Josemaría Escrivá Obras

But along with these timid and frivolous types, we also find here on earth many upright individuals pursuing noble ideals, even though their motives are often not supernatural, but merely philanthropic. These people face up to all kinds of hardship. They generously spend themselves serving others, helping them overcome suffering and difficulties. I am always moved to respect and even to admiration by the tenacity of those who work wholeheartedly for noble ideals. Nevertheless, I consider I have a duty to remind you that everything we undertake in this life, if we see it exclusively as our own work, bears from the outset the stamp of perishability. Remember the words of Scripture: 'I considered all that my hands had done and the effort I had spent doing it, and I saw that all was vanity and a striving after wind, with nothing gained under the sun.'

This precariousness does not stifle hope. On the contrary, once we recognise the insignificant and contingent nature of our earthly endeavours, the way is then open for true hope, a hope which upgrades all human work and turns it into a meeting point with God. An inexhaustible light then bathes everything we do and chases away the dark shadows of disappointment. But if we transform our temporal projects into ends in themselves and blot out from our horizon our eternal dwelling place and the end for which we have been created, which is to love and praise the Lord and then to possess him for ever in Heaven, then our most brilliant endeavours turn traitor, and can even become a means of degrading our fellow creatures. Remember that sincere and well-known exclamation of St Augustine, who had such bitter experience when God was unknown to him and he was seeking happiness outside God: 'You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you!' Perhaps there is no greater tragedy for man than the sense of disillusionment he suffers when he has corrupted or falsified his hope, by placing it in something other than the one Love which satisfies without ever satiating.

In my case, and I wish the same to happen to you, the certainty I derive from feeling — from knowing — that I am a son of God fills me with real hope which, being a supernatural virtue, adapts to our nature when it is infused in us, and so is also a very human virtue. I am happy because I am certain we will attain Heaven if we remain faithful to the end; I rejoice in the thought of the bliss that will be ours, quoniam bonus, because my God is good and his mercy infinite. This conviction spurs me on to grasp that only those things that bear the imprint of God can display the indelible sign of eternity and have lasting value. Therefore, far from separating me from the things of this earth, hope draws me closer to these realities in a new way, a Christian way, which seeks to discover in everything the relation between our fallen nature and God, our Creator and Redeemer.

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