me how to keep going.
    Looking forward to reading more about your trip to Alabama.

  5. I do believe hope keeps me going as well.....God does provide me hope...when I start feeling down..something comes along or happens that helps me to be hopeful again. Hope is positive thinking....I know I need to be more positive in my life. Thanks for sharing this reflection.

  6. Beautifully written, thank you for sharing :)

  7. it is so scary to hope sometimes. Even though I know hope is one of the theological virtues, and virtues are something we have to cultivate and exercise, I never really thought of hope in that way. I really like this reflection, it reminds me that as a virtue hope is something that I can't just give up on. I'm so glad you were able to go on vacation/pilgrimage to Alabama. We've never been there, but would love to someday. God blee.

  8. Great post, Kat! And so happy to hear you had a fruitful time in Alabama. :)