The year was still young when our Holy Father decreed that 2012 was to be The Year of Faith. I may have missed the news, or if I heard it, I missed the importance, and sadly overlooked the possibility of the good it could bring – universally and personally. The year began officially earlier in October, not long after which, Sarah made reference to it here. That, along with the addition of two new Doctors of the Church, and the Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, thankfully brought this Papal gift onto my radar.
Personal faith naturally ebbs and flows. I was greatly blessed as a young adult to belong to a very dynamic parish. I learned so much through the homilies, prayer groups, young adult groups, missions, retreats, spiritual direction, fellowship, reading, and so on. It was fertile ground for a hungry soul to really flourish in. Since then, I seem to have lost the zeal for studying our faith. I’m not as fervent as I used to be, to share my faith with others, whether they also are Catholic, or are simply curious and open. I think I’ve been missing something very vital, very special, and I want it back.
I feel very strongly that it is very important for women to hear this call. We know that a woman is the heart of the home, that spiritual things come more naturally to women, and that women have the power to influence society. If we, as Catholic women, take full advantage of what is being offered in this Year of Faith, think what blessings will fall on our children, our husbands, friends, colleagues, neighbours?
What better time than now to reinvigorate my faith? How can I ignore our Holy Father’s invitation to enter into this time of conversion? With this resolve firmly in my heart, I have begun to read the documents pertaining to the Year of Faith, and have been thinking about how I will participate. I have to have a plan, you see, or else the whole year will pass me by, leaving me next November regretting that I hadn’t been more focused and deliberate in my approach.
From Annus Fidei: “Faith is “first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed””
We also read: “The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today - capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the “door of faith.” 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.”
What struck me in those words is faith is a free assent to the whole truth. As Catholics, we know the greatest gift God gave us is that of free will. We are not compelled (beyond the compulsion of Love) to hold and profess the Faith. I also zeroed in on credible and joy-filled witnesses. For me, this means that I should return to some program of theological study. Apologetics is not my greatest strength – I know some who are natural evangelists and apologists, but I am not one of them. That doesn’t excuse me from being able to answer for my faith, however. I think even more importantly, I feel called to return to a sense of joy... to be a joy-filled witness. I used to be in love with being Catholic. I know the love is still there, and it’s more than time to unearth it and polish it up again.
There are several ways we can take part in this Year of Faith. First of all, we are encouraged to read Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei. Other suggestions have been made here, in the Pastoral Recommendations.
The Year of Faith is not only about knowledge – we do not make the faith appealing to unbelievers solely, or even mostly, by how well we know it – it is about our own relationship with the faith. That requires spending quality time with what it is we profess to believe: God Himself. And so, after reading the recommendations, I resolve:
To spend time in prayer, reflection, and contemplation.
I will nurture the faith I have, and hope to see it grow and become more fruitful. To further this aim, I will more regularly read the Catechism, and reread the four documents of the Second Vatican Council mentioned in the recommendation. (Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Dei Verbum, Gaudium et Spes)
I will make a pilgrimage this year, specifically with The Year of Faith in mind. I don’t know yet to which shrine. The details will come in the right time.
Make more frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I will share my faith with those who are seeking for meaning, for truth in their own life.
There are plenary indulgences granted for meeting any of the four conditions laid out: Attending at least three homilies or lectures on the Catechism or the Second Vatican Council; Making a pilgrimage to designated sites; partaking of the Holy Mass on days specified by the Ordinary; Renewing baptismal promises in the place in which we received the Sacrament of Baptism. We must also, of course, be repentant, go to Confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the Pope.
Aside from the personal good of (hopefully) increased, dynamic, joy-filled faith and the plenary indulgences, I believe there is infinite possibility of blessing and goodness for those we love and those we pray for. The world is in great need for us to take up this challenge! I believe God’s heart is calling to us, is yearning for us to come seeking Him more earnestly, more intently.