It is with joy and hope that we mark the Year of Faith announced by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It begins on 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will close on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
In his letter entitled “Porta Fidei” (“The Door of Faith”), the pope invites us:
(1) to grow in our relationship with Jesus,
(2) to celebrate our faith,
(3) to witness to our faith.
In reference to his letter, I would like to suggest a few concrete ways that this special year can help us appreciate the awesome gift of faith.
First, the Year of Faith comes at an opportune time for us in the Diocese of London. We are presently entering our third year of Spiritual Renewal. During this time, parishes have been availing themselves of many opportunities for spiritual renewal, for example, the small groups following Arise Together in Christ, a Bible study group or a prayer group. These are opportunities for parishioners to support one another as they seek to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
In addition to these parish experiences, we develop a living relationship with Jesus through the practice of personal prayer, reading Scripture and reflecting on his presence in our daily lives. Frequent celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation enables us to take to heart the ongoing call to conversion and draw closer to Jesus.
In the course of the Year of Faith, I encourage you to make every effort to participate in an activity of spiritual renewal in our parishes.
Second, the pope tells us that the Year of Faith is a good opportunity to celebrate our faith in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist (Porta Fidei, 9).
Goal #4 of our diocesan Pastoral Plan states: “we will make provision for meaningful liturgical celebrations in our parish communities to ensure full, conscious and active participation by all.” This goal refers to the renewal of the liturgy initiated at the Second Vatican Council. Last year, our parishes made a concerted effort to implement the revised Roman Missal and to instruct parishioners about the central meaning of the Eucharist in their lives.
I encourage you to assist at the Sunday Eucharist in your parish and to strive for a ìfull, conscious and activeî participation in these liturgies.
Third, the Year of Faith is an opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. Quoting from the Gospel of Matthew, the pope says: “Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40)” (Porta Fidei, 14). Through the witness of love that we give, especially to the poor and vulnerable, we can open the door of faith to others. This is the work of evangelization, of bringing Jesus’ love to all peoples.
The pope points out that: “Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him” (Porta Fidei, 10). Believing in Jesus is not a private act but a public testimony. Our faith gives us the courage to speak about God and to bear witness to the truth in a society that often ignores or rejects him. Study of the Catechism and the documents of the Second Vatican Council can help us understand our faith better and strengthen our witness in our families, our places of work and the society in which we live.
I encourage you this year to take time to learn more about the faith, for example, by reading the Catechism, and to take on a special work of charity or social justice, for example, through an initiative of your parish or through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In announcing the Year of Faith, the pope emphasizes that the door of faith is always open for us (Porta Fidei, 1). My prayer is that together we will enter this door. May the Year of Faith be an occasion to celebrate our Catholic faith and to deepen our friendship with Jesus. May the joy that we manifest in our lives be an invitation to others to discover the great gift of faith.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Ronald Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London
Contact Mark Adkinson for more information
Phone : 519-433-0658 x227