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Celebrating The Year of Faith
Opening the Door of Faith to All
From time to time throughout the history of the Church, the Pope has called upon the faithful to re-dedicate themselves to living more of a faith-centered life, one in which we turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Him.
In a somewhat recent example, Pope Paul VI announced a Year of Faith commemorating the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul in 1967. The theme that year focused on calling the church to evoke the supreme act of witness by these two brave men so that their martyrdom might galvanize the present day Church in making a genuine profession of faith, both as a congregation and individually. Had the 12 Apostles been a hockey team, St Peter would have undoubtedly worn the Captain's "C" on the chest of his vestments, having founded the Church of Antioch where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. St Paul was perhaps the greatest Missionary of them all, and the letters he wrote to the Churches that he formed are habitually read during weekly Mass. Both died for their faith, following in the footsteps of Christ and serving as role models for us all thus making the year in faith tie-in logical, poignant and perfectly appropriate.
The upcoming Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI is a "summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world" (Porta fideli 6). This presents the Catholic Christian with a golden opportunity to turn back to Jesus and achieve that concentrated, all engaging relationship that He promises to all that seek it. Many Catholics stand at the threshold of this door of faith but are reluctant to gyrate the door knob, and the reasons for this are of course numerous. Catholics are implored to let go of those oftentimes illogical and/or fear-based excuse-cloaked reasons and place their trust in God.
So how can we maximize our Year of Faith experience? For starters, Catholics can study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they can deepen their overall knowledge of their faith. One wouldn't enter into a business agreement without as much knowledge as possible, so it stands to reason that your faith experience would be far more powerful if you had a greater overall understanding of your commitment. Experiencing the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, is vital. Holy Communion is the lifeblood of any truly meaningful relationship with Jesus, for when you partake of his body and blood you become one with Jesus both spiritually and physically. Sharing this gift of faith is vital as well. Invite a friend to church on Sunday, perhaps with the promise of donuts and coffee afterwards, so that he or she can be exposed to God's goodness. Your guest may be provoked into thought over something heard during the homily thus compelling them to return the following week. And the week after.
In a world that continues to move in a more secular direction, opportunities such as these must be seized. Do not let the Year of Faith pass by without giving a genuine effort to strengthen and foster your relationship with Jesus.