Saturday, October 13, 2012

Year of Faith

Year of Faith

Thursday, 10/11/2012, started the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI. I'm wondering how I could make this time meaningful to me. I hope to occasionally blog some of my thoughts. The Year of Faith commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Council in the Vatican, and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic faith.

The USCCB tells us this: “The upcoming Year of Faith is a ‘summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world’ (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The ‘door of faith’ is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.”

I think, for most of us, especially myself, we can participate in this Year of Faith into two ways: 1) to catechize ourselves, to learn our faith in a more deeper sense, and; 2) to evangelize others, to bring others to our faith. I think the first is important because we live in a very secularized society. Know it or not, it has an effect on us, in the TV we watch, in the secular books we read, in common conversations. God has been kick-out of the public forum. Our children cannot pray in school, it is not politically correct to discuss our faith in public. Yet, that is exactly what we are called to do. To do so, we need to know the subject matter, it would be hard to make any arguments at all if we do not know the very faith that we profess; and sadly, many of us don't know our faith. Our religious education more or less stopped in the eighth grade unless we were blessed to attend a Catholic high school. Few of us read Scripture as a family and talked about what we read. We are fed at Sunday Mass by the readings and a homily, if that homily was well prepared, but how many of us Catholics do attend Mass regularly?

There are so many souls out there looking to be filled, to satisfy that inner emptiness, and many don't know what that emptiness is. They fill this void with alcohol or drugs, pornography and material things – the more the better. But it does not fill them, and so they think more alcohol or more drugs will fill that need. We worry about our physical health, our mental health, our emotional health, but how much time and effort we spend on our spiritual selves. Those seeking to fill that void only need to turn to God. That longing for the Other, our Creator, is built within us by the very act of our creation and the infusion of our souls at conception. That void is simply filled when we turn away from ourselves and focus on God and our fellow man. Joyful we are when we experience that right relationship with God, when we do something, no matter how simple, for another without expectation of repayment.

Many of us have not been happy with all the changes stemming from Vatican II. It seems there were too many changes too quickly, it seems we were on a runaway train; at times it seems we were changing for the sake of change. Certain elements in the church were not satisfied; they wanted more and more change. Some things that have bothered me are the loss of the sacredness, the relegation of the Tabernacle away from the central focus to some side room, the building of new churches looking more like theaters around, Perpetual Adoration and holy hours. Yet I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was working with the Pope and the Bishops during the Council leading the church in the direction the Spirit wanted it to go. I miss the Latin, though I didn't understand it, I had to follow along in my Missile. It was comforting matter were in the world we were we would hear the same words. But there were so many at Mass who prayed their personal devotions or the rosary during the Mass and not the Sacrifice that was being offered. Our attention was only brought to focus with the ringing of the bells at the Consecration. I miss the church bells, the incense, and like I said the feeling of holiness and sacredness in the presence of God in church.

We are in a period of correction. In some ways John Paul II and Benedict XVI have put on the brakes. In the long run I see a very vibrant church with true and active Catholics.

So I will begin this Year of Faith by reading some of the Vatican II documents, starting with the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). I will try to be a more public Catholic and look for opportunities to call others to faith.

I hope you will make this year meaningful, and I hope you'll join me in my efforts to learn my faith more deeply and to call others to grow in their relationship with God.

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