In the Rosary books our family uses, the short prayer before the second Glorious Mystery, the Ascension, is this: "I desire the virue of hope. Think of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, forty days after His glorious Resurrection, in the presence of Mary and His disciples."
When we pray that decade of the Glorious Mysteries, we think about how Christ rose from the dead and then forty days later ascended into Heaven. We remember that He died for us, He died on the Cross so that our sins could be forgiven--and because He did so, the gates of Heaven, where He sits now at the right hand of His Father, were opened for us, too. So though we often stumble and fall here while we're struggling to stay on the right path, when we think of the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven--where He awaits us at the end of our own earthly lives--we can be filled with hope.I've been thinking about the virtue of hope lately, especially after reading The Diary of a Young Girl. I know I've been talking about Anne Frank a lot since my recent trip to Amsterdam, but I can't seem to get her out of my mind. If there was ever a human being who should have been filled with utter despair every minute, it was that poor child. Yet she didn't lose hope. Just listen to what she wrote in her diary on May 4, 1944, when she'd been living in the Secret Annex for just shy of two years: " I've often been down in the dumps, but never desperate. I look upon our life in hiding as an interesting adventure, full of danger and romance, and every privation as an amusing addition to my diary...What I'm experiencing here is a good beginning to an interesting life, and that's the reason--the only reason--why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments. I'm young and have many hidden qualities; I'm young and strong and living through a big adventure; I'm right in the middle of it and can't spend all day complaining because it's impossible to have any fun! I'm blessed with many things: happiness, a cheeful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?"
Wow, huh? It kind of makes me ashamed of the times I've allowed myself to be filled with despair (even briefly) when faced with some hardship or seemingly insurmountable stumbling block. With all the blessings that have been showered upon me and my family, how could I ever waste even one second of my life feeling "down in the dumps"? But there's the human condition for you: we are flawed and weak, and without the grace of God, we'd be lost. But because of Our Lord, and the sacrifice He made for us, we never need to lose hope.