Year of Faith
Families and fathers have a role in the new evangelization
By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor
Imagine, the Catholic Church is setting aside a year to concentrate on faith in Jesus Christ! How simple – yet how deeply meaningful. The Year of Faith has appeal for everyone in the Church, and even those not of the Church, who may wonder what this faith stuff is all about anyway.
We all know what it means at some level of knowledge and experience. We are baptized into the faith, and we profess it every Sunday in the Creed, which now says, “I believe.” Yet do we know faith on a deeper level? By deeper I don’t necessarily mean a theological or master’s level. I mean personal. Do we know and experience faith in a deep and personal manner that will change our lives and the way we look at the world?
I had to chuckle approvingly when I first read last year about Pope Benedict XVI’s proclamation of the Year of Faith. When the world thinks about Catholicism, it wants to talk scandals, wayward priests, women priests, same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception and other “hot-button” issues. And Pope Benedict is more than willing to engage these subjects at the proper time, as he has shown on more than one occasion. But he approaches these and all other topics from the perspective of a disciple of Jesus Christ, a follower and a teacher, who has humbly taken on the mantle of Holy Father to the universal Church. Thus, the Year of Faith will be centered on a Synod on the New Evangelization which occurs in October. The pope has said that families are central to the new evangelization, as parents hand on the faith to their children, and serve as faithful witnesses in the world, which is often set against the tenets of the Catholic faith.
Our faith offers us a well-grounded view of humanity as fallen yet redeemed, as man in need of – and as thirsting for – God, who alone can give the love and hope we need. In fact, all of our lives in based on some form of faith – a human faith in the operations of nature that allow us to rise each morning with hopes and goals, and a supernatural faith that gives the overarching meaning to life. That is, a faith that guides us and allows us to think, act, interact, and even love, because we trust that there is love at the heart of the universe, and a providence that draws us to our ends.
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen,” says the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1). The author doesn’t dwell on this definition, but rather illustrates the meaning of faith by a long series of examples of faith in action. “By faith” Abel offered sacrifice; “by faith” Noah built an ark; “by faith” Abraham obeyed, not knowing the place God called him to, and offered his son because he knew God’s promise was good; “by faith” Moses left Egypt against Pharaoh’s fury and crossed the Red Sea; “by faith” the walls of Jericho fell … and so on all the way to the time of Christ, when faith in the Savior would be fulfilled. Today we are privileged to have the greatest “mystery of faith,” the Eucharist. Pope Paul VI begins his 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei with these words: “The Mystery of Faith, that is, the ineffable gift of the Eucharist that the Catholic Church received from Christ, her Spouse, as a sign of his immense love …”
The history of mankind is marked and guided by it, “for without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6).
This is the year the pope has proclaimed, so simple, so deep. When the year begins on October 11th, let us be prepared to know, love and proclaim our faith, and act with the courage of faith that has made many saints.