Presence of God – O Jesus, I place all my hope for the souls that You have entrusted to me, in Your power, in Your infinite love, and in Your Passion.
In his work the apostle needs to be sustained by a strong hope. The moments of enthusiasm are brief, success is quickly followed by failure, difficulties are numerous, the struggle waged by enemy forces is sharp and incessant, and if the apostle is not firmly anchored in God by solid theological hope, he will end, sooner or later, by giving up the enterprise in discouragement. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), Jesus declared, and sending the apostles to continue His victorious mission, He assured them, “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:20). The foundation of apostolic hope is the victory of Christ and His continual help. Yes, He is with us all days, even on the dark days, when the horizon is black without a ray of light, when the enemy triumphs, when our friends forsake us, and when, humanly speaking, one does not see any possibility of success. If we had to rely upon our own resources, our ability, our works, we should have every reason to give up in despair; this, however, is not the case. We hope and we are certain in our hope, because God is omnipotent, because He wills all men to be saved, because Christ has redeemed us with His Precious Blood, and because He has died for us and for us has risen again; and finally, because His promises—the promises of a God—are infallible: “Heaven and earth shall pass, but My words shall not pass” (Matthew 24:35).
Relying on the salvific will of God, on His infinite power, and on the redemption of Christ, the apostle should nourish the certain hope that grace will triumph in the end. But at the same time, he should have no delusions; he should realize that he will not attain victory except by passing through Calvary. “Neither is the apostle greater than He that sent him” (John 13:16). If Jesus reached the triumph of the Resurrection only after His Passion and most painful death, the apostle cannot seek another way. For him also, there will necessarily come hours of darkness, but rather than being a sign of defeat, they will be the prelude to victory; rather than being a sign of abandonment on the part of God, they will be a proof that God is with him, precisely because He is leading him by the very same way along which He led His divine Son.
“O Lord, I wish to draw down Your mercy on this poor world, not only by the generosity of my sacrifice and my detachment but also by the generosity of my confidence. I want to believe against all evidence, hope against all hope; I want to believe with unshakable confidence, even when things seem to become ever more painful and difficult to resolve. I want to touch Your heart, O Lord, by the firmness and generosity of my confidence!
“I know and firmly believe that You love me, that You permit all for Your greater glory and for my greater good; I know that I can cooperate in the salvation of souls, and that the sufferings of time have no proportion with future glory; I know that to become a saint it is necessary to suffer much and that one reaches pure love through pure suffering; I know that all is possible to me in You, who are my support. Even if I were fatigued, oppressed by darkness, anguish, and agony, by looking at You, O Jesus Crucified, I should always taste an intimate supernatural joy, since You admit me to share Your sufferings in order to conform me to Your Passion and to permit me one day to participate in Your glory.
“I can always rejoice in the face of any suffering, humiliation, trial, interior or exterior pain, by reflecting that You, O Jesus, do me the honor of inviting me to participate in Your Passion, in Your redemptive work for souls. Therefore, far from considering these sorrows as evils, teach me to embrace them and to welcome them as favors and precious means for my sanctification, vivifying them through love and a peaceful, total adherence to Your will. O Lord, it is in this spirit that I intend to offer You my prayer, my mortification, my daily renunciation, my continual acceptance of the sufferings You send me, to draw down graces on the whole Church and to save souls” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.).
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Art for this post on apostolic hope: Crucifixion, Anthony van Dyck, circa 1622, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.