Hope in God

  The Holy Trinity is the center of our life and worship and the source of our hope and love.
   We are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. We are forgiven in the name of the Trinity. We are married in the name of the Holy Trinity.
   We bless the name of the Holy Trinity: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit." And we are blessed in the name of the Holy Trinity: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."
   During every Divine Liturgy, we confess our faith in the Holy Trinity when we say in the Nicene Creed: "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty . . . and in one Lord Jesus Christ . . . and in the Holy Spirit."
   When we pray: "Holy God! Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us!" we are praying to the Holy Trinity. Holy God refers to the Father. Holy and Mighty refers to the Son. And Holy and Immortal refers to the Holy Spirit.
   The Church offers us a beautiful prayer to the Holy Trinity that we make use daily: My hope is the Father, My refuge is the Son, My protection is the Holy Spirit. All Holy Trinity, glory be to You. 
   We need the Holy Trinity. Who among us does not need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? St. Paul writes: "You are well acquainted with the favor shown you by our Lord Jesus Christ: how for your sake He made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty" (2 Cor 8: 9).
   Who does not need the love of God? "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die but have eternal life" (Jn 3: 16). Who among us does not need the communion of the Holy Spirit? "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you" (Acts 1: 8).
   Ours, by gracious gift, is the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. This is our source of hope ~ God is with us! This sums up the entire Gospel, presenting us with the fullness of God's presence, power and love.
   St. Irenaeus pictures the Trinity as God the Father stretching His arms out to us in love; one arm is Jesus and the other arm is the Holy Spirit. So we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reaching out to us in love. Surely such love demands a response. To ignore or reject this Trinitarian love is to miss out on the whole point of life.

of Hope

What are some of the gifts we can give to others that will increase hope within them and our world?

The gift of praise ~ give someone a sense of their own worth through a sincere compliment.
The gift of attention ~ giving your undivided attention, interest and time, no matter what the distractions or pressures.
The gift of understanding ~ giving a compassionate response to a heart that is hurting.
The gift of inspiration ~ giving a positive thought or promise from God's word that encourages and uplifts another in life.
The gift of presence ~ giving yourself to be with someone to share a moment of joy or sorrow.
The gift of example ~ trying to show my family what I believe is most important in life ~ not just telling them.
The gift of humility ~ I'll try to admit my mistakes, and say often the magic words: "I'm sorry. I was wrong."
The gift of concession ~ giving others the right to be right. Sometimes you win by not winning.
The gift of thoughtfulness ~ I promise to think before I speak. And give very little advice even if I'm asked.
The gift of self-esteem ~ whenever we help someone feel better about themselves we truly give the gift of love.
The gift of caring ~ The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis or cancer, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everyone. The greatest evil is lack of love and charity; the terrible indifference towards one's neighbor.
The gift of Christ ~ to those who do not know Him. To know Christ is to have life eternal ~ the greatest gift of all.

Grandma's Lap
   Grandma says we can learn much about meeting the challenges of life by looking at the way an eagle meets a storm.
   As the storm sweeps in, the eagle sets its wings at the proper angle so that the winds will pick him up and lift him above the storm. While the storm is hitting the earth, the eagle is soaring above it, using the very winds of the storm for propulsion.
   God compares His people to eagles when He says: "They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint" (Is 40: 31).
   We face many storms in life: illness, opposition, failure, misunderstanding and disappointment. When we are approached by a storm, we must remember the example of the eagle and set the wings of our faith in such a way that the adverse winds will lift us above the storm.
   Grandma also said we need to know when and whom to ask for assistance when we face the challenges of life.
   Once a mother stood watching her daughter try to hem her skirt. The daughter tried and tried but the threads seemed to refuse to cooperate. Frustrated and angry the girl began to cry. "Daughter," the mother said gently, "are you sure you are using all your strength?" "Of course I am, " answered the girl. "But you haven't asked for help," said the mother.
   How often do we try to arrange our lives by ourselves, to try to hold everything together without assistance? We try and try, but in vain; for we rely solely on our own meager strength. We forget that we have a heavenly Father who is all-powerful, who is willing to come to our assistance with tremendous power. God stands waiting for us to ask Him for help. "My God in turn will supply your needs fully, in a way worthy of His magnificent riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4: 19).
   We must pray for wisdom when we need help, Grandma always said. One of Aesop's fables tells of a lion which had taken on more than it had calculated in attacking a fierce, wild bull. The lion called on its friend the dolphin, to help. Immediately the dolphin raced to the rescue. But once the dolphin was out of the water, he was as helpless as any fish could be.
   The lesson is ~ when you need help, be sure to ask someone who is not only willing to help, but also capable of giving it.
   The God in whom we believe is not only willing but able. Listen to what the Sacred Scriptures say of the power of Jesus:
   "To Him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine ~ to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end" (Eph 3: 20-21).

  Recipe for Hope

   Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life, this recipe may help us enjoy a better perspective on life.
   Sit down with a paper and pencil. Divide the paper into four equal parts. Label the first column "Personal Strengths." In it list all the things you have going for you: education, skills, connections, personality, health, etc.
   Head the next column "This Always Helps." List all the things that usually lift your spirits when you are troubled: art, music, prayer, volunteer work, physical exercise, etc.
   Next, head a column of "Persons of Wisdom." List the persons you find reliable and who will offer sound advice: a favorite relative, a neighbor, a priest, a trusted friend, etc.
   Label the fourth column "New Opportunities." List the ways your present situation will lead you to a better life, to discover new strengths, will provide the chance for you to grow, deeper, wiser, holier.

Praying in Hope

   Each of us has needs given to us by the Lord through the Holy Spirit; included are: the need for mercy, for forgiveness and for sanctification.
   Mercy ~ The Great Litany that begins the Divine Liturgy expresses our needs by confidently placing trust in the Lord for our temporal and eternal welfare. As the priest prays silently: "O Master...bestow on those praying with us the riches of Your mercy and compassion."
   Our first concern for His mercy in the Litany is "For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord." The faithful confidently respond: "Lord, have mercy."
   Forgiveness ~ Our need for forgiveness is frequently expressed in the Divine Liturgy. Beginning with the prayer introducing the Thrice-holy Hymn, the priest humbly addresses our Holy God that "He not turn His face from us sinners but offer repentance as a way for salvation." Before concluding the prayer, the priest begs the Master: "Forgive us all our offenses, voluntary and involuntary."
   This request for forgiveness follows our encounter with the Lord symbolized by the Holy Gospel carried in procession and presented to us. We are called to "worship and fall down before Christ," seeking His forgiveness.
   Immediately following the consecration of the bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood, the priest begs: "Send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these Gifts here present. The first request is "for sobriety of soul, forgiveness of sins, fellowship of Your Holy Spirit, fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven, confidence before You and not for judgment or condemnation."
   Sanctification ~ This is the positive aspect of forgiveness. It is brought about by the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier. Without His help we can do nothing to please God, especially to win our salvation. God provides us the help of the Holy Spirit and this need we call grace. In the second antiphonal prayer, we pray that the Lord: "sanctify those who love the beauty of Your house." In the Thrice-holy Hymn prayer, we request: "Sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant that we, in holiness, may serve You all the days of our lives."
   The truth of sanctification is realized when we pray the Lord after consecration that the Holy Spirit change the precious gifts offered and us into Christ. Holiness calls us to be Christ in each and every aspect of our lives.
   The source of this need of sanctification includes all Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
   The final prayer of Thanksgiving concludes: "For You are our sanctification, Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Our cooperation with this need will indeed lead us to salvation.

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