“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity! Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” These powerful words of Pope St. John Paul II deliver a message of hope for this earthly pilgrimage. We cast out fear with radical hope in God’s final victory. But these words are also a challenge. It is a challenge for us to live more deeply, more authentically the Gospel message and “put out into the deep.” It can be overwhelming to think about and deal with the problems of the world and the uncertainty of the future. And yet redemption is real, and God’s grace to overcome evil is available to us even now. I was recently talking to a friend who said that to cease to hope is to cease to be a Christian. For then we have lost faith in the power of what Christ did on the Cross. Though the victory will only be final when Christ comes again, we are called to always live toward that moment.
“…to cease to hope is to cease to be a Christian.”
This sense is something that characterized John Paul II’s pontificate, and in a special way his teaching of Theology of the Body. He affirms the difficulties that are part of life, and yet challenges us to always live in hope. He writes: “In his everyday life, man must draw from the mystery of the redemption of the body the inspiration and strength to overcome the evil that is dormant in him because of the threefold concupiscence . . . what is at stake is the hope of the everyday, which in the measure of normal tasks and difficulties of human life helps to overcome ‘evil with good’ (Rom 12:21)”(TOB 86:7).
In the 6-8th Grade curriculum we seek to put young people in close contact with the message of hope of John Paul II. To that end, one of the features of the new curriculum currently in development is short written lessons that attempt to “transliterate” certain key passages directly from the Theology of the Body in a way accessible to the age group. As a writer, I always begin with a careful and close reading of the text of John Paul II. I think, pray, discuss, and write. These short written lessons will be available for the students themselves to read and ponder. What is of first importance is that through these lessons, the message of John Paul II will come alive for a new generation. The message of the dignity of the human person, and his call to greatness was never more needed than now. We believe the Theology of the Body has the power to breathe new life into the Church and remind us as John Paul II said: “We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
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