To answer your question, I finally got to reading pope Benedict's spe salvi and it was totally worth it.
First of all, it is "in hope we are saved"
The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life
A person who hopes has been led out of darkness. Hope gives our works meaning and our life direction. We work to bring about and build up the Kingdom of God here on earth, all the while hoping for a share in it in the next.
The pope relates the story of St Josephine Bakhita, an African saint whose life was almost pure hope.
She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father's right hand”. Now she had “hope” —no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed”, no longer a slave, but a free child of God.
Her hope was simply God Himself. That is Catholic hope, what else could you say the substance of which is Faith?
You do point out some true doctrinal differences between our sects. We don't say that a person can lose their salvation because we don't presume that we had it to begin with.
A person can't become unbaptized, but through intentional evil acts can put themselves outside a state of grace. If one dies outside a state of grace they will go to hell. Don't do this!
But, as Jesus says, the only unforgivable sin is the offense against the Holy Spirit, which is quite simply denying that He has the power to save. This despair is the virtue which is the opposite of hope.
So I think I wrote enough, maybe someone else will touch on faith and works. But we believe that if a person has faith they'll show it in the way they live their lives. As the pope says our hope is "performative" not just "informative" it directs our path, it doesn't just fill our brains with lofty notions. And it is communitive, not individualistic, our hope is to seek the kingdom as a people. Even though we must die alone like Christ, we can help carry each others crosses. It's not that we do it to earn salvation, we do it in imitation of Jesus and the hope of what lies beyond sends us forth