The Archbishop of Westminster is urging a new sense of hope in order to confront a 'sense of weariness' and 'indifference' in society today.
'Hope gets us out of bed in the morning. Hope keeps us going through difficulties and tackling things that seem almost overwhelming. We need that in our society today,' he told Christian Today in an interview to mark the publication of his new book, Hope in Action.
In our society today it's important that we ponder and delve a bit more deeply as to what we mean by hope, he argues.
'Simply put, there's a sense of weariness, a sense of enforced indifference. People feel they can't deal with things, that the world is very difficult. A lot of our personal lives are in difficulty. Hope is an important strength of virtue in our lives. We need to understand it more deeply.'
He described the 'practice of hope' as the 'small print' of our lives, shaping how we respond to crisis and difficulty.
'So there's a practical approach and also a more reflective approach – how to understand hope, what its roots are and how it is generated. Hope is the impetus to act. It needs both a desire and a vision. It's in the mind and also needs to be in the will.'
Traditionally, he said, the virtues of faith, hope and charity are the 'hinges', the 'cardinal virtues' on which our lives operate.
'The ultimate thing we desire, the ultimate vision we have is our happiness. Faith enables you to find the pathway to that as ultimately it is in the mystery of God. It is faith that makes possible our hope. As a Christian, it is spelled out in the person of Christ so the source of hope is Christ. He puts flesh on our vision and provokes our desire to act.
'What I see in the lives of people who are part of the Catholic community and the wider Christian community is huge evidence of a desire to make a difference, the impetus to act which lies at the heart of hope.'
Having worked with people in difficult areas – Gaza, Erbil, countering sexual violence, work in prisons and in human trafficking, and many more – he recognises he is privileged because he sees people at prayer as they reach for the sources of hope.
He refers to the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, now Lord Sacks, who said recently that it takes great faith and hope to be a parent.
Cardinal Nichols said: 'When faith and hope and willingness to make sacrifice diminish, the desire of people to be parents is weakened and society is weakened. These things are the fabric of society.'
He says in the preface that the book arises from a series of talks and lectures he gave, many of them during the Year of Mercy, December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, declared by Pope Francis. 'I first of all look at what we mean by Christian hope, and what it means to be a disciple with a mission, before looking at the importance of mercy and some particular situations in which God asks us to put our Christian hope into action.
'My hope is that this book, and the questions at the end of each chapter, will encourage you to be strong in your faith and in the works of mercy that spring from it.'
Hope in Action: Reaching out to a world in need is published by SPCK.