Making It Real: Hope

It’s all very well to consider hope as an abstract concept, but how do we translate it into reality? The answer is, of course, a little at a time and with patience. Here are some specific and practical ideas which are likely to help.

Pray. The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically recommends the Our Father: “Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire” (#1819)

Give. Clear out your clutter by giving your excess belongings to those in need. Dig deep! It’s incredibly freeing to reduce the number of things you own. (For some inspiration, read Matt. 6:28, Luke 6:38.)

Help others. When we focus too much on ourselves and get carried away with worrying about what other people think of us, perhaps the easiest solution is to turn our gaze outward—to look at those around us, to see their needs. Then we can proactively seek ways to help them and to be with them in  their suffering.

Turn off the news. The news industry is a profitable business built on finding things (mostly bad news) that will keep us watching and reading (and this can be very addictive for some of us!). While we do need to know something of what is going on in the world, and recognize and fight evil when we encounter it, we need to shut off the information flow if it has become a source of despair and distraction in our lives.

Make a list of things you are grateful for. Oftentimes when our lives are easy and comfortable, we take things for granted, take ourselves too seriously, and start to get overwhelmed by the little things. Deliberate gratitude (accompanied by the cultivation of an atmosphere of appreciation in our homes) can be a powerful antidote!

Embrace “littleness.” The old Latin saying Age Quod Agis (Do What You Are Doing) is a helpful reminder to live in the present and concentrate on the task at hand. Though we are asked to cooperate in God’s plan and work diligently, He is the mastermind of the bigger picture. Embrace the wonder and joy of your children—enter into their “little life.” Take the time to share their beautiful interests and delights. Read fairy tales! Take walks. Talk about their hopes and dreams. Lead them in prayer.

Practice Trust. Let go of those things that you really can’t control even if you try. God’s timing and plan is better anyway. You can practice this even in tiny ways, like not freaking out when you are stuck in traffic, but allowing God and his peace into that situation

Be inspired by great witnesses to hope. Take the time to reflect upon and study the virtue of hope (and related concepts like littleness and trust).