The following is a selection from Charles Peguy's The Portal of the Mystery of the Second Virtue. which also appeared in Communio: International Catholic Review (Fall, 1994). Presented as a monologue on the part of God himself, Peguy's vision offers us a glimpse of "the little girl of hope":
"...My three virtues, says God.
The three virtues, my creatures.
My daughters, my children.
Are themselves like my other creatures.
Of the race of men.
Faith is a loyal Wife.
Charity is a Mother.
An ardent mother, noble-hearted.
Or an older sister who is like a mother.
Hope is a little girl, nothing at all....
"And yet it is this little girl who will endure worlds.
This little girl, nothing at all.
She alone, carrying the others, who will cross worlds past.
As the star guided the three kings from the deepest Orient.
Toward the cradle of my Son.
Like a trembling flame.
She alone will guide the Virtues and Worlds.
One flame will pierce the eternal shadows....
"We too often forget, my child, that hope is a virtue, that it is a theological virtue, and that of all the virtues, and of the three theological virtues, it is perhaps the most pleasing to God. That it is assuredly the most difficult, that it is perhaps the only difficult one, and that it is undoubtedly the most pleasing to God.
"Faith is obvious. Faith can walk on its own. To believe you just have to let yourself go, you just need to look around. In order not to believe, you would have to do violence to yourself, frustrate yourself. Harden yourself. Run yourself backwards, turn yourself inside-out, thwart yourself. Faith is completely natural, easy-going, simple, easy-coming. Very easy-coming. Very easy-going. It's a woman that everyone knows, a nice old lady, a nice old parishioner, a nice woman from the parish, an old grandmother. She tells stories about the old days, what happened in the old days.
"In order not to believe, my child, you would have to shut your eyes and plug your ears. In order not to see, not to believe.
"Unfortunately Charity is obvious. Charity can walk on its own. to love your neighbor you just have to let yourself go, you just have to look around at all the distress. In order not to love you would have to do violence to yourself, torture yourself, torment yourself, frustrate yourself. Harden yourself. Hurt yourself. Distort yourself. Run yourself backwards, turn yourself inside-out. Thwart yourself. Charity is completely natural, simple, overflowing, very easy-coming. It's the first movement of the heart. And the first movement is the right one. Charity is a mother and a sister.
"In order not to love your neighbor, my child, you would have to shut your eyes and plug your ears.
"But hope is not obvious. Hope does not come on its own. To hope, my child, you would have to be quite fortunate, to have obtained, received a great grace.
"It's faith which is easy and not believing which would be impossible. It's charity which is easy and not loving which would be impossible. But it's hoping which is difficult....
"And the easy thing and the tendency is to despair and that's the great temptation.
"This little hope moves forward in between her two older sisters and one scarcely notices her. On the path to salvation, on the earthly path, on the rocky path of salvation, on the interminable road, on the road in between her two older sisters the little hope
In between her two older sisters.
The one who's married.
And the one who's a mother.
And no one pays attention, the Christian people don't pay attention,
except to the two older sisters.
The first and the last.
Who attend to the most pressing things first.
Who attend to the moment at hand.
To each passing moment.
The Christian people see only the two older sisters,
don't notice anything but the two older sisters.
The one on the right and the one on the left.
And they hardly ever see the one in the middle.
The little one, the one who's still going to school.
And who walks.
Lost in her sisters' skirts.
And they willingly believe that it's the two older ones
who drag the youngest along by the hand.
In the middle.
To make her walk this rocky path of salvation.
They are blind who cannot see otherwise.
That it's she in the middle who leads her older sisters along.
And that without her they wouldn't be anything.
But two women already grown old.
Two elderly women.
Wrinkled by life.
It's she, the little one, who carries them all.
Because Faith sees only what is.
But she, she sees what will be.
Charity loves only what is.
But she, she loves what will be.
Faith sees what is.
In time and in eternity.
Hope sees what will be.
In time and for eternity.
In the future, so to speak, of eternity itself.
Charity loves what is.
In time and in eternity.
God and neighbor.
As Faith sees.
God and Creation.
But Hope loves what will be.
In time and for eternity.
In the future, so to speak.
Hope sees what has not yet been and what will be.
She loves what has not yet been and what will be.
In the future of time and of eternity."