Program #0216 for Tuesday, January 17, 2012: The Year of Faith

January 17, 2012

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor

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Today’s topics: The Year of Faith

Summary of today’s show: Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith to begin in October that will encourage all Catholics to a greater understanding of what they believe and what the Catholic faith teaches. Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor prepare for the Year of Faith by reviewing the Holy Father’s apostolic letter Porta Fidei, introducing the Year, as well as the recommendations from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on how dioceses, parishes, and religious communities can make the Year of Faith a great success and make it spiritually fruitful for the entire Church. They include the Top Ten list of suggestions for both parishes and dioceses.

1st segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Chris back to the show. On Saturday, many of the 4th year seminarians will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Some from other dioceses will be ordained in their cathedrals as well. They will serve as deacons in their parishes until the end of June. The ordination to the priesthood is later this year because Deacon Eric Bennett will be coming back from Rome then to join his classmates for ordination.

They also have the St. Andrew Dinners as well, which brings young men, mostly high school age, to the seminary for a holy hour, dinner, and some talks to give the young men an experience of the seminary and to see that the seminarians are normal guys like them.

Scot and Fr. Chris discussed the football playoffs and the prospects for the Patriots this weekend. Fr. Chris also talked about the upcoming March for Life coming up next Monday. Many seminarians go down for them. Scot said we will have a special show tomorrow, traveling up to St. Mary High School in Lynn, which is sending about 100 students, to interview some of the students and adult leaders.

Today’s topic is the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict has declared for the year beginning in October 2012.

2nd segment: Scot said they would be discussing the Pope’s document Porta Fidei, a letter issued last October 11, which begins:

The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.

Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. During the homily at the Mass marking the inauguration of my pontificate I said: “The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.”[1] It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as 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.[2] Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.

We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6:27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28). We know Jesus’ reply: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn 6:29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.

In the light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II,[3] with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith. This document, an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council, was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 as an instrument at the service of catechesis[4] and it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make “an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith”; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was “individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank”.[5] He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate “exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it”.[6] The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God,[7] intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past.

The name Porta Fideo comes from the first few words of the document in Latin, “the door of faith” We need to let people know that the door of faith is always open and invite them to walk through. Fr. Chris said he was brought back to Rome in the four major basilicas, each of which has a Holy Door, which is opened every 25 years during the Jubilee Years. There are blessings that come through walking through those Holy Doors, but there is also blessings and richness that come from walking through the doors of our church. We come to faith but asking the Lord to give us faith, by using what we have allowing it to prosper and grow in our lives.

Scot said the Year of Faith’s timing is the anniversary of Vatican II and the introduction of the Catechism. Pope Benedict says of this timing:

It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition … I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”

Scot said the Holy Father is emphasizing that Vatican II is underappreciated now just 50 years on, that councils aren’t fully appreciated until decades or a century or more have passed. Fr. Chris said he loves to teach the course on ecclesiology because students appreciate learning about what saints, theologians, bishops and more have taught about the Church. He suggested one of the best Vatican II documents is Lumen Gentium, which deals specifically with the Church. He notes also that the Holy Father specifically mentions the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because there is the basic teachings of our faith, along with the beauty and goodness of our faith, and ultimately Christ.

Scot said the holy Father wants us to encounter Christ through the Vatican II documents and the Catechism. We can prepare for the Year of Faith by reading those, in small doses, a few pages at a time, perhaps some of the Scripture referenced in what you read as well. Fr. Chris said the Catechism is a rich resource. It’s like a dessert, you don’t have too much of a rich things. Take it in small doses. Start with a topic you’re interested in: marriage and family, confession, or the life of prayer.

Scot said the holy Father promises:

Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing”.

Fr. Chris said this is exercising the muscle of faith in order to have it grow and bear fruit.

Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).

Scot said the work of the Church is to know Jesus Christ and love him back, and to be able to practice our acts of charity and love the way Jesus wants us to. Christian charity and secular charity might look the same, but in the hearts of those who practice them, they are not the same. Fr. Chris said when we recognize who Christ is, that he is a gift, it can only prompt us to make a gift of our life to Christ as a mom, dad, priest, etc.

3rd segment: Scot said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also issued recommendations on the implementation of the Year of Faith at three levels: the Universal Church, bishops’ conferences and dioceses, and parishes and families.

The list includes 10 items. The first is to read and meditate upon Pope Benedict’s letter Porta Fidei. Fr. Chris noted listeners today are doing that. It helps readers to consider how they can grow in faith.

The second recommendation is to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist. The Holy Faith wants to ensure that the liturgy is prayed in the way that people live it. Fr. Chris said maybe arrive to Mass a little early to prepare yourself and quiet self before Mass. Maybe don’t leave before the closing prayer and give self completely to the liturgy. Bring to the Eucharist those things things affecting us, including the blessings and sufferings of the week, and say, Lord, I am giving these to you. And make ourselves attentive to the Lord’s Word being proclaimed. Scot added that we should understand we’re not passive spectators at church, but respond to prayer with vigor. Also think through how your children and others are watching what we do, so do everything with intention, like receiving Communion.

Third, priests should devote greater attention to the study of the documents of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, drawing from them resources for the pastoral care of their parishes – catechesis, preaching, Sacramental preparation. Fr. Chris said it reminds priests that they have a sacred role as teacher and if they’re going to teach the faith, then they need to be able to articulate. Fr. Chris said every time he looks at the documents of Vatican II, something new catches his attention. Just because you’ve read it before doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit isn’t going to inspire you with something new.

Fourth, Catechists should hold more firmly to the doctrinal richness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and, under the direction of their pastors. Scot said all good catechesis starts with the Catechism. Put all lessons in the proper context of the teaching of the Church. Have a fresh reading of the Catechism in order to be able to respond to questions about the faith. Fr. Chris said the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization offers a whole certificate program that focuses primarily on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fifth, It is hoped that there will be a renewed commitment in parishes to the distribution of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of other resources appropriate for families, which are true domestic churches and the primary setting for the transmission of the faith. This can be done appropriately during home blessings, baptisms, confirmations, and marriages. It emphasizes that families shouldn’t be outsourcing the faith formation to religious education classes. Fr. Chris said most of the catechism is readily accessible to the average reader and it helps unpack the truth, beauty, and goodness of our faith. He has a friend who said the Catechism certificate revolutionized how he practices his faith.

Sixth, The promotion of missions and other popular programs in parishes and in the workplace can help the faithful to rediscover the gift of Baptismal faith and the task of giving witness, knowing that the Christian vocation “by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate.” Scot said parish missions used to be a very big deal in parishes and it would be a good for parishes to make a commitment of three or four nights in a row. Fr. Chris called it a parish retreat and opportunity to grow in the faith and to remind us of our faith and reenergize us. He encouraged listeners to approach their pastors to ask for them.

Seven addresses religious communities to work toward the new evangelization; Eight, contemplative communities, during the Year of Faith, 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; and Nine, Associations and Ecclesial Movements are invited to promote specific initiatives which, through the contribution of their proper charism and in collaboration with their local Pastors, will contribute to the wider experience of the Year of Faith.

Tenth, All of the faithful, called to renew the gift of faith, should try to communicate their own experience of faith and charity[35] to their brothers and sisters of other religions, with those who do not believe, and with those who are just indifferent. In this way, it is hoped that the entire Christian people will begin a kind of mission toward those with whom they live and work, knowing that they “have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man.”

Fr. Chris said faith is never lived in a vacuum, but is instead shared and offered to others. He said Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn’s book says that from the first sin of Adam and Eve to the present day, wherever sin is, it’s a result of a lack of faith. Where faith abounds, sin decreases.

4th segment: Scot mentioned the diocesan recommendations, starting with “It is hoped that each particular Church would have a celebration of the opening of the Year of Faith and a solemn conclusion to it, in which to “profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world.”” Fr. Chris said it calls the people of the diocese together. Every diocese in the world is asked to do this, which showcases our universal nature. We’re all connected together in this beautiful faith, rooted in the Eucharist.

Second, each diocese would organize a study day on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. How many people have read the Catechism substantially? And if so, how many have done so recently? Fr. Chris said the Daughters of St. Paul edition includes the Scripture passages referenced connected to the Catechism. It helps priests preparing for Mass to reference the Catechism.

Third, it encourages each bishop to write a pastoral letter on the topic of faith, reminding them of the importance of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism. Scot said Cardinal Seán will probably write one of his own. Fr. Chris said it helps the Church in Boston to reflect on what we should all be considering together.

Fourth, it is hoped that in each Diocese, under the leadership of the Bishop, catechetical events will be organized, especially for the youth and those searching for a sense of life, helping them to discover the beauty of ecclesial faith, promoting encounters with meaningful witnesses to the faith. Scot said do a youth event with a goal of teaching what the Church believes through witnesses. Fr. Chris said the Church is again saying the young people are the future of our Church. We need to help them encounter Christ because once you encounter Him there is no turning back.

Fifth, each diocese should review the reception of Vatican II and the Catechism in its own life and mission, particularly in the realm of catechesis. Fr. Chris said so many people want to quote Vatican II until you ask them to show you where it is in the text. The more we can all look at what the documents actually teach, the better off we’ll all be. When we teach the truth, it’s attractive. Anything less isn’t worth hanging your soul on. If we can proclaim it convincingly, there’d be no stopping us. Scot said he guess less than 5,000 people in this diocese have read the Catechism or documents of Vatican II. his hope is that number would multiply by several times so that most people who are passionate about their faith will be able to pass it on to others. Fr. Chris said faith is an investment. The more fully you give yourself to it, the more fully you will reap the rewards.

Sixth, The continuing education of the clergy can be focused during this Year of Faith on the documents of Vatican Council II and on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, treating such themes as “the proclamation of the Risen Christ”, “the Church – sacrament of salvation”, “the mission of evangelization in the world today”, “faith and disbelief”, “faith, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue”, “faith and eternal life”, “the hermeneutic of reform in continuity” and “the Catechism in ordinary pastoral care.”

Seventh, Bishops are invited to organize penitential celebrations, particularly during Lent like The Light Is On For You, in which all can ask for God’s forgiveness, especially for sins against faith. This Year also provides an appropriate occasion in which all can approach the Sacrament of Penance with greater faith and more frequently. Fr. Chris said sins against the faith could include just saying I don’t believe anymore. Faith is not an emotion. It’s a choice we have to make. There is also a sin of presumption, that presumes on God’s mercy that we will get to heaven no matter what.

Eight encourages a renewed creative dialogue between faith and reason in the academic and artistic communities. Nine promotes encounters with those persons who, “while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world”. Ten encourages greater attention to Catholic schools, especially through the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the YouCat.

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