Called to Renew Our Faith
The Apostolic Exhortation from Benedict XVI Porta Fidei, the Door of Faith, invites us to enter into the renewal of our faith, to embark in a journey that will enhance and nurture our Catholic faith in the XXI century.
On October 11, Benedict XVI announced to the universal Church with his apostolic letter "Porta Fidei," a Year of Faith, it will begin Oct. 11, 2012, and conclude Nov. 24, 2013. The dating for the starting and ending of the Year of Faith commemorate important events for the Catholic community:
With the Apostolic Letter of 11 October 2011, Porta fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith. As already stated this year will begin on 11 October 2012, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, called by Blessed Pope John XXIII, and the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, given to the Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II (11 October 1992). It will conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church. …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). Benedict XVI affirms that the door of faith is always open for us. "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, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei for the Indiction of the Year of Faith.
The Year of the Faith is not only an invitation but a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord (PF 6). It is the intention of Benedict XVI to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is"the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ... and also the source from which all its power flows." At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year (PF 9).
The USCCB wrote to all of us Catholics in the US: But did you know that God has opened the door of faith for each one us and he 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 the Eucharist and rediscover the Faith and Church.
In this spirit this conference will focus on faith, as a gift received from God and as a task entrusted to us to make it grow as we live it in our daily lives.
Verbum Domini 20. The economy of revelation has its beginning and origin in God the Father. By his word “the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6). It is he who has given us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2Cor. 4:6; cf. Mt 16:17; Lk. 9:29).
In the Son, “Logos made flesh” (cf. Jn 1:14), who came to accomplish the will of the one who sent him (cf. Jn 4:34), God, the source of revelation, reveals himself as Father and brings to completion the divine pedagogy which had previously been carried out through the words of the prophets and the wondrous deeds accomplished in creation and in the history of his people and all mankind. The revelation of God the Father culminates in the Son’s gift of the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:16), the Spirit of the Father and the Son, who guides us “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13).
All God’s promises find their “yes” in Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 1:20). Men and women are thus enabled to set out on the way that leads to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6), so that in the end “God may be everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28).
Verbum Domini 21. As the cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word. Hanging from the wood of the cross, he lamented the suffering caused by that silence: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46). Advancing in obedience to his very last breath, in the obscurity of death, Jesus called upon the Father. He commended himself to him at the moment of passage, through death, to eternal life: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
This experience of Jesus reflects the situation of all those who, having heard and acknowledged God’s word, must also confront his silence. This has been the experience of countless saints and mystics, and even today is part of the journey of many believers. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence. Hence, in the dynamic of Christian revelation, silence appears as an important expression of the word of God. (Verbum Domini 20).
It is to this revelation that we are called to take a stand.
Called to the covenant with God
Verbum Domini 22. The mystery of the Covenant expresses this relationship between God who calls man with his word, and man who responds, albeit making clear that it is not a matter of a meeting of two peers; what we call the Old and New Covenant is not a contract between two equal parties, but a pure gift of God. By this gift of his love God bridges every distance and truly makes us his “partners”, in order to bring about the nuptial mystery of the love between Christ and the Church. In this vision every man and woman appears as someone to whom the word speaks, challenges and calls to enter this dialogue of love through a free response. Each of us is thus enabled by God to hear and respond to his word. We were created in the word and we live in the word; we cannot understand ourselves unless we are open to this dialogue. The word of God discloses the filial and relational nature of human existence. We are indeed called by grace to be conformed to Christ, the Son of the Father, and, in him, to be transformed
Obedience of faith to God’s revelation
Verbum Domini 25. “‘The obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:26; cf. Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be our response to God who reveals. By faith one freely commits oneself entirely to God, making ‘the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given by God”. In these words the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum gave precise expression to the stance which we must have with regard to God. The proper human response to the God who speaks is faith. Here we see clearly that “in order to accept revelation, man must open his mind and heart to the working of the Holy Spirit who enables him to understand the word of God present in the sacred Scriptures”. It is the preaching of the divine word, in fact, which gives rise to faith, whereby we give our heartfelt assent to the truth which has been revealed to us and we commit ourselves entirely to Christ: “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). The whole history of salvation progressively demonstrates this profound bond between the word of God and the faith which arises from an encounter with Christ. Faith thus takes shape as an encounter with a person to whom we entrust our whole life. Christ Jesus remains present today in history, in his body which is the Church; for this reason our act of faith is at once both personal and ecclesial.
Scripture does not give a definition of what faith is all about. The letter to the Hebrews gives a description of what faith is: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear (Hebrews 11:1).
We believe that what we hope for will be accomplished in due time, and what we hope for is the salvation brought forth by the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Long ago, God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Christ is the Word of God made flesh, He is our Savior, in him we become sons and daughters of God, and we are God’s children. All who received Him (The Word made flesh) who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God (Jn1:12).
We have to become aware that the act of faith is the greatest gift God has given to us. Jesus said: Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away (Jn. 6:37).
We profess our faith each Sunday. I profess the faith, within the community of faith, the Church, and I proclaim that I believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The first proclamation was made by St. Peter in Jerusalem, when the community gathered in the Upper Room awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit, and receiving the gifts of the Spirit, Peter stood up and proclaimed the gospel of salvation (Acts 2:14-36).
There is an urgent need to be renewed in our faith. It seems that we are becoming complacent with the world and losing our being salt of the earth. It is appropriate for us to remember that we are not alone in professing our faith; we have a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, both from the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as from people beginning with the first believers till our day.
The letter to the Hebrews gives an exhaustive list of witnesses beginning with Abraham and Moses, Judges, Prophets. And ends with this statement: they all were looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 11:1-12:3).
In the New Testament the first witness of faithfulness to the Word of God is Mary of Nazareth. The Synodal apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini states:
Verbum Domini 27. The Synod Fathers declared that the basic aim of the Twelfth Assembly was “to renew the Church’s faith in the word of God”. To do so, we need to look to the one in whom the interplay between the word of God and faith was brought to perfection, that is, to the Virgin Mary, “who by her ‘yes’ to the word of the covenant and her mission, perfectly fulfills the divine vocation of humanity”. The human reality created through the word finds its most perfect image in Mary’s obedient faith. From the Annunciation to Pentecost she appears as a woman completely open to the will of God. She is the Immaculate Conception, the one whom God made “full of grace” (cf. Lk 1:28) and unconditionally docile to his word (cf. Lk 1:38). Her obedient faith shapes her life at every moment before God’s plan. A Virgin ever attentive to God’s word, she lives completely attuned to that word; she treasures in her heart the events of her Son, piecing them together as if in a single mosaic (cf. Lk 2:19,51).
In the Apostolic Church till our time we are also surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, martyrs and saints, men and women that gave their life proclaiming the lordship of Christ. Just bring to our heart and mind St. Anthony Mary Claret and Mother Antonia Paris who lived the faith and proclaimed it with courage and love.
San Antonio Maria claret, un hombre de fe viva
¡Con qué fe asistía a todas las funciones de nuestra santa Religión! Las funciones que más me gustaban eran las del Santísimo Sacramento: en éstas, a que asistía con una devoción extraordinaria, gozaba mucho. Además del buen ejemplo que en todo me daba mi querido padre, que era devotísimo del Santísimo Sacramento, tuve yo la suerte de parar a mis manos un libro que se titula Finezas de Jesús Sacramentado. ¡Cuánto me gustaba! De memoria lo aprendía. Tanto era lo que me agradaba. Autobiografía # 37)
Delante del Santísimo Sacramento siento una fe tan viva, que no lo puedo explicar. Casi se me hace sensible, y estoy continuamente besando sus llagas y quedo, finalmente, abrazado con él. Siempre tengo que separarme y arrancarme con violencia de su divina presencia cuando llega la hora. (Autobiografía # 767.
M. Antonia Paris, mujer de fe
M. Antonia fue una mujer de fe, urgida por un amor ardiente a Dios y la Iglesia. En su corazón sólo había un deseo: consagrarse a Dios, ser religiosa, en una palabra, ser toda de El.
Esta fe tan viva que ha puesto Dios en mi alma, me hacía descansar en medio de tantos sobresaltos, y así quiso Dios en esta ocasión dar prueba de que no queda confundido quien en su poder infinito tiene toda su esperanza. (Autografía # 152)Y así armada de confianza con mi Dios, y cierta que sólo Él podía guardarme a mí y a todas las que me había confiado, de tantos y tan inminentes peligros como presentaba un viaje tan espantoso para mujeres (y que quizá nunca se ha visto con iguales circunstancias) dije dentro de mí misma: El Señor es el defensor de mi vida ¿podrán los más graves peligros amedrentarte? Injuria sería esto al cuidado paternal que tiene Dios de sus hijos, que los lleva a la palma de sus manos. Con esta firmísima confianza nos embarcamos, más cierta y más segura que si fuera acompañada de la más fiel escolta. Y ¿qué más fiel escolta que andar bajo la custodia de los Ángeles a quienes Dios ha mandado que te guarden tanto en el mar como en la tierra? Así hablaba la gracia dentro de mí. Esta confianza puso Dios en mi corazón desde que empecé a servirle, y siempre he tenido continuamente delante de mis ojos al Señor, persuadidísima de que está siempre a mi lado para sostenerme. (Autobiografía # 135)
Lo primero que sentí en la primera sensación del corazón fue un profundísimo conocimiento de mi indignidad delante de la Majestad de Dios, que desde aquel momento lo miré real y verdaderamente en mi corazón, este profundísimo conocimiento de mi indignidad me avivaba la fe de mi Dios real en mi corazón y esta certidumbre me hizo derramar una lluvia de lágrimas todo el día, de pura confusión mía, sin poder hacer otra cosa que humillarme delante de mi Señor: ¡Y qué mucho si traía la misma humildad en mi corazón!!!... (Diario #100).
This Year of Faith is the occasion for us to profess our life with deeds and words. It is a good opportunity to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. The challenge ahead of us is to enter into a closer relationship with the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is an open opportunity to listen to the Word of God, to enter into communion with Christ in the Eucharist, to be fed and strengthen to continue our faith journey. In front of us is the challenge to enter into a better and in depth knowledge of our faith.
The Year of Faith is the opportunity to entrust ourselves to God more fully; to take action to proclaim the Good News that nourishes our heart and mind.
The Year of Faith challenges each one of us to intensify the witness of charity, to live in perfect harmony with the recommendations given by St. Paul to the Corinthian community (1Co. 13:4-8a):
love is not jealous or boastful;
Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
believes all things,
hopes all things,
and endures all things.
8 Love never ends
8 Love never ends
Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei (Benedict XVI)
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (Benedict XVI)
Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio Credo of the People of God (Paul VI)