On Hope

A few thoughts from ’On Hope’, by Joseph Pieper. A book so excellent I am reluctant to write about it, as every sentence in the book contains profound truth and my English seems not good enough to give it words. Yet, there are such deep underlying convictions about ’hope’ in people, determining whether they ’move’ or not, live their lives alive in Christ or half asleep, that I do want to post it. To encourage you to get hold of a copy of the book. The multiplex ’Calling the Church back to humility, integrity and simplicity’, made my heart bow before God in recognition of my humanness and made me think of ’On Hope’.

It is important for man to realize again he is on his way (status viatoris). We are not ’there’ yet. To not be ’there’ yet, gives openness for growth and progress and points out that we are on our way to a destination. When you are on your way, you are focussed on something. Focussed on fulfillment (the highest state of being, bliss).

In the virtue of hope man understands and acknowledges he is created being and created by God. That is through Him he can also attain his highest purpose. Directed towards God man realizes he is a person, made with the purpose of being and becoming. At the same time realizing he is depending (humility) for this on God. In this Christ is the hope, holding us and whom we can hold onto.

Prayer and hope. Prayer is an expression of hope, through Christ, the hope. Despair (prayer is not answered) and praesumptio (already ’knowing’ the answer) block prayer (the stem of hope), because in ourselves we have already determined in the ’answer’..

The focus of man on himself is dangerous and leads to nothing, at the same time sight of who you are and can become (magnanimity) diminishes.

Despair destroys the pilgrim character, progress is no longer possible, because all is predestined or does not work.

It is a choice of the will man has to make, between despair and hope. Despair is defined by man and hope by Christ. He opened the door to hope and showed its depth, but also because of Him the depth of despair has become clear – the gap between God and man, between being and nothingness.

Acedia (lustful sloth) is the root of despair. We prefer being small, to avoid responsibility. We twist humility: the supernatural good is denied, because it asks a response from man, the recipient. Ultimately it is a flight from God. 

Knowing who God is, fearing Him and hope are complementing each other, connected through the deep love that searches for God for whom He is. This love is hopes base. The negative side of it is fear. The ultimate threat for man is the loss of being, because we are able to sin. Fear of God sees sin as sin, deeper than just punishment. Psalm 115:11 ’You who fear him, trust in the Lord.’

The fear of the Lord is a reminder of our humanity, the ’not yet’.

People need to know the need to focus on Christ, who is the hope. And need to become aware there is a choice: to focus on God or on self.

Colossians 1:27 ’To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.’

Hebrews 6: 18 ’… we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.’

1 Timothy 1:1 ’Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope,…’


’On Hope’, by Joseph Pieper, Ignatius press.