Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1970) 

Keep Your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by Your protection. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.” 

While the Pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima was dropped in the Pauline liturgical reform of 1970, this Collect nevertheless sets a fitting tone for the next two and a half preparatory weeks prior to the beginning of Lent. As we think about what discipline(s) we will undertake this Lent, the Church gives us a timely reminder of two central components of Christian life: hope and grace.

The Church teaches that the virtue of hope is a divine gift which God infuses into our souls in baptism. As such, it is not merely a worldly notion of wishing or desire which may or may not be fulfilled. Worldly hope depends principally upon us or upon others (and we often disappoint ourselves and one another!).

Christian hope, by contrast, is a virtue coming directly from God, and is “the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2090). In other words, God equips us in baptism with the ability to trust that He will fulfill his promises, and give us the grace to become saints and get to heaven. As we pray in the common “Act of Hope” prayer, “O my God, relying upon Thine infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and redeemer.”  

Far from being presumptuous or care-free about sin (refer again to Catechism no. 2090), hope is characterized in every way by having a God-ward orientation. The posture of the baptized person who hopes in God is one of relying principally upon God’s mercy and goodness in Jesus Christ, not on one’s own merits. And the joyful thing about hope is that it “does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” as St. Paul teaches in Romans 5:5.

In all the uncertainties of life, hope is a virtue we do well to cultivate and bolster, because God will not fail us. Hope rests firmly on God himself, who is infinitely good and has rock-solid promises, as we see above.

What is the object of our hope? God Himself, principally, but secondarily His gifts of grace, which enable us to become the saints He has created us to be. As we have just seen, hope terminates in the generous outpouring of His very own life within us: the grace of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Catechism nos. 1996-9 elaborates on the subject of grace:

1996: “...Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.”

1997: “Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life... [the baptized person] receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.”

1998: “This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for He alone can reveal and give Himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.”

1999: “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of His own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification.”  

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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