Pope Benedict declared the year from October 2012 to be a Year of Faith with many events planned....
A YEAR OF FAITH for the whole Church, from the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on 11 October 2012 until 24 November 2013. Various events are planned both in diocese and parish. One legacy of the Second Vatican Council is the four great constitutions Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium and Gaudium et Spes which redefined the Church’s place on its pilgrim journey: worth re-reading.
Details of current & forthcoming YEAR OF FAITH events in this parish are on the PARISH NEWS section to the right of this page- click there.
Mgr John Wilson's Homily at the Opening Mass for the Year of Faith at Leeds Cathedral.
Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith
Leeds Cathedral - 11th October 2012
When the bible speaks about the ‘heart,’ it’s referring to the inner reality of who we truly are – who we really are before God, before ourselves and before the world. In our hearts reside our deepest thoughts, our deepest feelings, our deepest longings and motivations. The heart, we could say, is the hearth, the crucible, and the beacon of our faith: “If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then,’ says St Paul, ‘you will be saved.” That which falls from our lips flows from our heart, the very core and centre of our being.
In his Letter for the Year of Faith our Holy Father Pope Benedict affirms that we cross the threshold of the ‘door of faith,’ when ‘the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace,’ (PF1) that grace which is the gift of God’s love and mercy in Christ.
Faith is, of course, informed by reason, but our ongoing act of faith, our ‘choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him,’ (PF10) always remains essentially an affair of the heart, never something exclusive or private, but something intensely and deeply personal. There is, wrote the philosopher Blaise Pascal, “a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”(From the Pensees)
“If you confess with your lips and believe in your heart... you will be saved.”
It’s with a joyful sense of expectation that the Year of Faith unfolds now before us. Surely it has to be a year when the heart, what Pope Benedict calls ‘the authentic sacred space within the person’ is opened afresh to Jesus Christ:
opened afresh to the riches of His Gospel through a determined rediscovery of the Scriptures;
opened afresh to the teaching of His Church, especially in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism;
opened afresh to the evangelising service of His people by the public proclamation of faith and the practical witness to charity and justice;
opened afresh to His love for every person, whatever their belief or non-belief, and to entering into dialogue to build the common good;
opened afresh to the reality of His presence, particularly in our daily prayer and in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Confession.
This Year of Faith invites us to blow gently with the Holy Spirit upon the embers of belief wherever we find them, rekindling the flame of faith in the hearth that is the heart.
This Year of Faith calls us to discern the Lord’s words and ways, to enter into prayerful conversation with Jesus, sifting through our life with Him, in the crucible that is the heart.
This Year of Faith compels us to stand beside the poor and the marginalised, to defend human life and dignity, to put our faith into action and ignite the beacon that is the heart.
‘We want this Year,’ said Pope Benedict ‘to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.’ (PF9) For our Diocesan family - clergy, religious and lay faithful - this Year is an opportunity to reach within and to reach out, to realise anew that ‘there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ... to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.’ (Pope Benedict, Inauguration Homily, 2005)
I read in the newspaper last week the story of a postbox at Birmingham New Street Station that had not been emptied for 23 years. Although it was decommissioned in 1989, people had still continued to use it. When workers recently opened the door they found letters and postcards destined for addresses at home and across the world, all lying under a thick layer of dust. Having now rediscovered the contents, Royal Mail is trying to deliver each item of post to its proper recipient.
The rightful destination for God’s message of love and forgiveness in Jesus, his love letter, is the human heart – your heart, my heart, the heart of every person. Let this Year of Faith encourage you to dare to hope and believe again and anew. It is Christ Himself who is calling and sending us today; and He will never abandon us. The message of our Catholic faith is something to be proud of; something to cherish, something to celebrate and to share. Tonight’s liturgy will beckon us: ‘Lift up your hearts.’ As we step out into this Year of Faith let us together ‘lift them up to the Lord.’
SOME IDEAS FOR THE YEAR...
Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offers “10 Ways Catholics Can Live the Year of Faith.” Rooted in guidelines from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, some of these suggestions are already requirements for Catholics; others can be embraced by Catholics at all times and especially during the Year of Faith:
1. Participate in Mass. The Year of Faith is meant to promote the personal encounter with Jesus. This occurs most immediately in the Eucharist. Regular Mass attendance strengthens one’s faith through the Scriptures, the Creed, other prayers, sacred music, the homily, receiving Communion and being part of a faith community.
2. Go to Confession. Like going to Mass, Catholics find strength and grow deeper in their faith through participation in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Confession urges people to turn back to God, express sorrow for falling short and open their lives to the power of God’s healing grace. It forgives the injuries of the past and provides strength for the future.
3. Learn about the lives of the saints. The saints are timeless examples of how to live a Christian life, and they provide endless hope. Not only were they sinners who kept trying to grow closer to God, but they also exemplify ways a person can serve God: through teaching, missionary work, charity, prayer and simply striving to please God in the ordinary actions and decisions of daily life.
4. Read the Bible daily. Scripture offers first-hand access to the Word of God and tells the story of human salvation. Catholics can pray the Scriptures (through lectio divina or other methods) to become more attuned to the Word of God. Either way, the Bible is a must for growth in the Year of Faith.
5. Read the documents of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) ushered in a great renewal of the Church. It impacted how Mass is celebrated, the role of the laity, how the Church understands itself and its relationship with other Christians and non-Christians. To continue this renewal, Catholics must understand what the Council taught and how it enriches the lives of believers.
6. Study the Catechism. Published exactly 30 years after the start of the Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church covers the beliefs, moral teachings, prayer and sacraments of the Catholic Church in one volume. It’s a resource for growing in understanding of the faith. Another helpful resource is the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA).
7. Volunteer in the parish. The Year of Faith can’t only be about study and reflection. The solid grounding of the Scriptures, the Council and the Catechism must translate into action. The parish is a great place to start, and each person’s gifts help build up the community. People are welcome as ministers of hospitality, liturgical musicians, lectors, catechists and in other roles in parish life.
8. Help those in need. The Vatican urges Catholics to donate to charity and volunteer to help the poor during the Year of Faith. This means to personally encounter Christ in the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Helping others brings Catholics face-to-face with Christ and creates an example for the rest of the world.
9. Invite a friend to Mass. The Year of Faith may be global in its scope, focusing on a renewal of faith and evangelization for the whole Church, but real change occurs at the local level. A personal invitation can make all the difference to someone who has drifted from the faith or feels alienated from the Church. Everyone knows people like this, so everyone can extend a loving welcome.
10. Incorporate the Beatitudes into daily life. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) provide a rich blueprint for Christian living. Their wisdom can help all to be more humble, patient, just, transparent, loving, forgiving and free. It’s precisely the example of lived faith needed to draw people to the Church in the year ahead.