theological Virtue of Hope is one of the greatest blessings God gives.
The True Theological Virtue of Hope
No one except Catholics has the true theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Only Catholics in the state of grace have Hope
Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas, Ia IIae, Q.109, a.7.
and Charity, although a Catholic in mortal sin can have the theological virtue of Faith in some way.
God never gives the supernatural virtue of Faith without also giving sanctifying grace, which is the cause of supernatural Faith. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.4, a.4, ad 3. A person who loses sanctifying grace and charity through committing a mortal sin can have the theological virtue of Faith, but it is “lifeless Faith” because the person lacks Charity. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.6, a.2.
Faithful and informed Catholics in the state of grace know they might fail through their own fault and go to hell. Through the Virtue of Hope they know that, if they go to hell, it won’t be because God failed them but because they failed themselves. They know they can prevail over sin because God strengthens them.
St. Paul showed this Hope (Trust) in God when he declared: “I can do all these things in Him Who stengtheneth me”. Philippians, 4:13.
Such Catholics know surely that if
they serve God well, it does not matter who opposes them.
St. Paul declared: “If God be for us, who is against us?” Romans, 8:1.
Trusting unshakably that God will not fail them, but very wary
of their own proneness to sin and failure, such Catholics work out their salvation in “fear and trembling”, as St. Paul urges.
St. Paul admonishes us: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians, 2:12.
Such Catholics both
hope unwaveringly in God and also do not presume on their own strength. Such Catholics are always ready to explain why they hope, to whoever asks.
St. Peter admonishes us to “sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” 1 Peter, 3:15.
The Evil Alternatives to the True, Theological Virtue of Hope
In the current Great Apostasy, very few people have sanctifying grace and the virtue of Hope. Everyone else tends toward presumption or despair.
Below, for completeness, we briefly treat the vice of presumption before we examine more fully the opposite vice of despair.
The conciliar church and the “new” SSPX demonically substitute the Vice of Presumption for the real Virtue of Hope.
Instead of the real
virtue of Hope, the conciliar church
and the N-SSPX
promote a rash presumption which they falsely call Hope.
The N-SSPX teaches its followers that they will go to heaven. Here are the N-SSPX’s words promoting this presumption:
The virtue of hope gives us this certitude... we will see our God, that we will possess Him and willl [sic] be united to Him forever.”
Some people deceive themselves this way—assuring themselves that they will go to heaven. But others—even some non-Catholics—can see that this presumption is self-delusional and irrational.
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Catholic Church, explains the demonic lie of promising ourselves the certitude of heaven despite our human frailty:
Let him who does all that he can, rely firmly upon the mercy of God. But for him who does not do all that lies within his power, to rely upon the mercy of God would be simple presumption.
The Four Last Things, by Fr. Martin Von Cochem, quoting St. Gregory the Great, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois, ©1987, Part 4, ch.4, page 219.
Further, this presumption destroys the reason why God keeps us alive. For why do we still live if our life’s goal (heaven) is already assured? If we already (supposedly) “know” we are going to heaven (as the N-SSPX and the conciliar church demonically claim), then life consists of merely “waiting” until we die and (supposedly) go to our already-guaranteed reward in heaven.
Meanwhile, as we “loiter” on earth during this life, we might have other goals like earning riches or seeking pleasures, but our reason for continued life could not be so that we can strive hard to gain heaven, since we already “know” (supposedly) that we will go there. This is the vice of presumption.
The Paralyzing Meaninglessness of a Hopeless Life
If people reject this rash presumption (viz., the delusion that we are certain to go to heaven) and if they lack the real Hope reserved for souls with sanctifying grace, they tend to despair.
Increasing sinfulness paralyzes people through increasing hopelessness. They think: “Life is meaningless”; “Life is pointless”. “Nothing matters”. “Is this all there is to life?” They see nothing worth living for. The lack of true Faith blinds them to life’s real purpose. Sin drives happiness out of their souls.
Sins progressively weigh down their hearts. They can momentarily
distract themselves with exciting pleasures, entertainment, loud music, and noise, but cannot find peace.
“There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 48:22.
These people see no escape from this crippling sadness and hopelessness.
The gentiles were like this before Our Lord came. They viewed life as pointless, directionless, and sad—regardless of how much pleasure they had. They sank into despair because they saw no hope of deliverance from this condition.
Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Church, described their condition before Our Lord came to redeem man:
The gentiles were not waiting for anyone; and therefore, there was no hope for light [viz., a Redeemer].”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Lectures on St. Matthew’s Gospel, ch.4, v.16 (bracketed words added to reflect the context).
Isaiah foretold how the Messiah would come to relieve the people’s misery:
The people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up.
Here is the longer quote:
And leaving the city Nazareth, [Jesus] came and dwelt in Capharnaum on the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim; That it might be fulfilled which was said by Isaiah the prophet: Land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people that sat in darkness, hath seen great light: and to them that sat in the region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
St. Matthew’s Gospel, ch.4, vv.13-17 (emphasis added).
St. Thomas explains Isaiah’s words by quoting and confirming the explanation of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, who teaches that unbelief and sin lead to hopelessness. Here are St. John’s words:
[M]en were in the greatest miseries before Christ’s coming; they did not walk but sat in darkness; which was a sign that they did not hope for deliverance; for as not knowing what way they should go, shut in by darkness, they sat down, having now no power to stand. By “darkness”, he [viz., Isaiah] means here, error and ungodliness.
Here is the longer quote from St. John Chrysostom:
But that you may learn that he speaks not of natural day and night, he calls the light, "a great light," which is in other places called "the true light;" and he adds, "the shadow of death," to explain what he means by darkness. The words "arose," and "shined," shew, that they found it not of their own seeking, but God Himself appeared to them, they did not first run to the light; for men were in the greatest miseries before Christ's coming; they did not walk but sat in darkness; which was a sign that they did not hope for deliverance; for as not knowing what way they should go, shut in by darkness they sat down, having now no power to stand. By darkness he means here, error and ungodliness.
St. John Chrysostom, quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Catena Aurea of St. Matthew’s Gospel, ch.4, v.16 (emphasis added).
Thus, we see that only with the Catholic Faith men have hope, a worthy goal, direction, and motivation such that those men no longer sit in darkness but can walk in the light of Our Lord, Who is the Light of the World.
“Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” St. John’s Gospel, 8:12.
Paganism is now spreading and Hopelessness along with it.
The world continues to sink further from Catholicism into paganism. But this new paganism is worse than the pre-Christian paganism of the gentiles because it is now founded upon a rejection of Our Lord and the Catholic Church (rather than never knowing Him).
With the increase of this new paganism, also comes the increase of hopelessness. We see this hopelessness in many forms, some of which are subtler, such as most people’s attempts to distract themselves at all times, e.g., with loud and evil music, constant smartphone use, the internet, and videos. They try to never “be alone” with their consciences nor have the quiet to think about the meaning of life.
The Increase of Hopelessness causes the Increased Use of “Antidepressant” Narcotics, which Masks the Problem and makes it Worse.
No one ever entirely succeeds in distracting himself from his sadness and hopelessness. Thus, the pharmaceutical industry developed “antidepressant” narcotics to mask hopelessness.
Consider, for example, how the information and statistics of antidepressant use in the U.S. show the ubiquity of hopelessness. (The U.S. statistics are only an example of the wider problem, but the statistics from other countries are likewise well–worth considering):
- Americans are taking antidepressants in “astounding numbers”.
- According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in the U.S. increased by almost 400% between 1988—1994 and between 2005—2008.
- About one in every 10 Americans currently takes antidepressants. If you include those who recently took antidepressants but are not currently taking them, the ratio is one in eight Americans.
- Antidepressants are the third most common prescription medication taken by Americans.
- 23% of U.S. women in their 40s and 50s take antidepressants.
- Antidepressant use does not vary by income status (because virtue, not money, causes happiness and hope).
- More than one in five U.S. adults takes a drug used to treat psychological and behavioral disorders, up 22% from ten years earlier.
- Between 1999 and 2013, U.S. psychiatric drug prescriptions increased 117% from 197,247,557 to 427,837,506. During this same period, the death rate from overdose on prescription psychiatric drugs climbed 240%.
These antidepressants are a great spiritual hazard! They impede the solution to this despair and aggravate the problem, because antidepressants:
The Rise of Hopelessness also causes the Rise in Addiction to Illegal Narcotics and the Increase in Suicides.
We also see this rise of hopelessness in even more desperate forms, such as addiction to illegal narcotics, and suicide. For example:
- The U.S. suicide rate in 2017 was the highest it’s been in at least 50 years. More than 47,000 Americans killed themselves in 2017, up from a little under 45,000 in 2016.
- “We’ve never really seen anything like this,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics for the U.S. Center for Disease Control (“CDC”).
- Behind declining life expectancy, Dr. William Dietz (a disease prevention expert at George Washington University) sees a sense of hopelessness. He stated: “I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide ....”
- U.S. drug overdose deaths also continued to climb, surpassing 70,000 in 2017, amid the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. This death rate rose 10 percent compared to 2016.
- The Center for Disease Control reported that, from 1999 to 2014, the U.S. suicide rate increased 24%. This suicide rate was 14 deaths per 100,000 people per year. That’s the highest since at least 1975.
- The CDC also reports that more people shoot, suffocate and hang themselves.
People who consider their salvation certain are fooling themselves.
Those who aren’t rashly presumptuous generally tend toward despair. They are engulfed in the darkness of error and sin. Directionless, without hope of deliverance, they sit in darkness as Isaiah described. This is a despair and sadness that earthly pleasures cannot assuage.
Without God and the Catholic Faith, all is lost! The solution is to make the Catholic Faith our whole life! That is the happy life of hope, of purpose, and of no regrets. That life ends in eternal happiness!