A Shepherd's Message: The Year of Faith

October 16, 2012

In everyday life, we go through doorways and cross thresholds all the time. Such physical movement has also been frequently transferred to and transformed into other dimensions of our life — into metaphors! For example, there is an expression of a “door of opportunity” that refers to our ability to act and respond to events; “crossing a threshold of hope” signifies an entrance into a new and inviting phase of personal or corporate meaning.

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the whole Church to celebrate a Year of Faith from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013. The document summoning us to this reality is called “Porta Fidei,” or “The Door of Faith.” The opening date of the Year of Faith remembers the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council that occurred on Oct. 11, 1962; the 50 years since that time have been extremely important for the whole Church and the fruits of the Council themselves invite a time of prayer, reflection, solidarity and action.

The closing date is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year for 2013 and becomes a final reminder that every origin, goal and opportunity of faith is in Christ Jesus, crucified and risen: the One who leads us across the threshold to eternal life with God.

The Holy Father, using a beautiful metaphor, states that the door of faith is always open! It is through that door that we are offered friendship — communion — with God and a place in the Church. It marks a journey that lasts a lifetime.

Pope Benedict mentions in “Porta Fidei” that he has become more and more convinced since becoming Pope that all Christian people need to rediscover the journey of faith; that faith is a dynamic “walk” with Christ Jesus, a continual opportunity to learn from Him, to meet Him and to grow in enthusiasm about faith and share the faith. The Holy Father is talking about evangelization, spreading the Gospel by personal conversion, credibility of witness by living the faith, outreach to those in need and passing on to others the results of the ongoing “journey of faith.” The Pope has decided to call for a Year of Faith so that we might all become more intentional about our faith and the effect that our living faith has on others. We are salt and light! The salt cannot become tasteless nor can the light be hidden.

The Holy Father also reminds us that in the past we could take for granted that faith was a “self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied.” The Pope has stated something very important about the culture and temper of our times in the western world and even in the United States. A profound crisis of faith has affected a large number of people. Statistics about religious faith and practice, whatever may be their ultimate value, do give us a sense of great hesitation by many people to commit to religious faith or to be specific about either the basis of their lives or the final goal of their lives. Hesitation and vagueness do not produce disciples of vigor and boldness!

The person and teachings of Jesus, however, still resound in our day with the same force they had when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well or to little Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed a tree out of curiosity to see Jesus and found himself inviting Jesus to his home.

I hope to be writing about the Year of Faith often during the next 13 months. For this first endeavor I want to ask a favor of every Catholic in this local Church of Galveston-Houston. During the next year, select one of the four Gospels and gently, slowly and prayerfully read it through from beginning to end. Read it as a meditation; read it as a personal gift to you and then to your family. Read it every day…just a few verses each day. Let the Word of the Lord sink into you gradually. This will be a great start for all of us together to celebrate a Year of Faith, a time our Holy Father has said will help us shed clearer light on the joy and enthusiasm that should mark our lives since we have met Jesus, love Him and want to make Him better known and loved!