Cultivating hope PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 February 2016 13:45

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Hope is a supernatural gift from God that, together with faith and charity, would enable us to live our life always together with God, no matter how erratic the going is in our earthly journey.

That’s simply because our life is supposed to be always a life with God, and not just our own life exclusively.

Given our earthly condition, hope is what keeps us moving, pursuing a goal that is made clear by our faith. It gives us a sense of direction. It provides us with some spiritual GPS that monitors the state of a current position in our spiritual life, and traces for us the alternative routes we can take to reach our supernatural destination.

It also gives us the skills to tackle all possible spiritual scenarios in our earthly pilgrimage, whether we get stuck in traffic, or suffer a flat tire and engine trouble, or have gotten lost, or have made a wrong turn, or have gotten into some difficulties and dead-ends.

Hope would give us reason and meaning to every event that can take place in our life, whether it is a good one or a bad one, a success or a loss. It would spur us to move on, irrespective of whatever mistake, failure, setback we may suffer along the way.

Obviously, for this supernatural gift to take root in us and to become fruitful, we have to cultivate it into something immediately felt and operational. It should not just be theory, a doctrine of our faith, an abstract idea. We should be able to see its lights and feel its impulses.

To cultivate this virtue of hope, we need to sharpen our supernatural outlook toward our life, nourishing it with constant acts of faith, so we would know where we should be heading in life. More than that, cultivating hope can mean that we are in step with God’s abiding and all-wise providence that knows what to do with any event in life.

We have to be wary of our tendency to get hijacked by earthly concerns. While it’s true that we cannot avoid these mundane concerns and affairs, and in fact we should be actively involved in them, it does not mean that our immersion in these things should detain us in them and blind us to our true ultimate destination.

The virtue of hope does not take our earthly and temporal affairs lightly. It, in fact, pushes us to be intimately involved in them. That’s because, just like what God told Adam and Eve at their creation, we are supposed to multiply and dominate or subdue the earth. (cfr. Gen 1,28)

But hope would tell us that these earthly concerns and temporal affairs are at best only means and occasions to get to our final end that goes beyond time and space. They are not supposed to detain us, as if they are where we ought to be in our definitive state. As the Letter to the Hebrews would remind us: “Here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (13,14)

Thus, we need to exercise a certain detachment from these earthly concerns and temporal affairs. Though they are important and unavoidable, they should not be allowed to grab all our attention at  the expense of the devotion due to God.

A certain level of temperance on our part is always needed. Especially these days, when we are confronted with riveting issues and very fascinating if absorbing new technologies, we have to see to it that we do not lose our spiritual bearing and that we can still manage to move forward to our ultimate goal.

They should not, for example, be a hindrance to our prayers and to our spiritual duties toward God and neighbor. If anything at all, they should be converted to a means of fostering our relation with God and others, and thus, enhance our hope. With the proper attitude and formation, we can actually manage to make them even as some form of prayer and offering to God and others.

As can be seen by now, this virtue of hope is never a passive virtue. It demands a lot of action, a lot of will-power to move on. It requires continuing ascetical struggle, a deepening and enriching of our relationship with God and with others.

It requires that our prayer be a real conversation with God and a direct contact with the issues and the signs of the times.

It cannot prosper when our prayer is just some formalistic exercise.