The Virtue of Hope, and Saint Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales

In daily life we find ourselves hoping for many things that we desire as good. The supernatural virtue of hope is based on our ultimate good: the love of God and eternal happiness with Him. We trust in God for the means to achieve this desire, because God Himself wills the salvation of all and has promised us His grace.

Genuine hope leads us to co-operate with God by using the means that He has given us: the sacraments, His actual graces, and the good example of others, especially the saints. God will never refuse us His grace, therefore we must focus on our efforts to respond to His gifts.

The sins against hope are despair and presumption. The first is a distrust of God’s greatness and power, and His loving mercy. The second is a failure to act in accordance with the will of the one whose kindness we take for granted.

St Francis de Sales was the Bishop of Geneva shortly after the reformation. He lived in Annecy because his diocese was under the control of the Calvinists. His writings show abundant evidence of his own love for God and desire for union with Him, and his desire to share that love with others and to teach them the path of holiness.

By his teaching, example, and kindliness of character, St Francis de Sales brought tens of thousands of Calvinists back to the Church. He shows the effect of the virtue of hope, which gave efficacy to his prayers and inspired him to work tirelessly for what seemed an impossible cause.