Without Christian hope, a virtuous life seems futile, pope says

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Pope Francis prays before a statue of Our Lady of Luján during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 8, 2024, the feast day of Our Lady of Luján. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The world is in great need of hope and patience, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience.

Those who are patient “are weavers of goodness. They stubbornly desire peace, and even if others are hasty and would like everything straight away, patience is capable of waiting,” he said.

“Even when many around us have succumbed to disillusionment, those who are inspired by hope and are patient are able to get through the darkest of nights,” he said in St. Peter’s Square May 8, the feast of Our Lady of Luján, patroness of Argentina. Before giving his catechesis, the pope prayed a few moments before a small statue of the Our Lady of Luján that was placed with two small floral bouquets to the right of his chair.

Theological virtue of hope

The pope continued his series of audience talks about vices and virtues by reflecting on the “theological” or New Testament virtue of hope.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope noted, says, “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

Life without meaning gives rise to sadness and desperation, he said.

“Many may rebel” by insisting they have “striven to be virtuous, to be prudent, just, strong, temperate,” the pope said. They declare, “I have also been a man or woman of faith…. What was the use of my fight if everything ends here?”

“If hope is missing, all the other virtues risk crumbling and ending up as ashes. If no reliable tomorrow, no bright horizon, were to exist, one would only have to conclude that virtue is a futile effort,” the pope said.

Pope Francis touches a baby’s head during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 8, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Christian hope “is not an obstinacy we want to convince ourselves of, but it is a gift that comes directly from God,” he said. It is a belief in the future “because Christ died and rose again and gave us his spirit.”

“If you believe in the resurrection of Christ, then you know with certainty that no defeat and no death is forever,” he said.

Challenges to hope

However, the pope said, “hope is a virtue against which we sin often: in our bad nostalgia, in our melancholy, when we think that the happiness of the past is buried forever.”

“We sin against hope when we become despondent over our sins, forgetting that God is merciful and greater than our hearts,” he said, emphasizing that “God forgives everything; God always forgives.”

“The world today is in great need of this Christian virtue” of hope, he said, “just as it needs patience, a virtue that walks in close contact with hope.”

The pope asked people to pray for “the grace of hope along with patience” and to “always look toward that ultimate encounter; always see that the Lord is always near us and that death will never, ever be victorious.”

Carol Glatz

Carol Glatz writes for Catholic News Service.