Hope is Not a Wish

 ◊  Saint Joan de Lestonnac, pray for us

I remember this night like it was last night.

In the midst of all the crying and pain and pleading with God, I heard the words, “Not yet.”

Two simple words. Peace enveloped me. Healing from the depression progressed over the next 6 months.

Five years later, as I was reading the first part on hope by Thomist philosopher Joseph Pieper in Faith, Hope, Love, these same words came back to me. We are status viatoris, meaning “one on the way” (which brings up another set of connotations).

The state of being on the way is not to be understood in a primary and literal sense as a designation of place. It refers to the innermost structure of created nature. It is the inherent “not yet” of the finite being.

This becoming-ness of the creature is especially evident in the concept of status viatoris; in the “not yet” of man’s being on the way , the whole span of the creature’s “becoming-ness” (Przywara) is revealed, as in a concave mirror, between the shores of being and nothingness.

The “way” of homo viator, of man “on the way”, is not a directionless back-and-forth between being and nothingness; it leads toward being and away from nothingness; it leads to realization, not annihilation, although this realization is “not yet” fulfilled and the fall into nothingness is “not yet” impossible.

For the individual who experiences, in the status viatoris, his essential creatureliness, the “not-yet-existing-being” of his own existence, there is only one answer to such an experience. This answer must not be despair—for the meaning of the creature’s existence is not nothingness but being, that is, fulfillment. Nor must the answer be the comfortable certainty of possession—for the “becoming-ness” of the creature still borders dangerously on nothingness. Both—despair and the certainty of possession—are in conflict with the truth of reality. The only answer that corresponds to man’s actual existential situation is hope. The virtue of hope is preeminently the virtue of the status viatoris; it is the proper virtue of the “not yet”.

Status viatoris, one on the way, a journey. Christian hope is not wish; it is the “not yet” of the fulfillment of God’s promise.

(This also recalled a David Whyte poem to mind.)

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