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Mystical Hope

The Gift of Confidence

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Father Richard describes the gift of confidence, which arises not from our ego or efforts, but from the foundational goodness of God.

When we are confident, we believe in a deep way that life is good, God is good, and humanity is good. We become safe and salutary people for others. We do exciting and imaginative things because we are confident that we are part of a story line that is going somewhere, and we want to be connected to something good. This is what modern secularism cannot offer us.

Theologically speaking, we identify the virtues of faith, hope, and love as participation in the very life of God. We don’t achieve this by will power; we already participate in it by our deepest nature. It is not occasioned by perfect circumstances. In fact, most of the people I know who have great faith or hope live in difficult circumstances.

True confidence is really a blending of both faith and hope. I don’t understand the alchemy of that union, but I know when it is present and when it isn’t. It often feels like something which I have accidentally discovered, something given from nowhere, something that participates in Someone Else’s life. It is of an entirely different nature than natural virtues like temperance or patience, which we gain through practice. I think that is why we pray for hope, wait for it, and believe in it, leaving the ground fallow until it comes. Those who do such things know that it does come and is always given—and all they can do is thank Someone.

The good news is that there is a guide, a kind of inner compass—and it resides within each of us. As the Scriptures put it, “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). This Holy Spirit, described in John’s Gospel as an “advocate” (John 14:16), guides all of us from home and toward home. The Holy Spirit is entirely for us, more than we are for ourselves, it seems. She speaks in our favor against the negative voices that judge and condemn us. This gives us all such hope—now we do not have to do life all by ourselves, or even do life perfectly “right.” Our life will be “done unto us,” just as happened with Mary (see Luke 1:38).

Optimism is a natural virtue and a wonderful gift of temperament when things are going well, when we think tomorrow will be better than today. Yet Christian hope has nothing to do with the belief that tomorrow is necessarily going to be better. Jesus seems to be saying that if even one mustard seed is sprouting, or one coin found, or one sheep recovered (see Luke 15)—that is reason enough for a big party! Even a small indicator of God is still an indicator of God—and therefore an indicator of final reason, meaning, and joy. A little bit of God goes a long way.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2001, 2020), 119–120; and

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 91–92.

Story from Our Community:
With every morning’s reflection, brought together with so much love, under the guidance and spiritual vision of Father Richard, my day is expansive with the love of God. As a retired teacher and “lifelong learner,” I have found new ways to participate in the gifts I receive every day and to live with hope and an understanding that God’s mercy and love are eternal. Thanks so much to you all! —Hilda W.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: What if I stopped complaining about how suburban streetlights pollute the night sky and instead tried to discover what beauty their light could uncover? How could my commitment to seeing something as it is, without judgment, help me see beyond my initial impression of it?
—Nicholas Kramer, Photographer of December DM photo series
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