Advent is the season of hope and expectation. Hope is a supernatural virtue by which we expect, with a firm confidence, because of God's fidelity to His promises, life everlasting and the means of attaining it.
Hence, the principle object of hope is eternal happiness, and the secondary object of hope is the means of attaining eternal happiness. Glory and grace are the objects of hope.
In God we trust
The mercy of God is the reason for our hope. We obtain both pardon and grace through the mercy of God. Pardon for sins removes the obstacles to our union with God, whereas grace brings about that union.
Hope is founded on the mercy of God, and this mercy has no limit. Hence, St. Thomas teaches us that "man can never love God as much as He should be loved; neither can he believe and hope in Him as much as he ought." The measure of hope is to hope without measure.
St. Therese said, "We can never have too much confidence in the good God Who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for." St. John of the Cross wrote, "The more the soul hopes, the more it attains."
Jesus Himself told St. Faustina, "The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is <0x2013> trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive."
Prayer and desire
St. Augustine defines prayer as an exercise of desire. God knows all our needs before we pray to Him, but He wants us to ask Him, so that by exercising hope in prayer our heart will be more ready to accept His gifts. St. Augustine explained why God does not always answer our prayers immediately: "By delaying, God strengthens our desire; through desire He enlarges our soul, and by expanding it He increases its capacity."
Formal prayers, especially liturgical prayers, help us to form our desire. The texts of these prayers teach us what are the things we ought to hope for.
Suffering and trials
In this earthly life, suffering is unavoidable. The greater the suffering, the greater hope we need to help us through. Pope Benedict in his encyclical letter on hope (Spe Salvi) pointed out that in our many different sufferings and trials we always need the lesser and greater hopes.
In our lesser trials, lesser hopes like a kind visit or a favourable resolution may be sufficient. But in truly great trials, we need the certitude of the true, great hope of eternal life. The martyrs are shining examples of facing great sufferings and trials with such hope.
In times of sufferings and trials, it is important to remember the words of St. Paul: "God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
Sins against hope
The sins against hope are despair and presumption. Despair is the refusal to trust that God will give necessary help for one's salvation. Presumption is the false hope of achieving salvation by one's own efforts without God's help, or by God's help without one's own efforts.
The remedies for despair are: meditation on the divine goodness of God, confidence in Our Lord Who died for us upon the cross, and devotion to Our Lady.
Presumption is caused by pride and a lack of fear of God. The remedies for presumption are humility, and meditation on the justice and judgments of God.
Let us wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
既定的祈禱經文 ——— 特別是禮儀內的禱文，幫助我們正確地塑造渴求。禱文指導我們應渴求些什麼。
俗世的生命避免不了痛苦；痛苦越大，所需的希望也越大。教宗本篤十六世在其有關望德的通諭中，指出在不同的痛苦與試探中，我們需要大大小小的希望。小試探需要較小的希望已足夠，但面對大試探，我們需要對永生存有堅定不移的真希望，才能應付 ——— 殉道聖人正是懷有這真希望的光輝實例。