The Meaning of Hope

“There is close connection between hope and hopes, but we must not confuse the two.”  Brother David Stendl-Rast OSB writes in his book, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, “We set our hopes on something we imagine.  But Hope is open for the unimaginable.”

Some thirty years ago, I heard Brother David speak at a retreat that was dedicated to the theological virtues.  Before that day, I thought I knew what Hope was.  After hearing him,  I had a completely new understanding.

“Hope is what remains, after every single hope that we have is completely crushed.”  That took my breath away.  As Brother David explained, Jesus perfectly demonstrates what true Hope is from the Cross.  Despite  great agony and darkness, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father.

” Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!”   -Luke 23:46

Jesus shows  what Hope is

Thus, the door was opened to the Resurrection.

Optimism is not synonymous with Hope, though it is often thought to be.  Once again, Brother David;

“Optimism and pessimism are equally unrealistic.  Neither optimists nor pessimists are much concerned with reality, only with holding their party line.  Optimism and pessimism pretend.  But Hope shows concern.”

So what is exactly is Hope?  Stendl-Rast says, ” Hope is an aspect of God’s very life within us.  Hope is openness to surprise.  And “Surprise” is a name for God… Pure hope expects the surprise that even if the worst happens, it will be the best.”

My experience bears this out.  So many times in life, I have been disappointed when my expectations have not been met.  Yet Hope, which reveals itself in patient waiting, has been my anchor.  In fact, the anchor was a very early Christian symbol for hope;

” … we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.  This we have as an anchor of the soul…” -Hebrews 6:18-19

I’m not forgetting that Hope, as Christians know it, points to the afterlife.  This is the ultimate consolation that we have as followers of Jesus.  For in heaven, “every tear will be wiped dry.” (Rev. 21:4)

” Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into our minds, what God has ready for those who love him.”   -1 Cor. 2:9

At the same time, I strive to remain open to the ever-unfolding wonders of this life.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Jesus is present in my life now. (Rom. 8:11).  This fills my heart with peace and joy and empowers me to share His transformative truth with others.

We live in an age where it is a struggle to hope.  Or rather, if we fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of Hope, then it will be difficult to have peace and joy.  For we will confuse hopes with Hope.

St. Paul understood quite clearly the meaning of Hope.

St Paul
His Resurrection is our Hope

“… and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”   -Romans 5:5







Our Deepest Identity

My husband, Glenn, and I are at a crossroads.  We’re praying about “A Visit With St. Paul,” as he wrote in the last blog.  We’ve written a hopefully inspiring and humorous movie about St. Kateri Tekakwitha, re-named, “Better Mistakes”  (see “Kateri’s Path” tab above).  We thought we might sell it this summer but it turned out to be a false start.  Naturally, this was quite disappointing.

I’ve also been substitute teaching the past fourteen years, studying St. John Paul II”s Theology of the Body, spending time with my  family, and supporting Glenn in his one-man show of St. Paul.  But lately, I find myself wondering, “What am I doing?” and “Who am I?”

My college roommate, Nicole, said she wanted to be a teacher since she was a child.  Some people know they’re called to be nurses, mechanics, priests or nuns from an early age.  God hasn’t worked with me this way.  I enjoy working with youth, teaching and writing and I’ve had many jobs that have included these skills.

Our friend, Paul, stopped by recently.  He shared about some health  concerns so we offered to pay for a massage.  I told him that I was feeling a bit aimless and it would make me feel good to do something for him – partly, this was an “angle” because I knew it would help him accept the gift more easily.  We told him about our movie and other parts of our life that seem to be on hold.  He responded, “You two are such great pray-ers!  That’s so important.”

Thank you, Paul, because I needed to hear that!  Part of my identity does get caught up in what I’m doing or how life seems to be going.  But deep down, I know that my deepest identity is as a child of God.  And spending time with our Father, our Abba, our Daddy, and Jesus, our best friend and Savior is the most important thing that I can do and be.

Last winter, I was going through a stressful time and feeling anxious.  I prayed each morning…

“I am a daughter of the living God and a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

What peace this gave me!   Satan was telling me that I was bad, worthless… and other such lies.  God showed me my deepest identity.  Through the prophet, we are reminded;

“You are precious in God’s eyes.”     — Isaiah 43:4

This link below, to a beautiful video by the musician/composer, John Michal Talbot will help make you aware of your deepest identity;