Counting down to the Year of Faith

| September 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Year of Faith set to begin in October is an opportunity for Catholics to walk more closely with Jesus and renew efforts to make his name known and loved in the world, said the director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.

“This year needs to be a chance for us as individual Catholics and Christians to renew our own commitment to the call to be holy, to the call to be disciples,” said Father John Paul Erickson. “I hope it’s a chance for all of us to recommit and rediscover the joy of the pilgrimage of the Christian way of life.”

Pope Benedict XVI announced last year that the Year of Faith would begin Oct. 11 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will run through Nov. 24, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.

He made the announcement in an apostolic letter titled “Porta Fidei” (“The Door of Faith”) in which he called for a deeper study of the catechism and the creed as well as more acts of charity.

Pope Benedict said the Year of Faith, which flows from his call for a new evangelization, was an opportunity to give “renewed energy to the mission of the whole church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life.”

In the lead up to the official start of the year, Archbishop John Nienstedt is planning to release a pastoral letter later this month on the new evangelization. And, Bishop Lee Piché will lead a pilgrimage Oct. 2 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. (Watch upcoming issues of The Catholic Spirit for other local Year of Faith events as they’re announced.)

Leaven in society

The need to recommit ourselves to the church and its mission is particularly important in a society that promotes individualism, materialism and the idea that science holds the answer to every human problem while casting religion as “a purely subjective matter that doesn’t have any wide import on society,” Father Erickson said.

The new evangelization, he said, holds that faith should not be relegated to a small corner of our lives but is “meant to be a leaven in all of society and that society is better when Christianity is heard and allowed to flourish. Why? Because we believe it has the fundamental answers to the deepest questions of the human heart: Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?”

“The new evangelization seeks to answer these questions using the ever-ancient answers of Jesus, of faith, of the church — but expressed in bold, fresh ways,” he added.

Connection with council

Proclaiming the faith in new ways that speak to the particular challenges of contemporary society was a major theme of the Second Vatican Council, Father Erickson said.

The council’s proclamation of the universal call to holiness also is deeply connected to the ideas of the new evangelization.

“One of the true hallmarks of the Second Vatican Council was a reminder that the call to be holy is not just for priests, not just for nuns — it’s for everybody,” Father Erickson said. “Everybody has this call to take up their cross and follow Jesus. . . . We are called to be saints, nothing less.”

The council, he said, also said the church “needs to be where people are at . . . and to not be afraid to dive right into the current debates of the day.”

Being “where people are at” also is a theme of the new evangelization, Father Erickson added. Some current examples of this approach include Theology on Tap events that feature theology discussions for young adults in bar settings, or maintaining a faithful Catholic presence on blogs and popular social media sites.

Ideas for families

There are many ways families and individuals can enter more deeply into the Year of Faith and tune up their spiritual lives, said Father Erickson, who offered these suggestions:

  • Recommitting to regular prayer time in addition to attending Sunday Mass. This could include reading a psalm as part of evening prayer, reciting the Our Father or praying the rosary as a family.
  • Praying before meals and, once a week, taking turns reflecting on the basic truths of the faith and the creed. “You don’t need to have a theology degree to reflect on these beliefs,” Father Erickson said. “Sometimes children have some very beautiful insights that can be very life-giving and life-affirming.”
  • Joining a Bible study group, going on a pilgrimage or spending 10 minutes a day or per week in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to be in the presence of Jesus. For those who have been in a spiritual rut, the Year of Faith “can be a great chance to begin again,” he said.

For more resources and information about the Year of Faith, visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith. This story contains information from Catholic News Service.

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Category: Year of Faith