Br. Miguel Castro
Life seems to be full of hope. A hope which has as its object desired states of life we want to possess: the perfect job, the perfect income, the perfect lifestyle... the perfect life. History has never seen such a time, in which man can do so much, reach new heights, yet reality paints another picture. Why then is our reality so far removed from the expected state of humanity?
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, dedicated an entire chapter on "Hope" in one of his books on the Seven Last Words of Our Lord on the Cross, titled "The Seven Virtues". "True hope" (the virtue, not the emotion), he says, "must be rooted not in the future of time, but beyond the tomb of eternity". The Despair (the contrary of hope) of the world presumes a root not adequate for the kind of hope, the kind of "something to hold on to", all of humanity longs for.
We have so far removed our faith in God from our lives that we no longer hope for eternal things, but instead gamble all on this world. The problem of this shift lies in that man was created for eternity, but we are settling. We are settling for the pleasure of the senses. Meanwhile our spiritual appetite is left morbid, in a permanent fast of true spiritual life. Living for the pleasures of the senses – sensuality – "produces continuous disillusionment". Bishop Sheen explains that because sensual pleasures must be repeated [and even augmented] constantly for satisfaction to last, we enter into a state of dissatisfaction and develop a sense of deceit about our lives and the world. After we perceive to have been fooled, we enter into despair.
Human beings are a composite – made up of body and soul. Even pagans recognized this! Therefore, we have a sensual appetite (proper to the body) and we have a spiritual appetite (proper to the soul). Which is the most important for man's perfection and happiness? The spiritual appetite. When we focus mostly on things pertaining to the body, the sensual, man kills his capacity for the spiritual, resulting in a distaste for what completes him.
When we speak of hope, we imply love. If we love spiritual things, we will seek them and rejoice in them; but if the object of our love is placed on loving our corporeal side, our soul is deadened and we lose satisfaction in duty, family, work, profession, pure sacrificial love, and most of all, God.
In removing God from life, man also removes the purpose for his existence, and removes the motivation to live: life becomes meaningless after being deceived continuously. The "Good Thief" found hope on the Cross, the central cross; his own cross then had meaning. Seeing the world could not make satisfaction, he turned to Him who prayed for His executioners and found hope, asking to be remembered. That day he received paradise. Paradise received him.
Let us as the Psalmist reject the falsity of the world:
Psalm 16 - God the Supreme Good
Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.
As for the holy ones who are in the land, they are noble, in whom is all my delight.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out, nor will I take their names upon my lips.
Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.
Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the Lord always before me; with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.