But we all find it difficult when we seem to be surrounded by the the grave illnesses of close family and of friends, when perhaps we come up against those whose main motivation appears to tear down and destroy rather than preserve, cherish and build up, to be able to hold on to the fundamental Christian virtue of hope.
Pace the quotation from Josef Pieper from a few days ago, it's difficult when faced with what at least feels at the moment still very much like the defeat of many of our earthly hopes for heaven-directed things, to be anything other than filled with a kind of ironic amusement which can, if we don't guard against it constantly in our prayers, simply be a mask hiding - not too successfully - a corrosive inner despair.
We need to hold on to joy, not in the somewhat false, fixed grin, "I know I'm saved" sort of way, but the deep down joy which, even if everything else collapses around us, recognises that the Lord is in control of events, and that when we sometimes question his ways, he is in fact interrogating ours.
To return to Josef Pieper:
"Love is the prime gift. Whatever else is freely given to us becomes a gift only through love."