A NOTE ON THE YEAR OF FAITH – "PORTA FIDEI" [Acts. 14:27]
"…They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith..."(Acts 14:27).
In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church.But we all have to know that God once has opened the door of faith for each one us and he constantly invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him.The upcoming Year of Faith is an opportunity for every Catholic to turn towards Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments, especially insacrament of the Holy Eucharist and rediscover the Faith and Church.
With his Apostolic Letter of October 11, 2011,PortaFidei. . . , Pope Benedict XVI declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013. October 11, 2012, the first day of the Year of Faith, is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect both on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism, so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith, which is an on-going Christian formation,and to articulate the very object of faith, and thus to put into practice in life what they believe.The upcoming Year of Faith is a "summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world" (PortaFidei 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 special year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church. "The 'door of faith' (Acts14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church."---Pope Benedict XVI.
The following are the pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith in the context of a parish Church, given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These are only Summarised extracts.
- All of the faithful are invited to read closely and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter, "PortaFidei".
- Intensifying the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, in which the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened. All of the faithful are invited to participate in the Eucharist actively, fruitfully and with awareness.
- Priests should devote greater attention to the study of the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, apply this to their pastoral care and offer cycles of homilies on the faith or on certain specific aspects.
- Catechists should hold more firmly to the doctrinal richness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and guide groups of faithful towards a deeper common understanding thereof.
- Parishes can help to distribute the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other resources appropriate for families - the primary setting for the transmission of the faith - for example, during the blessing of homes, the Baptism of adults, Confirmation and Marriage.
- Promoting missions and other popular programmes in parishes and in the workplace, to help the faithful rediscover the gift of baptismal faith and the task of giving witness.
- Members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life are asked to work towards the new evangelization, each according to their proper charism.
- Contemplative communities should pray specifically for the renewal of the faith among the People of God, and for a new impulse for its transmission to the young.
- Associations and Ecclesial Movements are invited to promote specific initiatives, through the contribution of their proper charism.
- All of the faithful should try to communicate their own experience of faith and charity to their brothers and sisters of other religions, believers and non-believers. In this way, it is hoped that the entire Christian people will begin a kind of mission towards those with whom they live and work.
The Note concludes by stating that "the recommendations provided here have the goal of inviting all of the members of the Church to work so that this Year may be a special time in which we, as Christians, may share that which is most dear to us: Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind".
In his apostolic letter, the pope said the year's focus will be on Jesus Christ because "in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment."Pope Benedict said that in addition to studying the catechism and gaining a greater understanding of the creed, the Year of Faith also must be accompanied with more acts of charity.We need to do as the pope has asked of us, and recognize the face of Christ in those who are suffering, and reach out to those who need the love of Christ most. "It is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbor along the journey of life," the pope wrote.
Pope Benedict said Catholics cannot "grow lazy in the faith."What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end," the pope wrote.
Let us participate in this Year of Faith in a way that wakes us all from our spiritual laziness. Let this year provide us the reflection on and connection to our faith that brings out the best of what Christ wants of us all; to love one another as he has loved us.
It is not just coincidence that a pilgrimage is being organized in the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, and that it begins immediately after the solemn inauguration of the "Year of Faith" in our Diocese, on the evening of Thursday, the 11th of October 2012, with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided over by His Excellency, Rt Rev. Dr Joseph Kariyil, the Bishop of Cochin, together with all the priests in the Diocese, following the recommendation that " Encouraging pilgrimages of the faithful to the See of Peter and to the Holy Land". It is also announced that another pilgrimage will be organized for the parishioners of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica during the year of faith to the Holy City of Rome, the See of Peter.
MAY THE YEAR OF FAITH BE FOR US A PERIOD OF GOD'S CHOICEST BLESSINGS AND GRACES.