with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of
evil. The evil spirit of defeatism is brother to the
temptation to separate, before its time, the wheat
from the weeds; it is the fruit of an anxious and
self-centred lack of trust.
86. In some places a spiritual “desertification”
has evidently come about, as the result of at-
tempts by some societies to build without God
or to eliminate their Christian roots. In those
places “the Christian world is becoming sterile,
and it is depleting itself like an overexploited
ground, which transforms into a desert”.
other countries, violent opposition to Christian-
ity forces Christians to hide their faith in their
own beloved homeland. This is another painful
kind of desert. But family and the workplace
can also be a parched place where faith nonethe-
less has to be preserved and communicated. Yet
“it is starting from the experience of this desert,
from this void, that we can again discover the joy
of believing, its vital importance for us men and
women. In the desert we rediscover the value of
what is essential for living; thus in today’s world
there are innumerable signs, often expressed im-
plicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for
the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert
people of faith are needed who, by the exam-
ple of their own lives, point out the way to the
 J.H. N
, Letter of 26 January 1833, in
The Letters
and Diaries of John Henry Newman
, vol. III, Oxford, 1979, 204.
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