We are in the liturgical season of Advent, the season of Christian hope. Christian hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism is a state of mind that gives us a positive outlook on the future, on ourselves, on the world around us, but this state of mind can change or disappear if the circumstances that make up our life change or vary. An illness, an economic setback, a failure, a disappointment in love, so many things can ruin an optimistic mood and make it disappear, at least temporarily.
Christian hope, on the other hand, does not change, does not disappear, does not disappoint, because it is based on faith in God and in the love of Jesus for us, which endures forever. Christian hope is a gentle and sweet gift of God, a supernatural virtue. Hope is based on divine filiation. And in what do we hope? Because the world offers us many desirable goods for our desires that provide us with a relative happiness and Christian hope is also oriented to those goods of the earth, but the longings of the Christian go infinitely beyond and, even if those desirable goods of the earth fail us, Christian hope does not disappear because it is supported and oriented in the love of God itself and in the eternal goods that God has promised us: in enjoying it fully, with an endless joy.
This supreme good allows us to look at failure, illness and even death with the wings of hope, which encourages our hearts to rise up to God, our Father. The culture we breathe today tends to laugh at death as Halloween does, or to hide it because it dreads it, seeing no solution.
Christian hope, on the contrary, makes us see it with sadness but with the consolation of the future eternal life and resurrection. This hope makes us cry out to the Lord: "You are my strength" (Psalm 42:2), when everything goes wrong.
In this journey of hope, the Virgin Mary, whom we celebrate on December 8, accompanies us as our guide, teacher and mother. Immaculate. Among the Holy Fathers it was common to refer to her as "all holy", "all pure", "free from every stain of sin". As the Second Vatican Council affirms: "Enriched from the first moment of her conception with a radiant holiness that is altogether singular, the Virgin of Nazareth is greeted by the angel of the Annunciation, at God's command, as full of grace (cf. Lk 1:28)" (LG, 56).
I encourage you to live this splendid liturgical season of Advent nourishing in you that marvelous virtue of hope by looking to Mary, through whom life came to us. "Death came through Eve, life through Mary" (St. Jerome, Epist. 22:21). With my blessing.
Archbishop of Mérida-Badajoz.