Q: What is the Year of Faith? — McCain Morrison, St. Paul the Apostle School, Davenport
McCain, your question is so important for the Diocese of Davenport that I will answer it in two parts.
I hope that when school begins you and your classmates will talk about this year of prayer, reflection that will lead all of you to be evangelizers. It is a great opportunity for everyone around our diocese and the whole world to answer the call for renewal of our commitment to the faith that is “always the same, yet the source of ever new light.”
Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed a Year of Faith beginning Oct. 11, 2012, and concluding Nov. 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King. The start of this Year of Faith coincides with the anniversaries of two great events that have marked the life of the Church: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
Why the focus on faith? What could be more important than our faith? It is the foundation of who we are as Catholic Christians and a gracious gift from a loving God. Yet, we are increasingly exposed to secular or worldly and material movements that pull us away from our relationship with a loving God. From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict has worked to gather God’s people into fuller communion with one another and with the risen Lord. This Year of Faith is a time for us to renew our personal relationship with Jesus and recommit ourselves to living out the Gospels by our witness in the places we live, work, play and learn. We are called to give ourselves more fully to God by professing our faith in Jesus Christ, his only Son, as expressed in the Creed.
The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the risen Lord in the world of today — capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the “door of faith.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Note with Pastoral Recommendations for the Year of Faith”)
“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.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei Apostolic Letter, 2011, 7.)
In October, the reality of the Year of Faith declared by the Holy Father will be a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith” (see Acts 14:27). The door of faith is opened at our baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church. Catholics are also asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.
How does the Year of Faith affect the average Catholic? Every baptized Catholic is called through baptism to be a disciple of Christ and proclaim the Gospel. The Year of Faith is a wonderful opportunity for Catholics to renew their baptismal call by living out the everyday moments of their lives with faith, hope and love. This everyday witness is necessary for proclaiming the Gospel to family, friends, neighbors and society. In order to witness to the Gospel, Catholics must be strengthened through celebrating Sunday Mass and the sacraments and especially reconciliation.
Pastors and catechetical leaders are encouraged to provide us with opportunities to deepen our faith during the Year of Faith through retreats, special liturgies, Bible studies, service opportunities and formation sessions on the catechism and sacraments.
Our Year of Faith is a time for us to:
• Reflect on the gift of faith
• Deepen our knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Church
• Read, reflect and pray with the Scriptures
• Nourish and strengthen our faith through the Eucharist
• Open “the door of faith” for others.
In part two we will talk more about what we can do together to grow in our faith and to be better disciples and witnesses of the Lord.
— Mary Wieser, director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Davenport
(Students in grades kindergarten through 12 are invited to submit questions about the Catholic Church for The Catholic Messenger’s new Young & Curious feature. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Catholic Messenger, 780 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport, Iowa, 52804.)