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The Second Vatican Council declared that “the future of humanity is in

the hands of those men who are capable of providing the generations to

come with reasons for life and optimism” (GS, no. 31). No one can live

without the hope that life has ultimate and lasting meaning beyond the

concerns and struggles, the joys and satisfactions of each day. Catholics

find that meaning and hope in Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has

sent into the world for the salvation of all peoples.

But the world can be a disturbing place. There is war and anxi-

ety because of terrorism. There is the fierceness of competition and the

injustices that come from greed. There are continuous distractions that

come from the media, the numerous hours given to television, radio, and

Internet. There are the unrelenting demands of work and family life.

Yet in the midst of all this, people are generously loving within their

families, with their friends, and for their communities. Nevertheless, a

nagging question remains: Where is all this going? There is a persistent

thirst for meaning and hope.

Many people find refuge in various types of spiritual activities and

communities that promise serenity in a hectic world and refuge from its

pressures. They look to meditation techniques and to well-publicized

personalities for ways to find tranquility and some hope for themselves.

In the midst of such a culture, the Catholic Church offers a message

that is not its own but comes from God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ

two thousand years ago, yet is ever new and renewing as it is received,

celebrated, lived, and contemplated today. The Church offers to all people

the possibility of encountering the living God today and finding in him

lasting meaning and hope.

God continues to be present in the Church as the Gospel of his Son,

Jesus Christ, is proclaimed and received by her members through the