Hope (virtue)

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Allegorical personification of Hope: "Hope in a Prison of Despair" by Evelyn De Morgan

Hope (lat. spes) is one of the three theological virtues in Christian tradition. Hope being a combination of the desire for something and expectation of receiving it, the virtue is hoping for Divine union and so eternal happiness. Like all virtues, it arises from the will, not the passions.

“The Christian who hopes seeks God for himself or herself. In technical language, the formal object of theological hope is God-as-possessed.”[1]

Hope is opposed to the sins of despair and presumption; refraining from them is adhering to the negative precept of hope. The positive precept is required when exercising some duties, as in prayer or penance.

Some forms of Quietism have denied that a human being should desire anything whatsoever to such an extent that they denied that hope was a virtue.

In the Christian tradition, hope in Christ and faith in Christ are closely linked, with hope having a connotation that means the one with hope has a firm assurance, through the witness of the Holy Spirit, that Christ has promised a better world to those who are His. The Christian sees death not just as the end of a passing life, but as the gateway to a future life without end and in all fullness. In the words of Benedict XVI: "Whoever believes in Christ has a future. For God has no desire for what is withered, dead, ersatz, and finally discarded: he wants what is fruitful and alive, he wants life in its fullness and he gives us life in its fullness"[2]

Hope can thus sustain one through trials of faith, human tragedies or difficulties that may otherwise seem overwhelming. Hope is seen as "an anchor of the soul" as referenced in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the New Testament. Hebrews 7:19 also describes the "better hope" of the New Covenant in Christ rather than the Old Covenant of the Jewish law.

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  1. ^ Cessario, Romanus (2002). The Virtues, or the Examined Life. London: Continuum. p. 38. 
  2. ^ Homily, Berlin, September 22, 2011 [1]

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