The Virgin Mary’s hope at the foot of the Cross is a determining factor of her maternal calling. By being united with her Divine Son as He suffered and died on the Cross: The Church teaches: “In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour.”
The Church, like Mary, lives the Resurrection “in hope”. For the Church the Cross is an object of veneration from whence came our redemption, whereas Christ’s Resurrection is an object of hope.
Just as Mary was close to her crucified son, so the Church is called to be close to the crucified of today: the poor in spirit, the suffering, the humiliated, those who are persecuted for their faith. How can the Church stay close to these people? In hope, like Mary. It is not enough to pity people’s sufferings or even to try to alleviate them. This would be insufficient and anyone can do that, even those who know nothing about the Resurrection. The Church must transmit hope, proclaiming that suffering is not absurd, that it is meaningful, because there will be the Resurrection after death. The Church, and thus we her members, must give “a reason for the hope that is within us” (1 Peter 3:15).
People need hope to live just as they need oxygen to breathe. The Church too needs to proclaim this hope, to give faithful witness in a world crushed by all the internal and external sins, trials and suffering. And so we must live this time of the great trial of the coronavirus, with strength, responsibility, and most especially with hope. All things will pass away, “but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
Hope has been, and still is, the poor relation among the theological virtues. Charles Péguy (1) has a beautiful image in this regard. He said that the three theological virtues—faith, hope and charity—are like three sisters: two grown-ups and one still a child. They walk together on the street holding hands, the two big ones on the sides and the little girl in the centre. The little girl is of course Hope. Everyone seeing them says: “It is certainly the two grown-ups who drag the girl in the centre!” They are wrong: it is the little girl Hope who drags the two sisters, because if Hope stops everything stops.
We must become “accomplices of the child, Hope,” as the same French poet said… This means you allow God to send you the cross of trials, disappointments and suffering on this earth as often as He wishes for your sanctification. More than that, it means being happy deep down in some remote corner of your heart that God didn’t listen to your pleading for goods that would not help you on the path to holiness.Taking up your cross and following Him, He has allowed you to show Him another proof of your humility and obedience to His divine will, and also your hope in His promises of eternity in Heaven. All suffering borne with patience for His sake is proof of your love and another act of hope, even if you struggle to accept these crosses and they become increasingly more difficult for you each time. He has granted you a much greater grace than the one you asked for: the grace of hope in Him. He has all eternity to reward you.
(1) French writer, Charles Péguy (1873-1914), poet and Catholic mystic, died on September 5th, killed by a bullet in his head, on the eve of the first Battle of the Marne (France) during WWI.
(A CP&S original, partly taken from a Lenten sermon by Fr Cantalamesa )