At the beginning of every new year there is a sense of hope. We take stock of where we are as individuals in our life, where we want to be in a year’s time, and how to go about accomplishing these new resolutions. This may apply to many different aspects of life, such as health, hobbies, or relationships. In a certain sense, this is possible in the spiritual life as well: pondering moments of grace and weakness over the past year, evaluating our responses to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and praying for guidance in the year to come.
St. Thomas Aquinas writes that hope is the virtue that grounds us in eternity, especially as we are tossed about by the storms of this world. “Thus a man,” he writes, “should be held fast to that hope as an anchor,” for God “wills that the anchor of our hope be fixed in that which is now veiled from our eyes” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews). Infused by the Holy Spirit, the gift of hope reminds us of the words and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ and allows us to believe that they will happen. It is easy to think of the moments of trial in the past year, making one rather pessimistic, or at best only slightly optimistic about the year to come. However, by realizing that each one of us is united to Jesus Christ and relives the mysteries of his life, we are prepared to face whatever comes as an opportunity to grow closer to God and be conformed even more into his image. This is where happiness is found: in the union with God and the enjoyment of the eternal life of the Son. The way is arduous and difficult, but we hope in the promises of the Savior.
The Lord calls us to boldness and courage; he calls us from being lukewarm and sets us on fire with his charity. “I look everywhere for your divinity,” writes Bl. Henry Suso, “but you show me your humanity; I desire your sweetness, but you offer me bitterness; I want to suckle, but you teach me to fight.”
Our Lord responded to Bl. Henry Suso, “away with faintheartedness and enter with me the lists of knightly steadfastness. Indulgence is not fitting for the servant when the lord is practicing warlike boldness. I shall clothe you with my armor because all my suffering has to be endured by you as far as you are able.”
The Lord is with us as a warrior and his very life flows through our veins. Therefore, no matter the trials and challenges we face in the new year, we are prepared to endure and overcome them by renewing our hope in him, allowing him to stir our hearts to boldness and zeal for the kingdom of God.
Photo by Braden Collum