Hoping Against Hope

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Hoping Against Hope

may God, the source of hope, fill you with joy…(Romans 15:13)

            Hope is the virtue which tells us that all is well in our world.  Hope placed in other people means that we trust them no matter what; that we believe they can do a task regardless of how many things point to the contrary.  Hope with even a smidgen of doubt is not hope at all, but even a little hope can keep our spirits alive.  Abraham we are told, “hoped against hope” that Sarah would bear a child in her old age.             Hope requires waiting and for most of us waiting is foreign.  We want instant coffee, instant cereal, fast foods and express lanes.  I recall one of my novitiate teachers telling us, “Moments of waiting can be moments of prayer.”  For Type A personalities, however, these prayers may turn out to be, not surprisingly, unindulgenced ejaculations!  Fortunately, we do have enduring examples of the experience of waiting.  We think of the mother who, in loving patience, perseveres through the long months before her baby is born, or the farmer who, after many weeks of hard work, waits in quiet expectation for the first fruits of the earth to appear.             As Christians, the times we wait can be both virtuous and mysterious.  In this sense, hope is bigger than we are, for our expectation and waiting symbolize, ultimately, the longing we have deep in our hearts for all creation to be fulfilled:  all is not yet.  Let us make our moments of waiting be moments of prayer for that day when God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Jesus, we place all our hope in You!


Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB

Sister Mary E Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.




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“Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.”
–Henri Nouwen