Sunday, December 7, 2014

Everyday Prayers: The Act of Hope

Hope is essential to every Christian. According to Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, hope is “a steadfast turning toward the true fulfillment of man's nature, that is, toward has its source in the reality of grace in man and is directed toward supernatural happiness in God.” He continues, “Hope is the confidently patient expectation of eternal beatitude in a contemplative and comprehensive sharing of the triune life of God...”

This hope is what we are expressing when we pray the Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen. 

Let's look closely at this beautiful little prayer.

1. O my God – With these three little words, we are claiming God as our own. We are saying that we have a personal relationship with Him. We are not, of course, asserting that we can control God or that we somehow possess Him. Quite the opposite is true. When we claim God, we submit to His will and His loving control of our lives, and we allow Him to possess us.

2. relying on Your almighty power – God is omnipotent. His power is limitless, and He puts that power to work for our good because He loves us. We, in turn, must rely on His power and not on our own strength, which is extremely limited. As St. Paul says, “So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

3. and infinite mercy – Like God's power, God's mercy has no end. He is always waiting to shower His mercy upon us. All we have to do is repent and confess our sins, just realize and acknowledge that we are sinners. Then our hearts become open to receive the infinite mercy that is always available from our loving God.

4. and promises – What does God promise? He promises forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ and an eternity in Heaven with Him. Our job is to accept those promises and respond to them.

5. I hope to obtain pardon of my sins – God longs to forgive us. He wants us to be in an intimate relationship with Him, one that is not broken or damaged by sin. We can have firm confidence, therefore, that when, with repentant hearts, we ask God to forgive us, He will do so.

6. the help of Your grace – We need God's grace at every moment of the day. The Catechism says that 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” (#1996). Sanctifying grace is the presence of God in our souls. Actual grace is the help God gives us to choose Him and follow Him at every moment of the day. God loves to give us His grace. He wants to give us His grace. We just need to accept and embrace His grace.

7. and life everlasting – That is our goal, life with God forever and ever in Heaven. God longs to give us that everlasting life, that never-ending face-to-face relationship with Him that is the meaning and ultimate end of everything we are and everything we do. As always, we must respond to God's longing and reach out to receive what He yearns to give.

8. through the merits of Jesus Christ – Jesus died for us to open the way to eternal salvation that was closed by the sin of our first parents. He merited all the graces we receive from God. Because He is God Himself, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He did what we could never do, namely, offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice to God to atone for all sin and open the door to Heaven.

9. my Lord and Redeemer – Jesus is God. He is the Lord of all. He is our King, and we must acknowledge His authority in our lives and give Him the proper love, respect, and obedience. Jesus is also our Redeemer. He has saved us from our sins and from the punishment that follows from them. He has purchased us with His own blood and brought us out of slavery to sin to be His beloved subjects and family for all eternity.

10. Amen – With this little word, we give our firm assent to everything we have just prayed. We once again express our hope in God and in His great love for us.

Let us pray:

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

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