Hope against Hope
The three theological virtues – Faith, Hope, and Charity – are what distinguish Christianity from natural “virtues.” They are not easy to practice, or even to understand. But as the great Charles Péguy has God say in his long poem The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, “Faith doesn’t surprise me. . . .I am so resplendent in my creation. . . .Charity does not surprise me. . . .These poor creatures are so miserable that unless they had a heart of stone, how could they not have love for each other.”
Most people, however, even forget that Hope is a theological virtue, which is strange because, as Péguy’s God rightly says:
But Hope. . .that is something that surprises me.
Even me. . . .
That these poor children see how things are going and believe that tomorrow things will
go better. . .
That is surprising and it’s by far the greatest marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.
Péguy (b. 1873) was almost an exact contemporary of G.K. Chesterton’s (b. 1874), and in several respects was the French Chesterton. GKC would no doubt have enjoyed this God with a sense of humor about His special graces in Creation. Strictly speaking, of course, God cannot be “surprised.” Yet there’s a great truth here about the eternally “surprising” nature of Hope – real Hope – as we begin 2021, with all the hopes and fears, true and false, that arise before the virginal space of another year.