Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of Faith that runs from October 11th, 2012 to November 24th, 2013.
This move is related to two anniversaries. One is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the other the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There is also a major event related to the Year of faith which is the Synod of Bishops on the theme ‘The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian faith.’
Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith)
The Pope has issued an Apostolic Letter proclaiming the Year of faith titled, ‘Porta Fidei’ or ‘The door of faith.’ He uses the ‘door’ as an image of faith. Paul and Barnabas, returning after their missionary journey to different lands, sailed back to Antioch. ‘When they arrived they called the Churches together and related all that God has done with them and how he opened a door of faith to the Gentiles’ (Acts 14:27).
The door ‘is always open for us.’ It welcomes us into a communion with God and offers entry into his Church. There are two essential elements that makes possible the entry through this door namely proclamation of the Word of God and allowing the same word to shaping the heart with its transforming grace. Entering this door is a life long journey that begins with our baptism and continues till death to eternal life.
Know the Faith
The document gives beautiful reflections on the theme of faith. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. ‘Standing with the Lord’ would signify understanding the reasons for believing. We must know the contents of faith. Knowing well what exactly is to be believed is essential for giving one’s own assent that is to say for adhering fully with the intellect and will to what the Church proposes.
‘Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God.’ Believing means, ‘we accept the whole mystery of faith.’ Both our intellect and will must make its choice to believe only then can we feel comfortable to remain with the Lord.
The acceptance of faith
Focusing on Jesus is essential to lead a life of true Christian faith. Jesus attracts to himself people of every generation. It clearly states that ‘The Year of Faith… is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord the Saviour of the world.’ He is the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). The reasons for keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and contemplating in his Incarnation, death and Resurrection are:
a) In him all the anguish and all the longing of human finds fulfillment
b) Fulfills the joy of love
c) Gives answer to the drama of suffering and pain
d) The power of forgiveness in the face of offense received
e) The victory of life over emptiness of death
f) The examples of faith that has marked the two thousand years of our salvation history are brought to the fullness of light.
The document tells us that By faith, we too live. It is the living recognition of the Lord Jesus. There are people who are born and brought up as Christians but are totally ignorant of the person of Christ. The life, works and message of Christ are alien to them. This year of faith calls every Christian to recognize this Christ ‘present in our lives and in our history.’
St. Augustine is given as one of the bright examples of this journey of faith. The pope tells that ‘his life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith until such thing as his heart could find rest in God.’ His extensive writings still help people to find the right path towards the ‘door of faith.’ This year of faith must turn out to be an occasion during which the entire Church may undertake a renewed outlook on the faith by a deeper study of the Christian Doctrine and delve deeper into the mystery of Christ.
– – – written by Fr. Freddie Pereira SDB