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When Pope John Paul II first called for a New Evangelization 30 years ago, it did not rank high on the Richter scale. Over the ensuing years, he spoke increasingly of the need for new methods of bringing the Gospel to formerly Christian countries. He also called for greater zeal and new ways to express eternal truths.
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At a conference last year I tried to take to heart plenary speaker Sister Helen Prejean's words of challenge. I say, "try" as I wondered if I would have the same spirit of compassion and forgiveness under the same circumstances she witnessed.
Several years ago, at a conference that I attended, the keynote speaker challenged his audience in this way: All of us are members of various communities: we live in families, are part of Church congregations, have colleagues with whom we work, have a circle of friends and are part of a larger civic community.
Some years ago, The New Yorker ran a cartoon that perfectly lampooned the loopy ideology of "inclusion" that has come to characterize so much of the Christian world.
Jesus calls each of us to a profound interior freedom that is not of this world. It is a freedom that sees through the empty promises of fame, wealth, power and worldly wisdom. It is a freedom that no political system and no human force can take away. It is the freedom of divine love and mercy.
Many years ago, a relative whom I had only once met went through a time of great difficulty. The situation I was in at that time was such that I had the opportunity to reach out with some concrete help.