A letter to inaugurate the Year of Faith

| September 27, 2012
Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

It is a great pleasure for me to present in this issue of The Catholic Spirit my second pastoral letter, dedicated to the New Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

This message is meant to be shared with every person in the 12 counties that make up this local Church, whether they be Catholic or not. But in a particular way, it is aimed at those who comprise the pastoral leadership of our 195 parishes. I also intend it as a way of inaugurating the Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, which officially begins on Oct. 11, 2012.

Here in the archdiocese, I intend formally to initiate the Year of Faith as well as our “Rediscover:” evangelization program at a vespers service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 in the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

Powerful time with youth

To be honest, I feel as though these evangelization initiatives have already begun with the first Archdiocesan Youth Day held at DeLaSalle High School on Saturday, Sept. 15.  You can read about this exciting gathering in this issue of The Catholic Spirit, and I can personally testify to what a powerful religious experience it was.

The hour of eucharistic adoration that concluded our time together was particularly impressive. The reverential looks on the faces of our youth as the Blessed Sacrament was held before them was deeply moving for me. Those 1,600 Catholic youth convinced me without a doubt that devotion to the person of Jesus is very much alive and active in their lives.

During these initial weeks of the new school year, religious education classes will begin in all of our parishes. This, too, is an important dimension of our evangelization efforts.

Our young people need to know Jesus and develop a personal relationship with him. And when they love him, they will want to know all they can about him.  Hence, the content of our Catholic faith must be learned and properly understood.

It is clear to me that this cannot be done in a single hour each week. Therefore, parents and guardians need to supplement what is presented at the religion classes with extra readings at home. There are excellent resources available to help with this. Contact a local religious goods store for age-appropriate materials.

Building blocks of faith

Matthew Kelly, who has been a great assistance to us in our “Rediscover:” program, makes the claim that 85 percent of those Catholic youth who have been confirmed in the last eight years have left the practice of their faith. If that is true, it ought to be a wake-up call to the whole Catholic community.

For the past five years, I have asked at every one of my confirmations, “What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?” Only three candidates knew the answer. My reason for asking is that you will never use these gifts, if you do not know what they are.

Such content is important, as is the memorization of such prayers as the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, the Memorare and the Apostles’ Creed. In addition, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the seven sacraments, and the mysteries of the rosary should all be memorized by heart.

As a boy, I also found great inspiration in reading the lives of the saints. Many of them became life-long heroes for me.  Each of these methods are important building blocks for knowing our Catholic faith so as to become an evangelizer, a herald of the Gospel!

Finally, I encourage our readership to study the text of my pastoral letter and to reflect on the practical ways in which it can be applied to your lives. As Christian disciples, we find that we are often at odds with the current ideologies of the day.

To proclaim the Gospel convincingly, therefore, requires that we know our faith well and practice it with consistency.

As the Holy Eucharist attests and makes clear, Jesus Christ is alive and, indeed, he has conquered the darkness of sin and death. This indeed is the Good News!  Herein lies our hope and the source of our joy.

God love you!

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Only Jesus

Comments are closed.