Saint Augustine

We speak shortly of our hope. And certainly the words of our discourse will end by taking time into account: but hope in itself, which is the subject of discourse, must endure and not end with our saying.

Hope in Saint Augustine

We can talk and we can stop talking; hope always cries to God. But also our hope - it will be hard what I say, but it can not hurt if I have clarified why, and I believe it will not be impacting - but our hope will not last for eternity. In fact, with the arrival of reality, hope will no longer exist; Naturally, for so long, one speaks of hope until one possesses reality, according to what the Apostle says: But the hope of what is seen is no longer inexperience: in fact, what one already sees, how does he hope? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with perseverance.

If, therefore, the hope of what is seen is no longer hope, precisely what one already sees, how does he hope? And it is called hope precisely because we hope for what we do not see; when reality is to be vision, hope will no longer be, for it will be reality. Nor will it be a curse to be hopeless, but for those who are hopeless in the present, it is a curse and a shame. And woe to him who is now without hope: for it is an evil to be without hope, because reality is not yet; then, when reality is possessed, it will cease to be hope.


But what is the reality itself of which you will have possession? What is that which will take the place of hope? Now we note that men hope for many things concerning this earth and, in the sphere to the of life according world, the very existence of every man does not lack hope; indeed, until death, each is not without hope; hope in children: to grow, to learn something; hope in adolescents: to take a wife, to raise children; hope in the parents of the children: to raise them, to teach them, to see adults who fondled children; just to refer to the original hope of man as the most unnatural, the most incomprehensible, the most frequent.

In fact, many are vulgar hopes, very reprehensible; but let us stick to this which is honest and natural. In fact each one is born for this: for the growth, for the marriage, for the offspring, for the education of it and also for being called father of children. What do you expect more? Yet hope is not over: she desires the spouses for her children, and she still hopes. And when he gets this too, he wants grandchildren; and when he has had these - here he is already in the third generation - he is also reluctant, as an old man, to make room for children: he still seeks to desire for himself, he does not want to hope and seems inclined to good. May heaven give me that grandfather calls me grandfather, who hears him from his mouth and then dies! The child grows up, he calls him grandfather, but that one does not yet recognize himself as a grandfather: in fact, if he is grandfather, if he is old, why does he not recognize that he has to leave, so that those who were born take over? And when he has heard from the voice of the child the relevant name, he himself wants to instruct him. Does not he miss the hope of the great-nephews? Thus he dies and hopes; and he hopes for this and that, once he has received what he hoped.

But, receiving what he hoped, he does not feel satisfied, he yearns for something else. What explains the fulfillment of what you hoped for? Certainly it is time now that you conclude the journey: the end does not move forward. And how many deceives this hope, hope always renewed! First of all, once accomplished it does not satisfy, and for those who do not come true! How many counted to be married and it was not possible for them to take a wife! How many hoped to be well with the consorts and married those that would have troubled them! How many those who wished children and could not have them! And how many more were in trouble because of the troubles that had come upon us! And so for everything. One hoped for riches: if he did not get them, he was tormented by ambition; if he got them, he was tortured by fear. And there is no one to help but hope, no one to be satisfied: there are so many who are deceived and yet, as for earthly hope, they do not quiet down.


That at least our hope is not empty, but that it is satisfied and something so good that it could not be more. What then is the object of our hope for which, once present, taking over as reality, is hope ceasing? Which? Is it the land? No. Something that comes from the earth, like gold, silver, the tree, the harvest, the water? None of these things.

Something flying in space? The soul rejects it. Is it the sky so beautiful and adorned with luminous stars? Among these things visible that there is in fact more delectable, more beautiful? It is not even this. And stuff? These things are pleasing, these things are beautiful, and these things are good: look who made them, he is your hope. He is now your hope, he will then be your good; he is the hope of those who believe, he will be the good of those who see. Tell him: You are my hope. Indeed, you rightly say now: You are my hope, believe, therefore, you do not see yet; you promise, it's not yours yet. As long as you live in the body, you are in exile away from the Lord; you are on the road, not yet at home. He who governs and creates the homeland, has made himself the Way to lead you, therefore, now, tell him: You are my hope. And what, then? My fate in the land of the living. What is now your hope will be your fate. May your hope be on the earth of those who die and it will be your fate in the land of those who live.

Addressed to the Lord. But what can we hope without believing? On the other hand, we can believe something that is not hoped: what Christian does not believe in the punishment of the wicked, without however hoping? And for anyone who believes that they are imminent and experiences an instinctive reaction of fright, it is more correct to speak of fear than of hope. Someone has distinguished these two aspects by saying: To those in fear, hope is allowed. Another poet, though bigger, has said inappropriately: Have I ever been able to hope for such a great pain? Even some grammarians use this quote as an example of improper expression, saying, "He used to hope for a place to fear." In short, there is a faith in bad things and good things, because we believe in good as in evil, and with a good faith, not bad. Again: faith concerns the past, the present and the future. For we believe that Christ is dead, and that is now past; we believe that he sits at the right hand of the Father, and is present; we believe it will come to judge, and it is future.

In the same way, faith concerns ourselves as well as others; in fact, each of us believes that we have begun to exist at a certain moment and that we have certainly not existed eternally, and so for all other men and other objects. And we believe many things that belong to the religious sphere not only around other men, but also around the angels. Hope, on the other hand, is placed only in good things, only in the future, and concerning the one of whom it appears that in them it nourishes hope. According to these terms, for these reasons it will be necessary to distinguish faith from hope on the basis of a rationally justifiable difference, as well as a terminological one. What pertains to not seeing, whether they are believed or hoped for, is common to faith and hope.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, whose testimony is used by distinguished supporters of the principle and of the Catholic faith, faith is defined as the proof of things that are not seen. Moreover, if someone says he believed, that is, having trusted, not words, or witnesses or any argument, but the evidence of things present, it does not seem absurd, to the point that he can rightly take back his way of speaking, saying to him: Thou hast seen, therefore thou hast not believed; it must not therefore be concluded, we can suppose, that all that is believed can not be seen.

However, it is better to call faith that which has been taught to us by the divine words, that is to say, to believe in things that are not seen. Also on the hope the Apostle has said: What hopefully, if seen, is no longer anxious: in fact, what one already sees, how could he hope? If instead we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Therefore believing in future goods is nothing more than hoping for it.

What about this point of love, without which faith is useless? Hope, then, can not exist without love. Moreover, as the Apostle James says, demons also believe and tremble, yet they neither hope nor love; rather, believing in what we hope and love, they fear it can come true. This is why the apostle Paul also approves and recommends the faith that works through charity, which certainly can not exist without hope. Therefore love does not subsist without hope, nor hope without love, nor love and hope subsist without faith.

It is above all in view of the future judgment that the remission of sins takes place in this life. To what extent it has been written: A heavy yoke weighs on the sons of Adam, from the day of their birth from the womb until the day of their burial in the common mother serves to show us that even the little ones, after the regeneration bath, they are afflicted and tormented by various evils, and make us understand that all the saving efficacy of the sacraments is directed to the hope of future goods, rather than to the preservation or purchase of those present. It seems that in this life too many sins are forgiven, without being punished with any punishment; in reality, their sentences are postponed in the future - after all, it is not in vain that we speak of day of judgment to indicate when the judge of the living and the dead will come -.

On the contrary, some sins are punished here below, which, however, if they are forgiven, will certainly not do any harm in the future world. Regarding some temporal punishments inflicted in this life on sinners, the Apostle, addressing those who see their sins destroyed, so that they may not be kept until the end, said: If we judge ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord; but, as we are judged, we are warned by the Lord, not to be condemned together with this world. The good hope of believers comes from faith.


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