The Year of Faith October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.

 

On the Year of Faith
"It Would Be Opportune to Remember the Beauty and the Centrality of the Faith"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday and today there was an important event here at the Vatican regarding the new evangelization, an event that concluded this morning with a Eucharistic celebration over which I presided in St. Peter's Basilica. The initiative, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, had the main objective of going deeper into the issues surrounding a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in nations with an ancient Christian tradition, and at the same time, it presented various testimonies and significant experiences. Numerous people from around the world have responded to this invitation, people committed to this mission, which Blessed John Paul II already clearly indicated to the Church as an urgent and gripping challenge.

[John Paul II] -- in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Council, and those of Paul VI, the one who put the council's implementation into motion -- was, in fact, a tireless defender of the mission ad gentes, that is, to the peoples and territories where the Gospel has not yet put down roots, as well as a herald of the new evangelization.

These are aspects of the one mission of the Church, and it is therefore meaningful to consider them together in this month of October, marked by the celebration of World Mission Day, precisely next Sunday.

Just as I did a few minutes ago in the homily of the Mass, I happily take advantage of this opportunity to announce that I have decided to convoke a special "Year of Faith," which will begin Oct. 11, 2012 -- the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council -- and will conclude Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe.

I have explained the motives, goals and guidelines of this year in an apostolic letter that will be published soon. The Servant of God Paul VI convoked a similar "Year of Faith" in 1967, on the occasion of the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, during a period of great cultural changes. I believe that, now that a half century has passed since the opening of the Council, and linked to the happy memory of Blessed John XXIII, it would be opportune to remember the beauty and the centrality of the faith, the need to strengthen and deepen it, both at the personal and the community level, and to do this in a perspective that is not so much celebratory, but rather, missionary -- precisely in the perspective of the mission ad gentes and the new evangelization.

Dear friends, in the liturgy of this Sunday, we read what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction." May this word from the Apostle of the Gentiles be the promise and the program for the missionaries of today -- priests, religious and laity -- committed to proclaim Christ to those who do not know him, or those who have reduced him to a mere historical figure. May the Virgin Mary help each Christian to be an effective witness of the Gospel.


[After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the crowds in several languages. In English, he said:]

I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that over and above our duties to one another and to the civil authorities, we have obligations to Almighty God. We pray for the wisdom always to recognize where our duty lies, and in all things to give due praise and honour to our Creator and Redeemer. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Porta Fidei:  Apostolic Letter on the Year of Faith



VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is Benedict XVI's apostolic letter "Porta Fidei," dated Oct. 11, and released by the Vatican today. With this letter the Pope announced a Year of Faith, which will begin Oct. 11, 2012, and conclude Nov. 24, 2013.

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Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data"

Porta Fidei

of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI

for the Indiction of the Year of Faith

1. The "door of faith" (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.

2. Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. During the homily at the Mass marking the inauguration of my pontificate I said: "The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance."[1] It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied.[2] Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.

3. We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: "Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life" (Jn 6:27). The question posed by his listeners is the same that we ask today: "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" (Jn 6:28). We know Jesus’ reply: "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (Jn 6:29). Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.

4. In the light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11. October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II,[3] with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith. This document, an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council, was requested by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 as an instrument at the service of catechesis[4] and it was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith". This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967, to commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on the 19th centenary of their supreme act of witness. He thought of it as a solemn moment for the whole Church to make "an authentic and sincere profession of the same faith"; moreover, he wanted this to be confirmed in a way that was "individual and collective, free and conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank".[5] He thought that in this way the whole Church could reappropriate "exact knowledge of the faith, so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it".[6] The great upheavals of that year made even more evident the need for a celebration of this kind. It concluded with the Credo of the People of God,[7] intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past.

5. In some respects, my venerable predecessor saw this Year as a "consequence and a necessity of the postconciliar period",[8] fully conscious of the grave difficulties of the time, especially with regard to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation. It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, "have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church's Tradition ... I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning."[9] I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: "if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church."[10]

6. The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. The Council itself, in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, said this: While "Christ, ‘holy, innocent and undefiled’ (Heb 7:26) knew nothing of sin (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), but came only to expiate the sins of the people (cf. Heb2:17)... the Church ... clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. The Church, ‘like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26). But by the power of the risen Lord it is given strength to overcome, in patience and in love, its sorrow and its difficulties, both those that are from within and those that are from without, so that it may reveal in the world, faithfully, although with shadows, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it shall be manifested in full light."[11]

The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31). For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: "We were buried ... with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. "Faith working through love" (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

7. "Caritas Christi urget nos" (2 Cor 5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. 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. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, "strengthen themselves by believing".[12] The saintly Bishop of Hippo had good reason to express himself in this way. As we know, his life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith until such time as his heart would find rest in God.[13] His extensive writings, in which he explains the importance of believing and the truth of the faith, continue even now to form a heritage of incomparable riches, and they still help many people in search of God to find the right path towards the "door of faith".

Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

8. On this happy occasion, I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith. We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.

9. We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is"the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ... and also the source from which all its power flows."[14] At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed,[15] and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.

Not without reason, Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in baptism. With words rich in meaning, Saint Augustine speaks of this in a homily on the redditio symboli, the handing over of the creed: "the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord. You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts."[16]

10. At this point I would like to sketch a path intended to help us understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith, but also the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom. In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. Saint Paul helps us to enter into this reality when he writes: "Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom 10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.

The example of Lydia is particularly eloquent in this regard. Saint Luke recounts that, while he was at Philippi, Paul went on the Sabbath to proclaim the Gospel to some women; among them was Lydia and "the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul" (Acts 16:14). There is an important meaning contained within this expression. Saint Luke teaches that knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart, the authentic sacred space within the person, is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see below the surface and to understand that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.

Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This "standing with him" points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous.

Profession of faith is an act both personal and communitarian. It is the Church that is the primary subject of faith. In the faith of the Christian community, each individual receives baptism, an effective sign of entry into the people of believers in order to obtain salvation. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: " ‘I believe’ is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during baptism. ‘We believe’ is the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. ‘I believe’ is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both ‘I believe’ and ‘we believe’."[17]

Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God. The giving of assent implies that, when we believe, we freely accept the whole mystery of faith, because the guarantor of its truth is God who reveals himself and allows us to know his mystery of love.[18]

On the other hand, we must not forget that in our cultural context, very many people, while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world. This search is an authentic "preamble" to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God. Human reason, in fact, bears within itself a demand for "what is perennially valid and lasting".[19] This demand constitutes a permanent summons, indelibly written into the human heart, to set out to find the One whom we would not be seeking had he not already set out to meet us.[20] To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.

11. In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, signed, not by accident, on the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John Paul II wrote: "this catechism will make a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church ... I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith."[21]

It is in this sense that that the Year of Faith will have to see a concerted effort to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here, in fact, we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded and proposed in her two thousand years of history. From Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to the saints across the centuries, the Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith.

In its very structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church follows the development of the faith right up to the great themes of daily life. On page after page, we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a Person who lives within the Church. The profession of faith is followed by an account of sacramental life, in which Christ is present, operative and continues to build his Church. Without the liturgy and the sacraments, the profession of faith would lack efficacy, because it would lack the grace which supports Christian witness. By the same criterion, the teaching of the Catechism on the moral life acquires its full meaning if placed in relationship with faith, liturgy and prayer.

12. In this Year, then, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as a tool providing real support for the faith, especially for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context. To this end, I have invited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by agreement with the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See, to draw up a Note, providing the Church and individual believers with some guidelines on how to live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelization.

To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries. Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.[22]

13. One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. While the former highlights the great contribution that men and women have made to the growth and development of the community through the witness of their lives, the latter must provoke in each person a sincere and continuing work of conversion in order to experience the mercy of the Father which is held out to everyone.

During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the "pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfilment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfilment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection. In him who died and rose again for our salvation, the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light.

By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Lk 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Mt 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4).

By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mk 10:28). They believed the words with which he proclaimed the Kingdom of God present and fulfilled in his person (cf. Lk 11:20). They lived in communion of life with Jesus who instructed them with his teaching, leaving them a new rule of life, by which they would be recognized as his disciples after his death (cf. Jn 13:34-35). By faith, they went out to the whole world, following the command to bring the Gospel to all creation (cf. Mk 16:15) and they fearlessly proclaimed to all the joy of the resurrection, of which they were faithful witnesses.

By faith, the disciples formed the first community, gathered around the teaching of the Apostles, in prayer, in celebration of the Eucharist, holding their possessions in common so as to meet the needs of the brethren (cf. Acts2:42-47).

By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.

By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay. By faith, countless Christians have promoted action for justice so as to put into practice the word of the Lord, who came to proclaim deliverance from oppression and a year of favour for all (cf. Lk 4:18-19).

By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Rev 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.

By faith, we too live: by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.

14. The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As Saint Paul reminds us: "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). With even stronger words – which have always placed Christians under obligation – Saint James said: "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith" (Jas 2:14-18).

Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. 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). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).

15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to "aim at faith" (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.

"That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph" (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: "when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.

Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed "blessed because she believed" (Lk 1:45).

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 October in the year 2011, the seventh of my Pontificate.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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1 Homily for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 710.

2 Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily at Holy Mass in Lisbon’s "Terreiro do Paço" (11 May 2010): Insegnamenti VI:1 (2010), 673.

3 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 113-118.

4 Cf. Final Report of the Second Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (7 December 1985), II, B, a, 4 in Enchiridion Vaticanum, ix, n. 1797.

5 Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul (22 February 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 196.

6 Ibid., 198.

7 Paul VI, Credo of the People of God, cf.Homily at Mass on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul at the conclusion of the "Year of Faith" (30 June 1968): AAS 60 (1968), 433-445.

8 Paul VI, General Audience (14 June 1967): Insegnamenti V (1967), 801.

9 John Paul II,Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 57: AAS 93 (2001), 308.

10 Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 52.

11 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 8.

12 De Utilitate Credendi, I:2.

13 Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, I:1.

14 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10.

15 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 116.

16 Sermo 215:1.

17 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 167.

18 Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, chap. III: DS 3008-3009: Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 5.

19 Benedict XVI, Address at the Collège des Bernardins, Paris (12 September 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 722.

20 Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, XIII:1.

21 John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 115 and 117.

22 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998), 34, 106: AAS 91 (1999), 31-32, 86-87.

[Original text: Latin]

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Address to New Evangelizers
"To Be Evangelizers Is Not a Privilege, But a Commitment That Comes From Faith"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to participants in an event hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood

Dear Friends!

I joyfully received the invitation from the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization to be with you today, this afternoon at least briefly and especially tomorrow in the Eucharistic Celebration. I thank Archbishop Fisichella for the words of greeting he addressed to me in your name, and I am delighted to see that you are very numerous. I know you are representing many others that, like you, are committed in the difficult task of the New Evangelization. I greet all those who are following this event through the media, which enables many new evangelizers to be connected at the same time, though they are scattered throughout different parts of the world.

You chose as the motto for your reflection today the expression: "The Word of God Increases and Multiplies." The Evangelist Luke uses this formula many times in the book of the Acts of the Apostles; in different situations, he affirms, in fact, that "the Word of God increased and multiplied" (cf. Acts 6:7; 12:24). However for today's theme you modified the tense of the two verbs to evidence a very important aspect of the faith: the conscious certainty that the Word of God is always alive, in all the moments of history, up to our days, because the Church actualizes it through her faithful transmission, the celebration of the sacraments and the witness of believers. That is why our history is in continuity with that of the early Christian community, it lives with the same spirit.

But what ground does the Word of God find? As then, also today it encounters closure and rejection, ways of thinking and living that are far from the search for God and truth. Contemporary man is often confused and unable to find answers to so many questions that unsettle his mind in regard to the meaning of life and to the questions that dwell in the depth of his heart. Man cannot elude these questions that affect the meaning of himself and of reality, and he cannot live only in one dimension! However, it is no accident that he is distracted from the search for the essential in life, while an ephemeral happiness is suggested to him, making him content only for an instant, and immediately leaving sadness and dissatisfaction.

However, despite the condition of contemporary man, we can still affirm with certainty, as at the beginning of Christianity, that the Word of God continues growing and spreading. Why? I would like to point out, at least, three reasons. The first is that the strength of the Word does not depend, in the first place, on our action, on our means, on our "doing," but on God, who hides his power under the signs of weakness, who makes himself present in the light morning breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19:12), who reveals himself on the wood of the Cross. We must always believe in the humble power of the Word of God and allow God to act! The second reason is that the seed of the Word, as the Gospel parable of the Sower narrates, falls also today on good soil that receives it and produces fruit (cf. Matthew 13:3-9). And the new evangelizers are part of this field that enables the Gospel to grow in abundance and transform one's life and that of others. In the world, although evil makes much noise, good ground continues to exist. The third reason is that the proclamation of the Gospel has effectively reached the ends of the earth; even in the midst of indifference, incomprehension and persecution, many continue, yet today, with courage, opening the heart and mind to receive the invitation of Christ to encounter him and become his disciples. Though not making noise, they are as the grain of mustard that becomes a tree, the leaven that ferments the dough, the grain of wheat that is destroyed to create the ear. All this, if on one hand it gives consolation and hope because it shows an incessant missionary ferment that animates the Church, on the other hand, it must fill everyone with a renewed sense of responsibility for the Word of God and the diffusion of the Gospel.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which I instituted last year, is a valuable instrument to identify the great questions that are moving in the various sectors of society and contemporary culture. It is called to offer a particular help to the Church in her mission and above all in those countries of ancient Christian, which seem to be indifferent if not hostile to the Word of God. Today's world needs persons who proclaim and witness that Christ teaches us the art of living, the way to true happiness, because He himself is the Way of Life; people who look steadily, first of all, at Jesus, the Son of God: The word of the proclamation must be immersed in an intense relationship with Him, in an intense life of prayer. Today's world needs persons who speak to God to be able to speak of God. And we must also remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or showy means, but with suffering and death. The law of the grain of wheat that dies in the earth also serves today; we cannot give life to others, without giving our life: "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it," the Lord says to us (Mark 8:35). Seeing all of you and knowing the great commitment that each one gives to the service of the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelizers will multiply increasingly to give life to the real transformation that the present world needs. Only through men and women permeated with the presence of God, will the Word of God continue its journey in the world bearing its fruits.

Dear friends, to be evangelizers is not a privilege, but a commitment that comes from faith. To the question the Lord addresses to Christians: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" you answer with the same courage and the same trust as the Prophet: "Here I am! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8). I ask you to let yourselves be permeated by the grace of God and that you correspond docilely to the action of the Spirit of the Risen One. Be signs of hope, capable of looking at the future with the certainty that comes from the Lord Jesus, who has conquered death and has given us eternal life. Communicate to all the joy of the faith with the enthusiasm that comes from being moved by the Holy Spirit, because He makes all things new (cf. Revelation 21:5), trusting in the promise made by Jesus to the Church: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

At the end of this day let us also pray for the protection of the Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, while from my heart I accompany each one of you and your commitments with the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.

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Pope's Homily at Mass With New Evangelizers
"Proclamation Must Always Be Preceded, Accompanied and Followed by Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday when he celebrated a Mass for participants in an event hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

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Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With joy I celebrate today this Mass for you who are committed in many parts of the world on the frontiers of the New Evangelization. This liturgy is the conclusion of the meeting that gathered you yesterday to address the realms of that mission and to listen to some significant testimonies. I myself wish to present some thoughts to you, while I break for you today the Bread of the Word and of the Eucharist, in the certainty -- shared by all of us -- that without Christ, Word and Bread of life, we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5). I am content because this conference is situated in the context of the month of October, in fact one week before World Mission Sunday: this puts the New Evangelization in its specific dimension, in harmony with that of the mission ad gentes.

I address a cordial greeting to all of you who accepted the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In particular I greet and thank the president of this recently established dicastery, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, and his collaborators.

Let us turn now to the biblical readings in which the Lord speaks to us today. The first, taken from the Book of Isaiah, tells us that God is one, He is unique; there are no other gods besides the Lord, and even the powerful Cyrus, emperor of the Persians, forms part of a greater plan, which only God knows and carries forward. This reading gives us the theological meaning of history: the changes of epochs, the succession of great powers, are under the supreme dominion of God; no earthly power can put itself in His place. The theology of history is an important, essential aspect of the New Evangelization, because the men of our time, after the terrible period of the totalitarian empires of the 20th century, need to rediscover a global vision of the world and of time, a truly free, peaceful vision, the vision that the Second Vatican Council transmitted in its documents, and that my Predecessors, the Servant of God Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II, illustrated with their Magisterium.

The second reading is the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians, and this is already very thought provoking, because it is the oldest letter that has come down to us from the greatest evangelizer of all times, the Apostle Paul. He says to us first of all that one does not evangelize in an isolated way: In fact he also had Silvanus and Timothy as collaborators (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:1), and many others. And he immediately adds another very important thing: that the proclamation must always be preceded, accompanied and followed by prayer. He writes, in fact: "We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers" (v. 2). The Apostle says he is very conscious of the fact that he has not chosen the members of the community, but God has: "They were chosen by Him," he states (v. 4). Every missionary of the Gospel must have this truth always present: It is the Lord who touches hearts with his Word and his Spirit, calling persons to faith and to communion in the Church. Finally, Paul leaves us a very beautiful teaching, taken from his experience. He writes: "for our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (v. 5). To be effective, evangelization needs the strength of the Spirit, to animate the proclamation and infuse in the one who bears it that "full conviction" of which the Apostle speaks. This term "conviction," "full conviction" in the Greek original is pleroforia: a term that does not express so much the subjective, psychological aspect, but rather the plenitude, the fidelity, the completeness, in this case of the proclamation of Christ. A proclamation that, to be complete and faithful, must be accompanied by signs, by gestures, as the preaching of Jesus. Word, Spirit and conviction -- thus understood -- are, hence, inseparable and thus concur to make the evangelical message spread efficaciously.

We now pause on the passage of the Gospel. It is the text on the legitimacy of the tribute that must be paid to Caesar, which contains Jesus' famous answer: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). But before coming to this point, this is a passage that can refer to all those who have the mission to evangelize. In fact, Jesus' interlocutors -- disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians -- address Him with an expression of appreciation: "We know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men" (v. 16). And it is in fact this affirmation, though arising from hypocrisy, which must call our attention. The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians do not believe what they say. They affirm it with a captatio benevolentiae so that they will be listened to, but their heart is very far from that truth; rather they want to lay a snare for Jesus to be able to accuse him. For us, instead, that expression is beautiful and true: Jesus, in fact, is true and he teaches the way of God according to the truth and he is not subject to anyone. He himself is this "way of God," which we are called to follow.

We can recall Jesus' words in John's Gospel: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (14:6). In this regard, St. Augustine's commentary is enlightening: "It was necessary for Jesus to say: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" because once the Way was known, the end had to be known. The Way led to the Truth, it led to the Life … and we, where are we going if not to Him? And by what Way do we go if not by Him?" (In Ioh 69:2). The new evangelizers are called to walk first on this Way that is Christ, to bring others to know the beauty of the Gospel that gives Life. And on this Way, one never walks alone but in company: an experience of communion and fraternity that is offered to all those we meet, to make others participants of our experience of Christ and of his Church. Thus, witness, together with proclamation, can open the heart of those who are seeking the truth, so that they can discover the meaning of their lives.

A brief reflection also on the central question of the tribute to Caesar. Jesus answers with astonishing political realism, linked to the theo-centrism of the prophetic tradition. The tribute to Caesar is paid, because the image on the coin is his; but man, every man, bears in himself another image, that of God, and hence he is His, to whom each one owes his existence. The Fathers of the Church, inspired in the fact that Jesus refers to the image of the Emperor coined on the coin of tribute, interpreted this step in the light of the fundamental concept of man as image of God, contained in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

An anonymous author writes: "The image of God is not imprinted on gold but on the human race. Caesar's coin is gold, God's is humanity … hence, give your wealth to Caesar, but keep for God the unique innocence of your conscience where God is contemplated … Caesar, in fact, has engraved his image on each coin, but God has chosen man, whom He has created, to reflect his glory" (Anonymous, Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 42). And St. Augustine used this reference many times in his homilies: "If Caesar claims his own image engraved on the coin," he affirms, "will God not exact from man the divine image sculpted in him? (En. In Ps., Psalm 94:2). And still: "As the coin is returned to Caesar, so the illumined soul is returned to God imprinted by the light of his face ... Christ in fact dwells in man's interior" (Ivi, Psalm 4:8).

This word of Jesus is rich in anthropological content, and it cannot be reduced solely to the political realm. The Church, therefore, does not limit herself to remind men of the correct distinction between the sphere of Caesar's authority and God's, between the political and the religious realm. The mission of the Church, as Christ's, is essentially to speak of God, to remind of his sovereignty, to remind everyone, especially Christians who have lost their identity, of God's right over what belongs to Him, that is, our life.

Precisely to give renewed impulse to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they are often found to the place of life, friendship with Christ who gives us his life in plenitude, I would like to announce in this Eucharistic Celebration that I have decided to declare a "Year of Faith," which I will illustrate with a special Apostolic Letter. This "Year of Faith" will begin on Oct. 11, 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and will end on Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It will be a time of grace and commitment to en ever fuller conversion to God, to reinforce our faith in Him and to proclaim Him with joy to the men of our time.

Dear brothers and sisters, you are among the protagonists of the New Evangelization, which the Church has undertaken and carries forward, not without difficulty, but with the same enthusiasm of the early Christians.

In conclusion, I make my own the expressions of the Apostle Paul that we have heard: I thank God for all of you. And I assure you that I keep you in my prayers, conscious of your commitment in faith, your diligence in charity, and your constant hope in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the Virgin Mary, who was not afraid to answer "yes" to the Word of the Lord, and, after having conceived Him in her womb, went out full of joy and hope, always be your model and your guide. Learn from the Mother of the Lord and our Mother to be humble and at the same time brave, simple and prudent; balanced and strong, not with the force of the world, but with that of truth. Amen.

 

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New Catechesis on the Year of Faith

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today’s Audience introduces a new series of catecheses meant to accompany the Church’s celebration of the Year of Faith, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  The Year of Faith invites us to renewed enthusiasm for the gift of our belief in Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the Son of God, and shows us the ultimate meaning of our human existence.

Faith transforms our lives, enabling us to know and love the God who created us, to live freely in accordance with his will, and to cooperate in building a truly humane and fraternal society. 

 Our catecheses will thus deal with the central truths of the faith as expressed in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.  May the Year of Faith lead all believers to a fuller knowledge of the mystery of Christ and a deeper participation in the life of his Body, the Church!

 I offer a warm welcome to the Muslim and Catholic study group from the Diocese of Broken Bay in Australia.  I also greet the representatives of the Jewish Federation of North America and the participants in the European Conference of the American Bankruptcy Institute.  I thank the Cathedral Choir from Oslo and the Hawaiian dancers for their performances.  Upon all the English-speaking visitors present, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Norway, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Canada and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessing."

 

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On A New Series of Audiences for The Year of Faith
"With Faith, Everything Changes in Us and for Us"

VATICAN, OCTOBER 18, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. Today the Holy Father introduced a new series of catechesis meant to accompany the Church during the Year of Faith.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to introduce a new series of catecheses that will be developed throughout the course of the newly inaugurated Year of Faith and that, for the time being, will interrupt the series dedicated to the school of prayer. I called this special Year with the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, so that the Church might experience a renewed enthusiasm in her faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, reawaken her joy in walking on the way he has pointed out to us, and witness in a tangible way to the transforming power of faith.

The 50thanniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is an important occasion to return to God, to deepen and to live one’s faith more courageously, to strengthen one’s sense of belonging to the Church, the “teacher of humanity”, who through the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the Sacraments and deeds of charity leads us to encounter and to know Christ, true God and true man. It is an encounter not with an idea or a plan of life, but with a living Person, who profoundly transforms us from within by revealing to us our true identity as children of God.

Encountering Christ renews our human relationships by directing them, day by day, to a greater solidarity and fraternity, in accord with the logic of love. Faith in the Lord is not something that affects only our minds, the realm of intellectual knowledge; rather, it is a change involving the whole of our existence: our feelings, heart, mind, will, body, emotions and human relationships. With faith, everything changes in us and for us, and it reveals clearly our future destiny, the truth of our vocation in history, the meaning of our lives, the joy of being pilgrims en route to our heavenly homeland.

But - we ask ourselves - is faith really the transforming power of our lives, of my life? Or is it just one part of life, without being the deciding factor that involves it completely? Through these catecheses for the Year of Faith, we will journey along a path to strengthen or to rediscover the joy of faith, by learning that faith is not something foreign and disconnected from real life but rather, it is its very soul. Faith in a God who is love, and who drew near to man by becoming incarnate and giving himself on the Cross to save us and reopen the doors of Heaven, tells us clearly that man’s fullness consists in love alone.

Today, as ongoing cultural transformations often reveal forms of savagery passing under the sign of “conquests of civilization”, it needs to be repeated clearly: faith affirms that there is no true humanity except in the places, in the acts, in the times and in the ways in which man is animated by the love that comes from God, is expressed as a gift and is manifested in relationships rich in love, compassion, care and disinterested service for the other. Where there is domination, possessiveness, exploitation and commodification of the other brought about by egoism; where the arrogance of the ‘I’ closed in upon itself exists, there man is impoverished, degraded and disfigured. Christian faith, which is active in love and strong in hope, does not limit life but rather humanizes it and indeed, makes it fully human.

Faith means welcoming this transforming message into our lives; it means receiving the revelation of God, who lets us know who He is, how he acts and what his plans are for us. To be sure, the mystery of God forever remains beyond the capacity of our concepts and our reason, our rites and our prayers. And yet, by his revelation God himself communicates with us, he tells us about himself and he makes himself accessible. And we are enabled to listen to his Word and to receive his truth. This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates in us – through the working of the Holy Spirit – the proper conditions for us to recognize his Word. God himself, in his will to reveal himself to us, to enter into contact with us and to make himself present in history, enables us to listen to him and to receive him. St. Paul expresses it with joy and gratitude in this way: “We thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

God has revealed himself in words and deeds throughout the course of a long history of friendship with man, culminating in the Incarnation of the Son of God and in his mystery of death and resurrection. God not only revealed himself in the history of a people; he not only spoke by means of the prophets, but he crossed the threshold of Heaven to enter the land of men as a man, so that we might encounter him and listen to him. And from Jerusalem, the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation spread to the ends of the earth. The Church, born from the side of Christ, became the bearer of a new and firm hope: Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, the Savior of the world, who is seated at the right hand of the Father and who is judge of the living and the dead. This is the kerigma, the central and unsettling proclamation of the faith.

Yet from the beginning there arose the problem of the “rule of faith”, i.e. of the faithfulness of believers to the truth of the Gospel, in which they were to stand firm, and to the saving truth about God and man, which was to be guarded and handed on. St. Paul writes: “Through it [the Gospel] you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you will have believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:2).

But where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully transmitted and that are light for our daily lives? The answer is simple: in the Creed, in the Profession of Faith, or the Symbol of Faith, we reconnect with the original event of the Person and history of Jesus of Nazareth. It makes concrete what the Apostle to the Gentiles said to the Christians at Corinth: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Today, too, we need the Creed to be better known, understood and prayed. Above all, it is important that the Creed be “recognized”, as it were. For knowing can be a merely intellectual act, while “recognizing” involves discovering the profound connection between the truths that we profess in the Creed and our daily lives, such that that these truths truly and tangibly become – as they have always been – light for the steps of our lives, water that quenches our burning thirst along our journey, and life that overcomes some of the deserts of our modern day. The moral life of the believer is grafted onto the Creed, and it finds its foundation and justification therein.

It is no accident that Blessed John Paul II wanted the Catechism of the Catholic Church - a secure norm for teaching the faith and a reliable source for a renewed catechesis - to be patterned after the Creed. It was a matter of confirming and protecting the central core of the truths of the faith, while putting it into language more intelligible for men of our own times, for us. It is the Church’s duty to transmit the faith and to communicate the Gospel, so that Christian truths may shed light on new cultural transformations, and so that Christians may be able to make a defense for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Peter 3:14).

Today we live in a society that has changed profoundly, even compared with the recent past, and that is in constant motion. The process of secularization and a widespread nihilistic mentality, according to which everything is relative, have had a profound impact on the general mindset. Thus, life is often lived lightly without clear ideals and solid hopes, and within fluid and passing family and social ties. Above all, the new generations are not being formed to seek the truth and the profound meaning of life that goes beyond all that is passing. Nor are they being formed to have stable affections and attachments, and to trust. On the contrary, relativism leads to having no firm foundation. Suspicion and inconstancy cause ruptures in human relationships, while life is lived in experiments that do not last, without assuming responsibility. If individualism and relativism seem to dominate the minds of many of our contemporaries, it cannot be said that believers remain totally immune to these dangers by which we are confronted in handing on the faith. The survey promoted on all the continents for the celebration of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, highlighted some of these dangers: a faith lived in a passive or private manner, failure to educate in the faith, the fracture between life and faith.

Today, Christians often do not even know the core of their own Catholic faith, the Creed. This can leave the door open to certain syncretism and religious relativism that lacks clarity about the truths we must believe and about Christianity’s unique power to save. Today we are not so far away from the risk of building a “do-it-yourself” religion. We must instead return to God, to the God of Jesus Christ. We must rediscover the message of the Gospel and make it enter more deeply into our consciences and into our daily lives.

In the catecheses for the Year of Faith, I would like to offer help for the journey, for taking up and exploring the central truths of the faith about God, about man, about the Church, about the whole social and cosmic reality, by meditating and reflecting on the statements of the Creed. And I would like for it to become clear that the content or truths of faith (fides quae – “faith which”) are directly connected to our lives, that they require a conversion of our lives, that they give birth to a new way of believing in God (fides qua – “faith by which”). Knowing God, meeting him, exploring the features of His Face, brings our lives into play, for He enters into the deep dynamics of being human.

May the journey we will make this year cause us all to grow in faith and love for Christ, so that we may learn to live, in our choices and daily actions, the good and beautiful life of the Gospel. Thank you.

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Audience introduces a new series of catecheses meant to accompany the Church’s celebration of the Year of Faith, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Year of Faith invites us to renewed enthusiasm for the gift of our belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, shows us the ultimate meaning of our human existence. Faith transforms our lives, enabling us to know and love the God who created us, to live freely in accordance with his will, and to cooperate in building a truly humane and fraternal society. Our catecheses will thus deal with the central truths of the faith as expressed in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. May the Year of Faith lead all believers to a fuller knowledge of the mystery of Christ and a deeper participation in the life of his Body, the Church!

 

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