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Viva Hope!

These past months have been very difficult for me.  Life has thrown me many curve balls. However, the biggest challenge hasn't been the actual challenges themselves, but the temptation to despair.

Despair corrodes the soul.  St. Faustina wrote, "The greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and worry."  Why does despair ruin the soul? The answer is because despair is the antithesis of hope.

Love is the greatest of the virtues in Christianity, followed by faith and hope. But love can't grow without the foundation of hope and hope can't grow without faith. All three of the virtues build on one another. Hope in the simplest sense is the virtue in which a person trusts, through faith in the providence of God.

So if a person is bogged down by despair, fear, or worry then the capacity for love is severely diminished since love needs to be a free act performed by a person who has hope.  Jacques Philippe in his book Interior Freedom writes about this dynamic;

"When the will is weak, we must represent the object so that it again is seen as accessible.  Hope is the virtue that effects. Through hope, we know we can confidently expect everything from God."

So how can one cultivate hope on a daily basis?  By making concrete acts of hope as Jacques Philippe writes again,

"....hope is a choice that often demands an effort.  It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid.  Hope means trusting. When we hope we are not passive; we are acting."
It is very important to remember in times of fear, and worry to realize that God is in control of the situation and that he loves us unconditionally.  Hoping in God is the perfect antidote for despair. The more a person hopes the less he despairs. Some of the greatest figures in Christianity were severely flawed human beings.  The difference between them and the ones who weren't great was the fact that they were faithful and believed through hope that God would accomplish great things through them.

So whenever life becomes difficult and unbearable make the choice to be a person of hope.  It is through hope that we can tap into the greatness that God has in store for us.

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