Program #0381 for Tuesday, September 25, 2012: Pope Benedict’s Letter for the Year of Faith “Porta Fidei”

September 25, 2012

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Year of Faith and "Porta Fidei"

The Year of Faith and “Porta Fidei”

Summary of today’s show: The Year of Faith will begin on October 11 and in declaring that time for a special consideration of the New Evangelization, Pope Benedict issued a special explanatory letter called “Porta Fidei” (The Door of Faith). Scot Landry, Fr. Chris O’Connor, and Michael Lavigne consider the Pope’s letter and examine just what he means by the New Evangelization, what Catholics are called to do for the Year of Faith, and how faith leads us to abandon ourselves to a love grows constantly because it has its origins in God.

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

Today’s guest(s): Michael Lavigne

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Today’s topics: Pope Benedict’s Letter for the Year of Faith “Porta Fidei”

1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone to the show in which we’ll discuss the upcoming Year of Faith. He said Fr. Chris O’Connor had a busy couple of days, including a concert on Saturday and on Sunday the official installation of Msgr. James Moroney as rector of St. John Seminary. There were many distinguished guests including several bishops and the families of seminarians. They also talked about the annual golf tournament for the seminary that was held recently. It was held at Woodlawn golf course and many of the golfers were pleased to be able to play there. Fr. Chris said the tournament directly impacts the live of seminarians. It funds a discretionary fund for seminarians who might otherwise not have the means to be in seminary. He noted that Fr. Chris Hickey of St. Mary’s in Hanover conducted the live auction and told participants that the fund allows seminarians to give their full-time attention to their studies and formation. Seminarians don’t get paid and don’t have time to have part-time jobs so the fund is their financial assistance throughout the year.

Fr. Chris said he has recently spoken before the Women in God’s Spirit group at St. Mary, Holliston, about the Year of Faith. He said they are a group of 40-50 women who bring in speakers to learn more about their faith and the Church.

2nd segment: Scot suggested the listeners can now watch The Good Catholic Life live during the show at BostonCatholicLive.com. He welcomed Michael Lavigne to the show. Michael said the Year of Faith is Pope Benedict XVI asking to stop and consider the gift of our faith. We can have a tendency to think about our faith in terms of ourselves, rather than as a gift. We should spotlight on the basics of who we are as Catholics. Scot said the Year of Faith is 13 months beginning on October 11. That day marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Chris said both are instrumental in our life. When the Holy Father put out his letter on the new evangelization, he highlighted the Catechism of the Catholic Church as one of the main instruments for teaching and growing in our faith. It is essential that we come to know Jesus Christ and through the Catechism we come to know that. The two great mysteries of life are the incarnation of Christ and the passion of Christ.

Scot said in simple terms there is the turning of the heart toward Jesus, a decision to respond to His love, and then there’s what we know about our faith. The more you want to love Jesus, the more you want to know about the essentials of the faith he gave us.

Michael said he grew up in the 80s and 90s and there was an absence of knowledge of our faith in his religious education. However, there were a lot of good programs to help him encounter Christ. But when he went to college, he hit a wall that challenged his faith and he didn’t have the knowledge of his faith to stand on. He turned his heart to Christ at about 19 years old when he read Pope John Paul’s “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.”

Fr. Chris said the greatest of the virtues above faith and hope is love. When you love, you want to know more about the object of your love. The more we love Christ, the more we want to know more about him. Scot said we have to respond generously to Christ’s invitation to us.

Scot said the Year of Faith is not a Year of the Church or a Year of Catechesis, although we need to know about the Church and we need catechesis. Scot said secularism is trying to de-evangelize us and and crowding out our faith from our life. Pope Benedict wants us to focus on the big questions in our lives. Michael said we are so distracted or afraid that we don’t want to answer them. We run to other temporary solutions. He said we need to stop and be aware of what is around us. We need more silence in our lives to reflect on God in our lives.

Scot said the Year would not be successful if we didn’t first focus on our personal growth. Fr. Chris said faith isn’t a country club, where we sign up and we’re done. It requires very hard work. It’s what Pope Benedict means when he says we grow in our faith. We should take a few moments each day to consider what God wants for our lives. We need to chip away at everything in our lives that aren’t Christ.

Scot quoted from the document:

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.

Scot said right off the bat the pope talks about faith in the trinity. He said one of the best activities we can engage in to make the sign of the cross with even more devotion. We can pray with awareness that God is present in our lives. Michael said too often we turn our back on that door of faith and walk in the other direction. He gave the context of the Scripture from which Pope Benedict took the term the “door of faith” in which the Holy Spirit opened the door of faith the Gentiles.

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.

Scot said membership in the Church by baptism can’t be taken for granted anymore. We can’t take the cultural context for granted either. Fr. Chris said we’re all called to share and acknowledge that Christ is Lord and Savior. This crisis of faith has been a primary subject of Pope Benedict’s ministry. Michael notes how easy to read Pope Benedict is. He says we have lost our way as human beings. Catholics used to be marinated in their faith, surrounded by everything Catholic, and that is no longer the case.

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.

Scot said this goes to our purpose in life. In contrast to being marinated in our faith, we have lost our flavor. Poe Benedict is calling us as Catholic Christians to be flavorful people, not bland. Fr. Chris said if we know Christ, even in our darkest moments we will have the spiritual gift of joy. He said Christians should go to bed exhausted every night from a life spent in service to their neighbor.

Scot said if you feel like you’re not living your faith with enough joy, pray to ask for the Lord to increase your faith and your joy. Michael talked about the story of a Catholic couple in Arizona who showed joy even in spite of the wife’s diagnosis of Stage IV cancer.

Fr. Chris said joy and thanksgiving go hand in hand. We need to count the ways God is blessing us in our children, in our spouse, in the beauty of the day. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving and so we come to Mass every week to give thanks to God for the ways God blesses us.

Scot considered the question posed by Pope Benedict: “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” He answers that the work of God is that we believe in Jesus who has been sent. This is an active belief, not passive. We make a public profession of faith. We need to believe publicly in order to help others come to know Christ. Michael said later Pope Benedict says growing in knowledge means we grow in love and charity. We stand up for truth with love, joy, and charity and patience. We need to be careful about moralism because we need to be patient with those who don’t know Christ.

Fr. Chris said an essential element is that object of faith is not a something, but a someone: Jesus Christ. We believe that there is a God capable of speech and human beings are able to receive what God has to say, which is Revelation. It comes to us through faith and revelation. Who better to tell us about God than God himself. We learn about God’s love for us and that he has a plan,

Scot said we believe because we trust the messenger. Fr. Chris said God is either the author of truth or the author of deceit and if he is a deceiver he is no longer God. Prayer is us communicating to God but when we open Scriptures it is God speaking to us.

3rd segment: Scot said the next section is his favorite:

“Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. 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”.[12] The saintly Bishop of Hippo had good reason to express himself in this way. As we know, his life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith until such time as his heart would find rest in God.[13] His extensive writings, in which he explains the importance of believing and the truth of the faith, continue even now to form a heritage of incomparable riches, and they still help many people in search of God to find the right path towards the “door of faith”.

Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

Scot said the language chosen here is powerful and beautiful. Michael said it is inspiring to read as a reminder of who we need to be based on the gift has given us. Fr. Chris said he loves the line that believers strengthen themselves by believing. He said many people see faith as a personal injury insurance and when something bad happens they lose their faith. Faith is an anchor or rock that we cling to in times of need, that we know Christ is with us in the midst of our suffering.

Scot loves the image of the crescendo. What is the meaning of my life? there is another possibility for certitude unless we abandon ourselves in God. If we want to grow in love of God and others, we want to abandon ourselves to him who will grow love in us. Michael said a married couple’s love will grow if they daily abandon themselves and sacrifice themselves for the other. It’s that lifelong journey in which love grows. As they have more kids, their love grows exponentially, it isn’t divided.

A lot of the Church’s work toward the New Evangelization isn’t about techniques. It’s about changing our hearts. Fr. Chris said Evangelization is about Good News. It’s inherent in us that we desire to spread good news with other people. We desire to share God’s infinite love because we know it, trust it, and believe it.

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