St. Anthony – Monthly Meditation
Human Hope or Divine Hope
by Fr. Roger A. Synek
In these times when we are required to wear masks, social distance, go to school online, etc., a lot of people respond to these requirements in different ways. Some people stay positive and optimistic and remain hopeful while others become negative and pessimistic and spiral into despair. No one really wants the pain experienced by this last group.
Hope is the key that prevents us from spiraling into despair. Hope helps us from becoming negative and pessimistic. Hope will not eliminate all pain, however it gives us the stamina to endure it, the courage to learn from it and the miraculous power, when united with Jesus, to turn something ugly (like the crucifixion) into something beautiful.
The general definition of hope, according to the Catholic Bible Dictionary written by Dr. Scott Hahn, is “The confident expectation of some desired good. Hope entails … [that] we must act to bring about what is desired …” and we understand that “… what is desired will not necessarily be attained easily or readily.” (Article titled Hope).
When the future “desired good” comes from human beings such as a vaccine for Covid, more assistance from the government, better economic times, extension of our rent payments etc. this is called human or natural hope. We actively search for people who can satisfy this hope. Achieving this “desired good” depends on our willpower and the strength of our determination to make it happen. And when this “desired good” is obtained, natural hope fades away and we begin a new search for something else to hope for – a nicer car, a larger house, easier job with higher wages, more leisure, etc. and it will never end. Every ad in media preys on this natural hope. We will never be fully satisfied.
On the other hand, when the future “desired good” comes from God such as interior peace, heaven and the means to reach heaven, it is called divine or supernatural hope. This “desired good” will fully satisfy us. However, we cannot rely on our own strength to achieve it nor will it be “attained easily or readily.” This “desired good” can only be obtained through grace freely given to us by God – grace to achieve it, grace to trust that God will give us this grace and the grace of confidence that God will take us to heaven. And the only way to receive these graces is to humbly and faithfully cooperate with God by using these graces.
Supernatural hope seems complicated, but it is rather simple. All the tools (grace) are available anytime and everywhere. Cooperation means use them, that is, make little acts (prayers) of hope – “I trust you Jesus.” “I believe you Jesus.” “I love you Jesus.” “I place all my hope in you Jesus.” When you find yourself becoming tired of wearing masks or waiting for that vaccine, make an act of hope – “Jesus, I am fully confident that you will give me what I need to get through this.” When you find yourself discouraged because you feel trapped, make an act of hope – “Jesus, I am absolutely convinced you will lead me to the freedom waiting for me in heaven.”
If you consistently and frequently make little acts of hope throughout any trial or tribulation life throws at you, you will remain positive and optimistic and hopeful. In fact, you will be surprised at what you learn and how something difficult and ugly can become beautiful. This is how God works. This is really what our hearts yearn for. So, during this Advent season, a season that promotes divine hope, practice making little acts of hope throughout your day. If you are able to make this practice a habit, don’t be surprised what Jesus will do through you.
Fr. Roger A. Synek
St. Anthony Catholic Church