In a few days we begin a Year of Faith. If this is news to any readers, don’t feel alone. A survey would no doubt show that most Catholics missed that news. It’s especially easy to miss during a national election season, when political advertising keeps hammering us for attention.
This seems a perfect time to welcome a turn to our own inner compass of faith. Politics is important, but prior to it are the people of the political community. Are we thoughtful, directed by a vision that sees beyond immediate goods and satisfactions? Does our seeking, our hoping, rise from an expanding inner universe of the soul which seeks always greater good, greater beauty, greater truth, greater unity of life?
This Year of Faith is an appeal from Pope Benedict XVI to all Catholics for a basic renewal. Drop everything else and simply “rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”
Forget everything else and look again at Jesus in the Gospels. Let that be the fundamental lesson of love that we absorb, remember, return to and radiate in our lives. The spirit of our lives ought to be, and can be, the same as that of Jesus, the anointed one of God.
It’s not a difficult thing. Only take the time to focus on this faith.
The Catholic Year of Faith begins Oct. 11, 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. That was the Church’s great step in bringing the faith into conversation with the industrialized, digitized, global “world” of today. This special year ends on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 24, 2013. Will the world be a better place by then? It could be, but that depends on how we — each of us, each “me,” each “I,” — open ourselves to a renewal of that joy and enthusiasm found in the moment of pure faith.
…and its exercise
Each of us has our own way of showing the faith we have. The way of the salesman has special features different from the doctor or the teacher or the student or mechanic or soldier or farmer or waitress. But we all bring our true selves to work, and over time that truth shows. We all need to assess from time to time what it is we’re showing.
The leadership of big business is an example of this need. When driven only by a desire for profits, we know what damage can be done to communities, the environment and the dignity of workers. We want businesses that operate as community citizens, providing useful goods and services while inspiring the respect of workers and customers. They need to be dynamic, attentive to profit, but in proportion to other goods.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster in London, England, last month convened top business leaders in Britain to reflect on how the values of our faith can contribute to a thriving and respected business climate as well as the common good. He encouraged them to always seek balance and then proposed seven “foundational principles” to guide the ethical conduct of business.
His first two principles are the innate dignity of every person and the common good of society. He described the common good as “the set of social conditions that allow people to more easily develop, individually and communally.” Then the values of solidarity and subsidiarity keep management in touch with both community needs and resources.
More key principles of Archbishop Nichols are justice — simply an honest giving of what is due — and fraternity, or openness to truly understanding the needs of others. Finally, he asked for sustainability, or a responsibility to think about the needs of future generations.
These seven values — human dignity, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, justice, fraternity and sustainability — are useful guides for any of us in putting our faith to work. Make them habits and who knows what might happen. A year of faith becomes a life of faith, love is loose in the world and everything is transformed.