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Advent -- A Season of Hope ^ | December 7, 2009 | Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Posted on 12/07/2009 9:33:19 PM PST by Salvation

A Season of Hope

December 7th, 2009 by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Faith, hope, and love. St. Paul, in I Corinthians 13:13, says these three are the bottom line. They are called the theological virtues, the qualities that make us most like God.

We hear plenty about faith and love. But when is the last time you heard a rousing homily on hope? Why is hope important? And what is it precisely?

To accomplish great things in life, you need a future goal that is big enough to keep you motivated. The promise of a diploma makes college students stay up late writing papers when they’d rather be partying. The dream of Olympic glory gets the runner up early to put in miles while others are comfortably snoozing.

In the spiritual life, you’ll never do great things for God unless you have your eye on the long term goal — indescribable joy in his presence forever. The ecstasy of gazing upon Him whose beauty eternally awes the hosts of heaven, the exhilarating company of friends, family, and fascinating people from all ages — purified, glorified, finished masterpieces of divine love — this is what “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6) will usher in, for those who are ready.

The virtue of hope is the eager, energizing expectation of this glorious inheritance. And it’s also the confidence that He who began the work of salvation in us will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

Some of our separated brethren think Catholics live in fearful insecurity, perpetually worrying that they may not make the grade. These Christians, on other hand, believe that once people accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they are saved, period. God is faithful, they reason, and never reneges on his promises. Once saved, always saved.

This is partially true. God’s promise is sure. He gives us grace to accept Christ and salvation. But his grace never comes in a way that short-circuits our freedom. In other words, God is a lover, not a rapist. He never overpowers us and carries us away against our will. The possibility always remains that we will walk away, as did the Prodigal Son. Fortunately the Prodigal came to his senses and returned. But note that the Father did not send out a posse. The wayward son returned of his own accord. The story could have ended otherwise.

So is there a Catholics version of “blessed assurance”? Yes. We call it hope . We have confidence that God will give us the grace to persevere, and even better, to grow stronger in his love right up to the “day of Christ Jesus.”

But hope is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, a virtue not principally of the mind that believes in God’s faithfulness, but of the will that longs for heaven with a desire that propels it forward to ever greater spiritual growth.

One opposite of hope is despair , failure to believe that God’s mercies are never exhausted. But hope has other opposites as well. Like sloth , or spiritual laziness. When faced with the prospect of life forever with God, sloth yawns and says “BOR-ing.” Sound familiar?

Or how about presumption ? Hope is humble confidence that God won’t give up on me. Presumption is the arrogant expectation that God owes me mercy, regardless how neglectful I am of the means of grace, like Mass, prayer, and Confession.

Hope is a spiritual muscle. But like all muscles, it must be exercised just to survive. Unused muscles atrophy. Use it or lose it.

That’s why each year the Church gives us a season of Hope, which we called Advent. Though our society has made it a season of indulgence, it is meant to be a season of training. It’s time to blow on the spark of spiritual desire within us till it bursts into flame. Christmas lights are nice, but it is we who are supposed to be the light of the world.


Dr. D'Ambrosio studied under Avery Cardinal Dulles for his Ph.D. in historical theology and taught for many years at the University of Dallas. He now directs, which offers Catholic resources for RCIA and adult and teen faith formation, with a special emphasis on the Eucharist, the Theology of the Body, the early Church Fathers, and the Sacrament of Confirmation.

(This article originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and is used by permission of the author.)

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: advent; catholic; catholiclist
Faith, hope and charity -- all present during Advent and even more so -- during Christmastide.
1 posted on 12/07/2009 9:33:22 PM PST by Salvation
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To: All
Virtues are such an important part of a Christian or Catholic's life.

Advent -- A Season of Hope
Modesty En Vogue [Another one of the virtues]"
Prudence: Mother of All Virtues
The Virtue of Confidence
Is Courage a Masculine Virtue?

Cardinal Virtues: Obama and the Real American Infrastructure – Part One
Cardinal Virtues: Obama and the Real American Infrastructure — Part Two
Morality is Habit-Forming: The Cardinal Virtues
The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue [St. Thomas Aquinas]
Living the Virtue of Humility

2 posted on 12/07/2009 9:36:03 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Advent -- A Season of Hope
A New Holiday Tradition -- Construct a Jesse Tree with your family during Advent
Pope on Advent: With Jesus, there is no life without meaning

Advent: Awaiting God's Justice -- Pope Benedict XVI
St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
Advent Reflections for 2008
Bringing our fallen-away relations back to Church during Advent
History and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time
Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Mary's Gift of Self Points the Way, "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 1 of 4
The Perfect Faith of the Blessed Virgin "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 2 of 4
Theotokos sums up all that Mary is: "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 3 of 4

Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent
Renewing the Mystery of Advent, Part Two: The Witness of John the Baptist
Why “Gaudete?”, Part Three (Third Sunday of Advent)
Sunday before Nativity
Holy Mary and the Death of Sin - "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 4 of 4

Catholic Liturgy - Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday
Advent through Christmas -- 2007
Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Advent 2007 -- Day by Day
Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack)

The Advent Workshop -- lots of information and activities
Jesse Trees (genealogy of Jesus activity for families)
Advent Wreath & Candles (Prayers for the Family)
Advent Overview
Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent

Celebrating Christ’s Advent [Archbishop Raymond Burke]
Praying through Advent -- 2006
The Paradox of Advent
Experience the Joy of Advent
Advent: the Reason for the Season

The Advent Wreath
Advent Activity - The Jesse Tree
That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season (Christmas should start, not end, Dec. 25)
Advent Thoughts: Some of the Church Fathers on the Divinity of Christ
The Relationship Between Advent and the Change in the Seasons (Dom Guéranger)

3 posted on 12/07/2009 9:37:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Wishing you all a blessed Advent season.

4 posted on 12/07/2009 9:38:13 PM PST by Ciexyz (The Lord is merciful and ever-ready to hear our prayers.)
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To: Salvation
Advent bump.

Creation cannot function without hope.

5 posted on 12/07/2009 9:41:38 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (free enterprise (the first word is a verb))
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