The Theological Virtue of Hope Explained by Fr. Ripperger

This content is taken from a Conference given by Fr. Chad Ripperger on the Three Theological Virtues and it is transcribed here by Tony Capobianco.

Permission to transcribe Father’s talk was sought and permission was granted. The copyright remains that of Sensus Traditionis.

© 2019, Fr. Chad Ripperger - All Rights Reserved. © Sensus Traditionis 

Artwork by: Guglielmo Borremans. Title: The Theological Virtue - Hope. Year: 1721. (This work is in the public domain. {{ PD-US }}

Artwork by: Guglielmo Borremans. Title: The Theological Virtue - Hope. Year: 1721. (This work is in the public domain. {{PD-US}}

Fr. Ripperger  0:01

Tonight we talk about the Theological Virtue of Hope. Last night, of course, we talked about the theological virtue of Faith and the truth, of course is that the two are connected. The theological virtue of Hope, like all theological virtues is an infused habit. The theological virtue of Hope concerns a future arduous good. That is, it is worth striving for something, to attain something, but it's difficult to obtain. The theological virtues concern God Himself, and reaching God. Remember last night, Faith tells me that my end, my ultimate end is to see God face to face. So, to reach Him, exceeds man's natural capacities. Hope concerns two things which we seek, namely, the eternal beatitude, which is a proper and principal object of Hope, that is God Himself. So it is God that we hope to obtain one day, in which eternal beatitude consists because we see Him face to face, and for all eternity, we're happy.

Fr. Ripperger  1:03

The second thing we hope in is the divine aid that God will give us in order to reach that end. Since Hope concerns the attainment of God, which is completely beyond man's natural capacities, man needs God's aid in order to reach Him. We just can't do it on our own. He's got to help us. In fact, the distance between us and God is infinite, because He’s infinite, and we're finite. So there's this infinite gap between us. And He's the one that's got to bridge the gap. Since Hope concerns the attainment of God, which is completely beyond man's natural capacities, then man needs God's aid to reach Him, since with God’s aid we can attain heaven and Hope looks for or awaits the future good of eternal beatitude. So when I have Hope, I'm looking forward to attaining this thing. If I don't have Hope, I don't look forward to it. I just realize, well, Faith tells me it's there, but I'm just not going to reach it. This essentially means that the person who has Hope looks forward to receiving the beatific vision and actually waits for it. I can’t wait until I get it. If one has no Hope, then you're not going to wait for it.

Fr. Ripperger  2:17

Hope cannot be something in the bodily senses or faculties. In other words, it's not something like an emotion, because it has to transcend that. Now this observation is important because many seek some type of physical consolation regarding God, or make their Hope into something physical. For example, people often imagine some created  good which they will receive in heaven, and so they misplace their Hope in a created good rather than in an uncreated good; As with those that think that heaven consists of a never ending party.

Fr. Ripperger  2:46

So people place their hope in things that shouldn't be hoped for. Sometimes people think that hope has to do with God giving them rewards in this life, rather than Himself. That is, giving of Himself to us in the next. This is the problem of those who think that a sign of God's favor is the attainment of money. For instance, as we see among certain Jewish sects, and also among some Protestants, or when they think a sign of God's favor when they receive a charismatic gift. So they have hope when they receive this. That’s not, that is not the manifestation of God's favor necessarily. They think that Hope consists of God giving them these things, rather than placing their hope in God Himself.

Fr. Ripperger  3:30

This could have a profoundly negative spiritual effect, especially when a person does not attain the good that he thinks you should receive. So when he prays and he doesn't receive the charismatic grace, which of course are gratuitous gifts, God doesn't have to give them and our prayers cannot merit them, and Then when they don't receive them, people are a bit baffled. They think that there's something wrong with them. And then from this rises a dissonance between thinking that God provides for us and rewards those who are good and the fact that the person hasn’t received anything, even though he’s done all these good things. He was good. He didn't receive what he thought he should have received. And this cuts to the problem of God’s  providence and how God's providence functions. And it can affect one's Faith even.

Fr. Ripperger  4:15

Martin Luther thought that the sign of God's favor was sensible consolation. And since he received none, he tortured himself as to why. Why am I not getting these spiritual consolations? The moral of the story is that he was hoping for the wrong thing. You don’t hope for receiving the spiritual consolations. In fact, the more whole you become, the less spiritual consolation you get. It's that simple. Until you reach the transforming union. But that's the last stage in the spiritual life and very, very few people attain that, maybe just a handful in history have attained it. And then you have constant consolation. But that doesn't mean there's not suffering either. But between now and then, the higher you go, generally, the more God strips you of the consolations. And sometimes when people don't get the consolations, they start despairing because they think there's something wrong with them or God doesn't love me, because He’s not, you know, talking to me anymore. Because why do you think that?  Because I'm not getting these consolations anymore. You can't make that the principle of your judgment.

Fr. Ripperger  5:21

Hope is a virtue, which inclines the will, to seek after and await the reward of God Himself. So remember, Faith is in the intellect, and now, Hope is going to be in the will. This virtue is necessary, since it is not enough to have faith in God. That is to know that He speaks the truth, we must actually have a virtue which moves us to seek after Him. So it’s one thing to know, yeah, I know He’s telling the truth. It's another thing to pursue it.

Fr. Ripperger  5:47

People who are in the state of mortal sin habitually, will lose hope; Because they, because they're habitually living a life of sin, it becomes very, very difficult for them to do the good. And so they think, well, I just can't make it to heaven, even though they know through Faith that God can help them. Very often they're just not taking advantage of the grace that God sends them.

Fr. Ripperger  6:09

The certitude that we have in Hope  comes from the certitude of Faith. And what that means is, the stronger my Faith  is the more Hope I can have. Because my Faith is really strong, and I know God will provide for me, and I can will that and wait for that. And that is the virtue of Hope. Hence the more Faith we have, the greater the certitude regarding God's aid and therefore the more certain we are of attaining the beatific vision; That is, the more Hope we have. This is why we have to continue working on increasing our Faith, because that has a direct impact on our Hope.

Fr. Ripperger  6:48

Hope in the proper sense in the theological virtue is only in what the scholastics used to call the viatores. And what those are, those are people on the way between where they're at now, us in this life, and reaching heaven because we are on the way to going to God.

Fr. Ripperger  7:07

So it really pertains to Hope, it is really for those who are alive today. This follows from the fact that hope concerned an arduous future good, which is possible to obtain. If I can't obtain it, , then I don't have any hope in it And I realize it's just impossible then I'll lose hope. And we in this life can obtain God, Who is a possible future good that we could have. In other words, if I do everything that's necessary, and I die in the state of grace, then  I will attain God, through the beatific vision. For this reason, in a proper sense, those in heaven, do not have the virtue of hope any longer, since the object is no longer possible to obtain in the future, because they already have the beatific vision. So it's already present to them. It's not something future. In the broad sense however, Hope can be in those in heaven regarding us, for they can hope that we will reach heaven. So they kind of hope that God will provide the proper divine aid, so we actually reach heaven. But that's not Hope in the proper sense. It's rather just a recognition, in fact they even see in God that he's going to provide for us. So they don't necessarily have the theological virtue of Hope. Hope is not in  the damned, those who are in hell have no Hope. Because one it is contrary to their will, because they are in hell, where their wills are fixed in evil. So they want nothing to do with God Who is goodness itself. Once they're in hell they want to avoid God at all costs.  Part of that is because of the fact that they recognize the shame of the of their punishment, the shame of their sin, and the fact that their punishment is due to them. And also they don't want to have to stand in the sight of God because that accentuates their imperfection and they don't want to deal with that.

Fr. Ripperger  8:59

The second reason, there's no Hope in the damned is because they know that they cannot attain eternal Beatitude, so punishment is permanent. They will in fact, spend the rest of eternity in hell and they will never reach God. So they lose their hope , their hope is stripped from them once they die in a state of mortal sin. In one place St. Thomas observes that it is not a good thing to hope in human aid, either in oneself or another human being to reach eternal beatitude, and this is because human aid of its own nature, that is insofar as it’s strictly human, is incapable capable of producing, to get us to God who is this infinite distance from us.

Fr. Ripperger  9:40

So we must rely on divine aid not on human nature. That is necessary. Human beings as such, cannot save us. But St. Thomas also says that we can hope principally and primarily on God to help us to obtain eternal Beatitude. But we can also hope in man secondarily, through which we are aided by God who can help us to come to eternal Beatitude. In other words, God can use human beings as instruments, in order to aid us. So for instance, somebody who's dying, they might be in a state of mortal sin, they see a priest come, and they have a great deal of hope, as a result of it. We see this, we see of course, that we always have hope  that people like the saints and particularly Our Lady, who can give us the grace in order to save our souls, but she is a strictly an instrument. Of her own accord, she has no power. So what this means is, in the end, you don't really hope in the person because they're an instrument of God, but you're really hoping in God.

Fr. Ripperger  10:40

Along with St. Thomas, we can say that it is not possible to hope too much in God, we can’t have too much of it. But St. Thomas also notes that one can hope falsely in Divine aid, by not adhering to the divine aid or by false opinion. For example presuming one is saved, even though one persists in sin is a false hope. They said we hope in excess in that case, but not really because it's not true Hope. It’s here that we see that Hope is opposed to two vices, presumption and despair. Despair is the vice in which one does not believe rightly about God's ability to save someone, despairing in God's infinite power. Despair moves us to sorrow, repent, and look to Him for help sometimes. And sometimes if we don't look to God's infinite power, then it's a sin. Despair is the result of a person not awaiting the beatific vision anymore. Not awaiting God's aid because he just doesn't think that God's going to help him. Despair sometimes arises out of a sin in which a person thinks he is unforgivable. No sin is unforgivable save one, as I mentioned last night, final impenitence. Final impenitence is when one is dying, but he refuses the loving mercy of God, and the grace from the Holy Ghost to be moved to sorrow for one’s sins. The people despair because of their sins  when they should not. And this is often the case with women who have had abortions, or when a person commits a sin of which he, he did not think he was capable. You see that from time to time. People’s view of themselves sometimes really takes a beating, when they commit a sin that they really thought,  “you know that, that's just not me.”

Fr. Ripperger  12:31

Yea it is.

Fr. Ripperger  12:30

It’s just that you overestimated yourself and your pride, and pride comes before the fall. But you shouldn't despair. Just because you think that you've committed this evil, that doesn't mean God cannot forgive you. And Faith  teaches us that God can forgive us of every sin, again except for final impenitence.

Fr. Ripperger  12:54

Despair also rises out of spiritual sloth. Why? Well, the reason is because the person despairs because he doesn't think he can be lifted to a higher good.  In other words, sloth is the vice of which a person doesn't want to pursue the arduous good or something that's difficult, because he would rather just stay in his complacency and the thing that's easy. And that applies to most people laboring under original sin. Most people suffer from spiritual sloth. It is something that really has to be overcome. And it comes through a certain resolution of will. You just say to  yourself, from now on anytime any grace comes to me, I'm going to be faithful to it, I'm gonna hold on to it, I'm going to do it, do what the grace is inclining me to do, and you just do it. But you have to have a resolution of will. Otherwise you're going to end up in spiritual sloth. You’ll get the grace for a thing and you say, “Ah I’d really rather not pray, I’ll just go watch TV for a while.”

Fr. Ripperger  13:49

Despair can also come from things such as lust, or love of venereal delights. And this occurs because the person gets so fixated and controlled by their desire that arises from lust that they don't think they can get over it. Because it's so binding, it’s so strong, it has such a powerful control over them. With sloth, the person simply doesn't think he can perform the actions necessary to cooperate with God, with God's aid to reach heaven.

Fr. Ripperger  14:24

Spiritual sloth is a sorrow. When they see spiritual goods it causes some pain, because they realize, “No, no, now I’m going to have to suffer if I do the right thing.” And so, they have this kind of sorrow of the spiritual goods because they are arduous and difficult, so the person despairs, because it seems to be impossible for him to overcome it. This, you know, this kind of the lack of ability to move. Spiritual sloth makes one sorrow of the spiritual good. St. Thomas says because they are seen as evil. Now think about that, spiritual goods are seen as evil. They are seen to be contrary to the pleasure of doing nothing in our spiritual lives, or spiritual goods are seen as contrary to the disordered attachment, which we have to the pleasure of created goods. So you see this with people who become very entrapped in their attachments to created order. They become rather inimical to anything that has to do with religion, or God, because they, this is why people are so hostile. This is why  you see people in the media and elsewhere, so hostile to the Catholic Church, and anything that has to do with God. Because it means that they recognize that there are these goods, but they're gonna cause me pain, so I gotta get rid of them. Spiritual goods offer requires suffering, pain and difficulty in order to obtain. And for this reason, those in spiritual sloth simply lose hope in attaining God, which requires effort because they do not want to be separated from their creative goods. This is why you have heard me say, on a number of occasions, that you have to have a detachment from every creative good. Any attachment that takes over your life can lead to despair. And this is one of the reasons why the saints, St. John of the Cross, preeminently among them, but of course all the saints have said you have got to let go of created goods. Because if you don't, it can get between you and God and if you're not careful, it can lead to your spiritual demise. So you gotta let loose of them.

Fr. Ripperger  16:30

The vice of presumption, which is different from despair, provides that presumption presumes on one's own ability, without divine aid to reach eternal Beatitude, for God Himself. So despair doesn't think that even with God's aid, I can  get to heaven. Presumption thinks I don't even need God's aid to get to heaven. This is the sin of the Pelagians and other Gnostic sects and even some Protestant sects. They thought they could merit first grace, and get to heaven on their own. Now, first grace is a theological term, which the Scholastics give for when a person goes from being in the state of mortal sin, to the state of grace. So in that particular case, they think that we can just merit if we do something, we merit grace in that state. But the Council of Trent makes it very clear that we are utterly incapable of meriting this grace because God does not owe sanctifying grace to us when we're in a state of mortal sin. And we have no means of meriting it. Even through sorrow, even if we're sorry for our sins, that’s not enough.

Fr. Ripperger  17:40

In fact, what most people don't realize is that when a person is in the state of mortal sin, they're incapable of meriting anything in the eyes of God. They might do good works, but they're not meritorious. Why? Because in order to merit, that means that somehow God should give you something for it, it has to be proportionate to Him in some way. It has to be supernatural. And that can only come when we're in a state of grace. And when we're in the state of grace, then our actions take on a supernatural dimension because this grace, sanctifying grace is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, or the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in us. And so we've become supernaturalized as a result of it. So once we're in the state of grace, then we can merit grace, then we can merit things and that's called, those extra graces that we merit are called second graces. The first grace we’re utterly incapable of meriting on our own. And presumption is the sin which thinks, “well, I can get this on my own. Oh, I don't need God's aid.”

Fr. Ripperger  18:46

What happens is that even when we make an act of perfect contrition, in the strict sense, God owes us nothing in justice, even when we make a perfect act of contrition. All it means is, is that He said, if you are sorry for your sins, then I will restore you to grace. But that means that if a person makes a perfect act of contrition, they become disposed, they meet God's requirement. And then because He's faithful to His word, and not as a matter of justice, but because He's faithful to His word, He gives us grace back. It's the same thing in Confession. The sorrow is the necessary disposition. It's not the merit, there's no merit in sorrow when in the state of mortal sin. There is merit with sorrow when you're in the state of grace. But when you're in the state of mortal sin, there's no merit. And so the person who thinks they can attain Heaven, by being in a state of mortal sin is a bit diluted. We also see presumption among those who commit a mortal sin and think to themselves, “I’ll just go to confession tomorrow.” How do you know that?

Fr. Ripperger  19:55

How do you know that God’s not going to deliver you up to your appetites, like St. Paul said in one of his epistles regarding certain people. He said God delivered them up to their appetites, and he gives a whole list of things that they ended up doing as a result of it. Because it may happen that something could happen after you commit a mortal sin and you decide not to go to Confession. You can't even turn back to God without actual grace, He doesn’t owe you actual grace when you’re in a state of mortal sin either. So you have no grounds for presumption. 

Fr. Ripperger  20:24

Our sorrow at sin is only the condition in which God says He will give us grace back, as I mentioned. And that's because He’s so generous. Presumption is caused directly by pride, which is the overestimation of one's good or excellence. One thinks himself more than merely human or he overestimates the good or excellence of human nature. This is a sin of our modern age. We tend to think that we are so wonderful. We are so infatuated with ourselves. And we're so solipsistic these days. We have talked about it on many other occasions, it's basically the sin of Immanentism. In which people are so hung up on themselves that they, they themselves are always the principal judgment of everything they ever do. And we're so infatuated, we think ourselves so good that we can just attain these things on our own, we can get to heaven on our own. Uh-uh, we’re incapable of it, especially after the fall. And if we're in the state of mortal sin, we're not going to get anywhere. This is the sin of the modern age, as I mentioned. Presumption is also caused by what St. Thomas calls inane glory, since one desires of glory, which is above his own natural power’s capability of reaching.

Fr. Ripperger  21:34

Glory is the result that we get from having some excellence. And so, some people think they are so excellent that they can attain this, the beatific vision on their own without any work on the side of God. And so they think themselves so wonderful. And so they think that it’s due to them. But this is presumption, and you're not going to make it to heaven on presumption.

Fr. Ripperger  21:58

Hope moves us to seek God as our end. So we will not seek after created goods. As a result there is a first sorrow, which arises when we do not get what we want. In other words, the person who becomes detached from creating goods, and places all of his hope in God is a happier person, because you can trust in a source, it's never going to fail. If what we want is God alone, our earthly life is seen as something to give glory to God, rather than an end in itself, after which we should seek. Even ourselves are not ends in themselves, in the sense that God created us, for His sake, not so much for ours. I mean, He did create it for us but in creating it for us, He actually created It for Him.  We’ll see that when we get to the order of Charity tomorrow night. It’s a very important rule. It’s founded upon what we talked about in Faith, which will see when we get there.

Fr. Ripperger  22:58

So Hope moves us to see that what we do in this life has a great import so we will not be taking a careless, or over attached view to this life. Some people go through life doing nothing. But hope motivates us and tells us to do something. You know what that means, Hope tells me that,  “If I can get to Heaven then I can also get a higher place in Heaven if I do these good things.” In effect, Hope provides us with a balanced view of this life. Because it helps us to realize, “it’s passing. I’m gonna die.” You had better have awaited some good, which can only come through the Virtue of Hope in waiting on God because God is the only one that can really provide for us with the true good.

Fr. Ripperger  23:41

So Hope is the infused virtue which motivates a person to pursue God alone. And it also moves us to depend upon God's power alone, to save us and to bring us to heaven. And it doesn't mean we just don't do anything. The person doesn't just sit there not doing anything as the person says, “I'm just hoping in God.” Well, you gotta do your part too. But it means that if we can cooperate with God's grace, we can actually get to heaven and see Him face to face.

Fr. Ripperger  24:03

We’ve already discussed despair and presumption, which are two sins against Hope, but there are other sins against Hope. Sometimes people lack confidence in the power of God's grace to support us in trouble, or during a time of temptation. So they fail to turn to God when they need help. Now, I think this is an important point. Because many of us, particularly those in the Traditional movement, don't have a lot of Hope. It’s because they look around, they see all the negative things in the Church and in the world and they think, “things are bad... are bad... things are bad.” Yes, they are bad. But what they fail to realize is that because God is infinitely powerful, through a single act of His own, which on His side is nothing, He could transform the entire world into perfection instantaneously, without hardly any effort on His part whatsoever. But He’s not. He's not doing it because He’s teaching us a lesson. He's teaching us a lesson that without Him, without depending on Him,  without the Virtue of Hope, this is what man will fall into. This is what man will become. If you try to depend on yourselves, this is the product you're going to see and that's one of the principal things He’s trying to teach us. So instead of looking at the world and the Church and seeing how bad it is and saying, “I'm losing hope”, rather it should tell us, “No! This aside, I've got to Hope more in God.” We should be hoping more in God and quit relying on ourselves to solve our problems.

Fr. Ripperger  25:41

There is also the sin of not desiring to possess eternal happiness in heaven, or after this earthly life. Some people just go, “No, that's what Heaven is but I'm just not interested.” Well what are you interested in? “Oh, I don't know. Nothing.” Which seems to be kind of a problem with the younger generation more than the older, although they're getting older too. So it's becoming a problem. But some people just don't seem motivated at all.

Fr. Ripperger  25:58

Sometimes people engage in superstitious practices in order to continue in sin as we discussed a little bit, but this also pertains to the sin against Hope as well. For example, you see some people using the Scapular thinking that its use will save them, even though they continue to engage in mortal sin. The right use of the scapular is obviously good and a holy thing because it is also a means of divine aid. It’s is an instrument.

Fr. Ripperger  26:27

But like every other instrument that has its use, a specific use, and you can't use it the wrong way and hope to attain what you think. You have to use it in the way that God intended and for that we have to have the virtue of devotion. We have to use it devoutly, recognizing that it has a proper use and that it is a means of instrumentation for our salvation in relationship to God. That means that you have to be doing your part, no committing mortal sin. If you're going to take advantage of that, how the Scapular is going to help you, you gotta to stay out of mortal sin.

Fr. Ripperger  26:56

And then you see those dwelling on the problems of the world excessively, which I mentioned. And this can foster a negative opinion. In other words, they can kind of fall into a sin of negativity, if you will. They become so fixated on everything that is bad. And I mentioned the other counterpart, we should look at it from the virtue of Hope, that we can sin against the Virtue of Hope by just becoming so fixated on everything being so negative, and it can start affecting people's spiritual life. It starts  dragging them down. This is why I said  some time ago at St. Francis in Lincoln; And I said if these things are getting to you, then you have got to get away from them, you got to start ignoring them. Quit reading them. If it’s starting to affect your Faith, ignore it. And the same applies to Hope. You can even say to Charity, because sometimes we can get so fixed on the negative, that they become so caught up in their own mind that they're incapable of even treating people charitably. And that's what Satan wants. He wants you to lose Faith, lose Hope, lose Charity by being caught up in how bad everything is.

Fr. Ripperger  27:52

So how do we increase Hope? Well, the first is by making acts of Hope, just as we do with the acts of Faith. So I mentioned last night, you can get these manuals of prayer that have acts of Hope in them. Get some of the older ones, because the formulation is a little bit better, a little clearer, and they excite devotion a little bit more, at least that's been my experience.

Fr. Ripperger  28:11

You can also make ejaculations throughout the course of the day such as, “”Jesus, I hope in Thee.” Or “Jesus I trust in Thee.” And so you can make these and and by doing that, we dispose ourselves to an increase of Hope. Hope, is like Faith, we can't cause it. And so as a result, God has to cause it. All we can do is dispose ourselves to the greater reception of it. And how do we do that? By performing acts that are in congruity with the nature of Hope. We pray for Hope. And then that disposes towards greater reception and then God infuses more in us.

Fr. Ripperger  28:44

We can also, by prayer, bring ourselves closer to God. That is, we're more in the presence of God. And so because He’s more there to us, God, because we're praying to Him all the time, then we tend to have more Hope, because He’s always in our mind. If we don't think about God, we just ignore it all the time, then we're going to start losing our Hope because of the fact that He’s  just not there. Whereas if He is there and He’s always in the back of my mind, then He can help me if I'm in real need.

Fr. Ripperger  29:18

We can do prayer, suffering and good works. Not necessarily prayers in the sense that we’re praying specifically for Hope but we can pray for other people and then offering that up for an increase of Hope. But you can also do sufferings and good works, with the intention of increasing Hope. And then there's a certain merit in that.

Fr. Ripperger  29:37

Remember what I said, if you're in the state of grace, you can merit an increase in grace, you know, the second grace, when you’re in state of grace you can merit more graces and the same applies to the Virtues of Hope , and Charity and also to Faith. You can merit an increase by doing good works in order, when you're in the state of grace, offering that up for that intention, you can actually merit an increase in that virtue, and then God will give it too. So you need to do that as well.

Fr. Ripperger  30:04

You can also study the history of the Church which was full of examples of God and the saints coming to man’s aid in the hour of their need. I mean, when you see the history of the Catholic Church, the marvelousness of it all, it's just magnificent. And you see that, even in the darkest hour, God seems to, kind of let man get to a point where he thinks, you know, “we're doomed”. And then He snatches us out of the jaws of defeat, so to speak. And it's very important for us to learn more about the history of the Church to see that God is guiding it, and it is infallible. I mean, that's one of the things that, at least for me, is one of the greatest signs of Hope.  That  the church is infallible. And if you of course today, because of the difficulties, the theological difficulties which are floating around out there, you have to have a very precise understanding of how infallibility works. But if you know that, precisely how infallibility works in the Church, you recognize that the Church has never violated anything that has to do with infallible teaching. In other words, the Church has never said anything infallibly that’s wrong. And that's a great sign of Hope, because when you see people saying things that are a little strange, they’re not employing infallibility so I never work at it. As soon as I hear something strange or novel, the first thing I do is I look at the conditions and I see that it’s not infallible. It doesn’t mean that you can dismiss it offhand, but it means that we shouldn't worry so much about it because God is still providing for the Church in that regard.

Fr. Ripperger  31:32

You have to stop listening to how bad everything is. And this also means that while you still have to have a certain knowledge, you have to be prudent. You do have to have a knowledge of it. You know, things are bad. Because if you don't (have a knowledge of it)’re going to get sucked into it. But at the same time, don't spend too much time on it, you have to be prudent.

Fr. Ripperger  31:51

Avoid negative people who have no Hope, who all they want to do is bring you down. You see that all the time, you know, there's some people that their whole life is worked on, tearing other people down, and just avoid them, because they themselves apparently don't have too much Hope.

Fr. Ripperger  32:10

Stop habitually sinning. Habitual mortal sin leads to despair. And habitual venial sin gives one doubts about one's preparedness to face the spiritual battles at the time of death. This is why the saints say that the first step, the first step in the spiritual life, not the last, is for a person is to stop sinning. You have to stop sinning. And that is quite important, because if you stop sinning, then you realize that you're starting to take on the proper virtues and dispositions. You’re becoming a greater instrument to God. And as a result, when it comes time to your death, you're going to have the virtues to be able to withstand it; you'll be depending upon God more. Whereas even if you're falling into habitual venial sin all the time, it’s a sign to you, “ that you know, I don't depend on God, I can really lose this if I’m not careful.”

Fr. Ripperger  33:05

Get in the habit of receiving the sacraments regularly, particularly Confession and the Holy Eucharist. Because those increase our grace, especially confession which helps us to, to rely on the mercy of God. And so as a result, we will tend to be more hopeful because we can Hope in God's mercy because as we go to confession, we kind of get into a frame of mind that if I turn to God and I'm sorry then He’ll help me. So I get into that habit of depending upon God's aid and so regular Confession instills a certain Hope in  people. I think that one of the principal reasons why God has the sacrament of Confession is to make sure that we always have Hope.

Fr. Ripperger  33:42

We have to develop the devotion to the Holy Ghost for the infusion of the gifts.  One of which is Council. And the gift of counsel is the disposition which God infuses in our soul, so that we will be inclined to know what the right thing to do is at the right time. In other words, God infuses this into us and when we get into a situation that, you know, we're like, “Well, what do I do here?” Then He can move us through that disposition, “Do this.” And so we will be inclined to do the right thing.

Fr. Ripperger  34:12

Because there are times in our spiritual lives where our own ingenuity and even, you know, the infused virtues of Hope, and Faith aren't enough. We need something even beyond that. And that's called the gift of counsel because God has to give us knowledge in this particular situation; such as “Don’t do this is. It’s going to be harmful to you.”

Fr. Ripperger  34:33

We can also pray for the gift of fortitude. And this is also a gift in which God infuses into us, which gives us a spiritual strength to fight the spiritual battle. So we have counsel by which we will know the right thing to do, and fortitude will motivate us to avoid the wrong thing and to not to do it and to help us fight this spiritual fight.

Fr. Ripperger  34:50

So if we can come to depend more on the Holy Ghost to incline us to do the right things, and we have a strong devotion to Him, that as a result our Hope will increase. We will recognize, you know, “If I just keep depending on God, as I'm doing, I'll be okay and  I’m getting in the habit of doing this, so it's easier for me to do this. So it’s looking pretty good for me.” It doesn't mean that a person starts relying on themselves , it just means that through God's grace, they're getting to the point where they're being more efficacious instrument, even for their own salvation.

Fr. Ripperger  35:22

We can develop a devotion to Our Lady, who does not want to lose any of her spiritual children. This is one of the reasons why I encourage people to make the consecration, the total consecration according to the mind of St. Luis de Montfort, among other reasons. Because once you make that (The total consecration) the person recognizes and declares (to Our Lady) that I’m your  property, I’m your slave. And so in the end when it comes time for you to die, you can tell Our Lady, “claim your property, you know I'm yours, come and get me..” But also, we see that devotions to Our Lady and to the Rosary are signs of our predestination. If we're saying the rosary every single day, that's a good sign, we're going to end up in heaven and that gives us a great deal of hope because we recognize God's helping me out here. And in the end, because this is a sign of predestination, “I might be saved, I'm probably going to be saved.”

Fr. Ripperger  36:16

We should also develop a devotion to the Sacred Heart, which is the devotion of mercy. It is Divine Mercy, which is the foundation for all our Hope when we consider all of the sins which we have committed in the past. Now, there is a very fundamentally flawed understanding of God's mercy today. People think that God is so merciful, it doesn't matter what they do, God is so merciful that he could never damn anybody to hell. But guess what? Christ already told us there were people in Hell, and it's clear in the New Testament. And it's also kind of some what clear the Old Testament. But it's very clear in the New Testament, that there are people in hell. And we don't know how many. But the fact of the matter is, is that people are going to go there if we're not careful.

Fr. Ripperger  37:02

Mercy is the virtue by which a person lets loose of the strict requirements of justice, for the good of the individual or of the common good. So for example, if a judge recognizes that a particular person who has committed a crime comes before them, that if he holds to the strict letter of the law, it will be harmful to the common good, that is to people outside this individual, and even to the individual itself; he is not going to be reformed. And so he'll loosen up on the application of the strict justice of law for the good of the individual. But if in justice it would be better for the individual to have a strict application of justice, then the just and virtuous judge will apply it that way. And that's the way God is. God's mercy and His justice, in God are identical. They are the same thing. Most people don't realize this. For us, we have to think of them differently justice is, you get punished; mercy and they don't get punished. Well, it's not exactly that way. Why? Well, first of all, every attribute in God is one because God is absolutely simple. That's what the Catholic Church teaches us. But to look at this a little bit more theologically , so we have a better grasp of it, when  God shows mercy to us, because we're sorry, He recognizes because of our sorrow, it would be better for us, for Him to give us the spiritual gifts to restore us to the order of grace, then  to just let us hang. Because ultimately, we have to remember God made us for His glory. So when we fall into sin, He still wants us there for His glory. And now He’s going to get glory out of you whether you like it or not. He's either going to get it out of you because you manifest His glory, because you're in the state of grace, and you attain a certain sanctified perfection, which is an excellence in grace and the adornment of the soul with all of the virtues. That’s the definition of sanctifying grace. You can give Him glory that way, or you’re going to give glory to Him by people being able to look and see how just He is in damning you. And that's just how it works.

Fr. Ripperger  39:17

But back to the mercy and justice thing. The term for Mercy in Latin is justitia and it means “rights”. That is, you render someone something that is due because of a certain equality of the people that are involved in the process. Now what happens is when God has mercy on us, and then infuses sanctifying grace into us, we get to partake in His divine nature; And we become like, we're not exactly equals obviously, but we become like equals to Him. And as a result, we can then render justice to Him. So what's the point? His mercy is in fact, a means by which He can restore us to a state by which we can render Him justice.

Fr. Ripperger  40:04

And that's an important point because too many people think that, you know, “I can do whatever I want, I can be sinful, and God will be merciful.”

Fr. Ripperger  40:12

Yeah but He is also just. He might be infinitely merciful but He’s also infinitely just. His mercy is ordered towards you being perfect. That's what it's there for. And so God's mercy, I always tell people, comes to two kinds of individuals, the  dumb and the sorrowful. Now the reason that it comes to dumb people or stupid people, is because God looks at them and says, “oh boy, you're stupid, so I'm not gonna hold that against you.” So He doesn't apply the strict justice of the law because of the fact that we're not culpable in a certain sense, because we're so stupid. Now that applies to all of us to some degree or another. We're all pretty stupid, Original Sin really dumbed us down. Adam and Eve were so intelligent, we're talking about IQ’s on the order of three to 400, not just 200 that we see now every now and then but with the three or 400 IQ, we're talking about possessing the ability of walking up to a car, spending a minute looking at it and understanding virtually everything there is to know about the car in a minute. That's how intelligent, we are talking about. Adam and Eve were made just a little bit lower than the angels, as it says in the Old Testament; and the angels have all the infused knowledge of all the nature's of everything that exists, which means that Adam and Eve’s intelligence was extreme. Look at us, we grope around just to figure out where our laundry list is. And it's a sign that we are just exceedingly dumbed down. It's a sign of God's mercy too. Can you imagine having that kind of intelligence and being wicked at the same time? We would make Hitler look pathetic. And this is why in a certain sense, even being dumb is a sign of God’s mercy to a degree. But at the same time, now here we are not talking about volitional ignorance; and if we are ignorant of something, and  we know that we're ignorant and we don't take any means to overcome it, then we're going to be culpable for the things we do in our ignorance. Because again, this is why the Church teaches us, we have to continue educating ourselves according to the Faith, according to our state in life. We have to continue doing that.

Fr. Ripperger  42:21

But the mercy also comes to those who are sorrowful. Those are the only two people that get mercy. Mercy is for the contrite. It is very clear in Scripture. God says this is who's going to get mercy, the Church says this is who's going to get mercy. If you're not sorry for your sin, you're not going to get any mercy. And that's why you have to work on being habitually sorry for your sins. And then if you are habitually sorry for your sins, and you're constantly making use of God's mercy, then the virtue of Hope increases in you; because you recognize that if I get into the habit of being sorry for these things, if I always try and be sorry to God.... then if I do something really bad, when I am dying, on my deathbed, I'll be sorry for these sins and God will have mercy on me. And that'll be the means of Him, saving me.

Fr. Ripperger  43:08

Nobody gets into heaven without being sorry for the sins of their past life. And even if you get into heaven before the final resurrection, even when you get into heaven, there is going to be shame when you have to stand before God and have to account for everything. You know, a lot of people have this idea, I don't mean to go off on too much of a tangent.... To recognize this, I'll tell you how merciful or how just God is and also how merciful. When you die, and we all rise again, from the dead, we get our bodies back, and we have to stand before God in this valley, all of us are going to assemble. And then one by one, we're going to stand in front of everybody else in front of Christ. And He is going to tell everybody, everything we ever did. Everybody, everything we ever did. He has a right as the public authority of the whole universe, to have public vindication for every infraction of His law. He has that right. Every time we commit a sin, we violate His rights, and He has a right to that public vindication and He’s going to get it. So what does this mean? Well if you're on the side of the angels when this all happens, there will be a bit of shame but at the same time, the person will recognize how utterly merciful God was and despite all this, He (God) brought him to heaven, He perfected him. He's in heaven now, he sees God face to face. And so for the damned, all they experience is the harshness of God's justice. But for the just, they only experience in a certain sense, even though they experience God's justice of course, but they're experience it (God’s Justice)  more principally on the Day of Judgment, is His mercy. And that's the Hope we can have. The Hope is that God will provide for us, and if we hold on to His mercy, He’ll give us everything we need in order to get to heaven.

Fr. Ripperger  45:03

Again, God is infinitely merciful. There's no sin that we have committed that God can't forgive. You know, sometimes people say, “Well, I just, you know, I'm really afraid to go to confession because if I go to confession I worry about what the priest’s going to say.” I've even seen people harbor sins for years, then they go to Confession, invalid Confessions, because they're not sorry, because they will withhold mortal sins, because they're ashamed of them. Trust me, every priest within the first month of his confession has heard virtually every sin that a person can commit. But the point is, is that it doesn't matter. There's always somebody out there who's probably done something worse. And even if you've done the worst possible thing that you could imagine, it doesn't matter. God's mercy is even greater than that.

Fr. Ripperger  45:47

So we can develop a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart, which is the devotion of mercy. In one of the petitions of the Litany of the Sacred Heart, we see, “Heart of Jesus, Most patient and most merciful.” 

Fr. Ripperger  46:01

One of the ways we can increase our attachment to God's mercy is by praying the divine chaplet, and make acts of reparation because if God has nothing against us when we die, because we’ve made reparation for everything that we've done, then He will be more inclined to take us into His heavenly company. And this is one of the reasons why you know, you can commit sins, you go to confession, that doesn't mean it's over, you still have to make reparation for what you've done. You know, if I steal 50 cents from somebody, and I say I'm sorry, but I'm still holding on to the 50 cents then it’s not good enough. I have got to give the 50 cents back. The same thing applies to God, I've got to get back to Him. Everything that's due to him and that means that I need to make reparation. But if I make reparation, God will look more pleasing on me and see that I am trying to be just to Him, and therefore He’s more likely to take me into heaven.

Fr. Ripperger  46:53

We also read in the Litany, “heart of Jesus for goodness and love.” He wants us to be in heaven, He is just waiting for us to be in heaven. You know, God is love itself. You've heard me, some of you heard me preach that, “okay, God's love, a purifying love, which means if you love, the first thing it does is make your life miserable.” But that's only because He’s trying to purify you and make you holy. But what God ultimately wants for us is to be perfect. So that when we experience Him, we will experience pure love. Because you have to remember, when the Father and the Son look at each other, they see that each other is infinitely good. And then they love each other infinitely, and that generates the Holy Ghost. In fact, the Holy Ghost is the love between the Father and the Son. God is pure love. So that when we see Him, we see pure love. And we see how that extends to us and how we're not worthy to see pure love and to experience pure love, if we ourselves have any defect whatsoever, because we're not pure. It's not appropriate to love what is evil. And so we need to be purified. That's why there's purgatory. But that's also one of the great signs of Hope, that  God loves us, He’s really trying to get us to heaven. But that also means that His love is not you know, it's not a sappy, sentimental thing. It's a purifying thing. And it's purifying because He wants us to be holy, so we can have a better chance of getting into heaven.

Fr. Ripperger  48:30

We also see in the Litany, “Heart of Jesus, font of all consolations”. No matter how bad your life has been, no matter how difficult Your life is now, Christ can console you, which is a great sign of hope. Not that we should be looking for consolations, but to recognize that even if it gets bad, if it gets to the point that I can’t handle, then God will send me some form of consolation to deal to deal with this.

Fr. Ripperger  48:55

We also read, “Heart of Jesus salvation of those who trust in Thee.” So if we become habituated in trusting in God and not trusting in ourselves, then we're more likely to obtain salvation and again, that will increase our Hope.

Fr. Ripperger  49:10

“Heart of Jesus, Hope of those who die in Thee”, is another thing that we read. And this is quite an important point, because you can't get to heaven unless you die with Christ. That's all there is to it. Therefore, one of the principal ways that you can increase your Hope is to pray for the grace of final penitence, and then turn to Christ in your last hour and place your trust in Him alone. Get into that habit. And if you do that, then you'll have a greater sign of Hope.

Fr. Ripperger  49:44

One of the last signs of Hope, is perfect Charity. And we'll see what Charity is tomorrow night. But the more charitable a person is, the more that person loves God, the more they cannot imagine themselves being separated from Him. And so they will do everything within their power to make sure they stay out of sin. So pray for Charity, which we will bring up tomorrow night. 

© 2019, Fr. Chad Ripperger - All Rights Reserved. 

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Fr. Ripperger’s conference on the Theological Virtue of Faith can be listened to by clicking on the video below. The transcript of this post comes from this video from the Sensus Fidelium YouTube channel.

Continuation with the series on the theological virtues. This lecture is on Hope. 

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