Photo: Felix Carroll
Living the Year of Faith
By Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC (Oct 11, 2012)
Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his first encyclical letter to the theological virtue of charity (Deus Caritas Est). His second was on hope (Spe Salvi). The third, I assumed, would be on faith. It wasn't. Instead of an encyclical on faith, he has given us something even better: a whole year of faith.
The entire Church, through Nov. 24, 2013, is celebrating the Year of Faith. According to Pope Benedict, it's meant to be a time for "reflection and rediscovery of the faith." He also says it's meant to be a time for conversion and a deepening commitment to the new evangelization.
To help us live this "Year of Faith," I'd like to offer some suggestions for how you can enter more fully into this time of grace. My suggestions fall under three categories: (1) a time of reflection and rediscovery, (2) a time for conversion, and (3) a time for the new evangelization.
To make the Year of Faith a time of reflection and rediscovery of the faith, I recommend reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, according to Pope Benedict, illustrates "the power and beauty of the faith." If you're intimidated by its size, you might want to start by reading my new book, The 'One Thing' Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything. I wrote it using a popular style and summarized many of the main teachings of the Catechism, with the Year of Faith in mind. (My new book will be available Nov. 15.) Also, you may be interested in starting our Hearts Afire Program at your parish. The program is dedicated to helping Catholics reflect on and rediscover the faith. (Call 1-877-200-4277 or visit AllHeartsAfire.org.)
If you don't read the entire Catechism during the Year of Faith, then you'll at least want to read the section that's dedicated to the Ten Commandments (see 2052-2557). This section provides a thorough and insightful commentary on the Commandments and can be an amazingly effective tool for making an examination of conscience. Because the Year of Faith is meant to be a time for deepening conversion, this makes for perfect spiritual reading. Of course, it's also a good idea to follow up the reading by making a good confession.
The term "new evangelization," which was popularized by Pope John Paul II, has to do not only with spreading the Gospel but doing so by using new means and methods. Now, at the Marian Helpers Center here in Stockbridge, Mass., we're contributing to the new evangelization by utilizing new media to spread the message of Divine Mercy and devotion to Mary.
For years, we've been spreading the word on the Internet through our websites such as thedivinemercy.org and marian.org. More recently, we've ventured into the world of social media by creating Facebook pages such as "Divine Mercy Official." Also, we've created the immensely popular free mobile phone apps "Divine Mercy" and "Mary," which have been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Finally, we're beginning to release our most popular Marian Press titles as e-books, and now Marian Helper magazine is available in a digital format.
But what does all this have to do with you and the new evangelization? Everything! Not only can you download our faith-building apps, read our digital magazine, and visit our Facebook pages, but you can also spread the faith by telling others about these resources. For example, if your friends or family members have smartphones, you can tell them about the free Divine Mercy App. That's an easy way to evangelize during this special year.
I hope these suggestions will help you live the Year of Faith to the fullest, and I pray that it will be a special time of grace for you and your friends and family.
Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, is the director of the Association of Marian Helpers.