Year of Faith

Through his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, Benedict XVI announced a Year of Faith to begin on October 11, 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the” opening of the Second Vatican Council.  It will conclude on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on November 24,2013.

Some key words that stand out in this letter are evangelization, charity, and study.  Our Holy Father encourages us during this upcoming Year of Faith to make renewed efforts to study our faith. He especially suggests the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in our study. A deeper understanding and appreciation of our faith will produce more fruitful evangelization and a multiplicity of good works for the Kingdom of God. Just as Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and men and women through the ages have given witness of the faith so each of us is meant to do the same. As we look forward to this year, let us commit ourselves to prepare our hearts and minds for a great renewal in the Church.

Below are some significant passages to whet your appetite to examine this easy-to-read but challenging Apostolic Letter:

The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. (Section 1.)

(Quoting from his homily at his first Mass as Pope.)”The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”(Section 2.)

The theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. (Section 4.)

The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. (Section 6, paragraph 1.)

The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf Acts 5:31). (Section 6, paragraph 2.)

“Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigor that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples.  (Section 7, paragraph 1.)

Saint Luke teaches that knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart, the authentic sacred space within the person is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see below the surface and to understand that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.  (Section 10, paragraph 2.)

Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This “standing with him” points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous. (Section 10. paragraph 3.)

Reprinted with permission, Pentecost Today April/May/June 2012