'Year of Faith' to challenge our relationship with religion
IN OCTOBER last year Pope Benedict announced a ' Year of Faith', an opportunity to understand more about what we believe, grow in faith, and become closer to God. This special Year will begin on October 11 this year, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In 'The Door to Faith', his Letter announcing the Year of Faith, the Pope has invited individuals, families, parishes, schools, each diocese and the worldwide Catholic community to celebrate and renew their commitment to the journey of faith which began for all of us at baptism.
The Year of Faith will be launched during a Synod in Rome on New Evangelisation, an initiative which is a challenge to deepen our personal relationship with Jesus and a summons to share our faith with others in an increasingly secularised and de- Christianised world.
Pope Benedict feels that the best way to achieve the aims of this year is to look anew at the Second Vatican Council which, correctly interpreted, will serve as "a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning".
He also encourages us to "rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith", clearly outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism are hefty volumes and many might baulk at the prospect of facing into lengthy treaties which could prove to be as challenging as Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake.
Thankfully, the Catechism has been produced in a more accessible, youth-focused format as 'Youcat', readily available for around €10 in bookshops or on Kindle and iPad.
An introductory course on Vatican 11 is being organised locally and, hopefully, will be available at centres throughout the North West. Retreats, Parish Missions, special liturgies, Bible studies and formation sessions on the Catechism and the sacraments will also be arranged.
The Pope sees this Year as "a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist".
Surely this is a call for refreshed and refreshing celebrations with "full, conscious and active participation" which, in the words of Pope Paul VI, will aim to be "decorous, sung, full of poetry, filled with remembrance, symbolism, promise and blessing".
One of the best preparations for the Sunday Eucharist is the Rosary in which we contemplate the events of Christ's life and death which we celebrate at Mass.
It is interesting to note that our fellow Christian brothers and sisters at the famous St. Paul's Cathedral in London have chosen the Rosary as a topic for one of their lectures/workshops this year.
On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, they hope to focus on the Joyful Mysteries and learn "this ancient way of prayer", and "learn to use prayer beads, used by Christians all over the world for many centuries as an aid to stillness and concentration". We could profitably take a leaf from their book in this Year of Faith.