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Chapter 2: Hope, Apostolate, and Personal Vocation


Christian hope has a twofold object: hope is in God because of his saving work in Jesus; it is for God’s kingdom and fulfillment in it. Although hope, insofar as it is ecclesial, surely will be fulfilled, it nevertheless is compatible with frustration and failure.

Hope should be nurtured by meditation and prayer, and should be put into practice by living one’s life for the kingdom. Not only hope but fear of hell should be correctly integrated into Christian life. Confirmation, the sacrament of personal vocation, empowers Christians to live in hope. Presumption and despair, as sins against hope, are very grave.

Jesus’ mission was to establish a new human communion with God. While this mission was directed exclusively to serving the heavenly kingdom, the gospel also calls for radical social and economic reform. The Church’s mission concerns exactly what Jesus’ mission concerned—that is, every true human good, considered in relation to the kingdom—and expresses a preferential option for the poor, without taking the side of one class or another.

All Catholics have apostolic responsibilities, and indeed each one’s whole life should be apostolic. Moreover, the essence of apostolic responsibility is bearing witness, so that only truly Christian words and deeds satisfy the responsibility. All Catholics likewise have responsibility for the Church’s entire mission; and while clerics, lay persons, and religious meet this responsibility in diverse ways, their diverse apostolates nevertheless have certain common characteristics, including a constant readiness to suffer martyrdom, along with humility and love.

God calls every member of the Church with a personal vocation: a unique share in the Church’s mission. Every Catholic should live his or her entire life in response to this divine calling, which includes both the commitments one should make and a suitable response to conditions beyond one’s control. The responsibilities pertaining to vocation are threefold: to discern each of its elements, to accept the call it involves, and to carry it out faithfully. While faithfulness to vocation does not preclude change and creativity, it does require reaffirming commitments in the face of temptation and refusing to use bad means to good ends.