Faith, Hope and Charity - you're heard, I'm sure "the greatest of these is charity" (1 Cor. 13:13) but which is the "weakest?" We often find opportunities to strengthen Faith and Charity, but what of Hope? In a French parable I was told by a French priest and as you can see in the Eastern icon to the right, Faith and Charity are portrayed as mature, and queenly - yet Hope is portrayed as a little girl. Why is that? Because Hope does not get exercised as much, and doesn't mature. What does this mean to us as Christians? Seeing that you're reading this now, you're likely somewhat interested in apologetics, which allows you to flex your "Faith muscles" or at least give them some exercise. One would hope too that this exercising is done with Charity too, so both are getting strengthened and built up (when apologetics are done appropriately, per 1 Peter 3:15).
As Christians we are also called to do acts of charity, giving to the poor, spending time with the lonely, etc. So if one is living their Faith, then Charity grows naturally from that Faith. So, this is why we see these two portrayed as more mature adults. Hope is still a child because she is not put to the test except, typically speaking, in times of great need - and for most of us, we don't see such times very often.
When we find ourselves on our deathbed, Faith and Charity may only take us so far - but Hope is what we're going to need the most in that hour when Satan attacks us and tries to bring us into the sin of despair. In reality this is the "unforgiveable sin" for when one is in despair at that final hour they have given up on Faith and Charity - so THAT is where Satan will focus his attacks! Despair is not only the loss of Hope, but also a loss of Faith.
What is the difference between St. Peter and Judas Iscariot? Both were Apostles, and both betrayed our Lord, yet one is exalted while the other shamed and condemned. The difference is Judas went into despair, he did not believe Jesus would forgive him of his betrayal and went off and hanged himself. St. Peter, on the other hand, after flatly denying our Lord was forgiven and Peter accepted His Grace! The contrast between these two is stark - but their similarities are startling as well.
The point is Hope needs to be strengthened and matured so that we are more able to endure the attacks of Satan who would like nothing more than to get us to fall into despair, like Judas, and he "wins" another soul away from eternal salvation. Having Hope gives us the ability to persevere through the darkness which can just about be guaranteed that each of us will go through. So long as we have Hope, we can persevere - and those who persevere to the Last Day shall see eternal salvation (Matthew 10:22) see also: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11711a.htm.
1 Peter 3:15