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Opening the Door of Faith
Produced by the Liturgy Commission
1. What is the Year of Faith?
At certain times in the history of the Church, popes have called upon the faithful to dedicate themselves to deepening their understanding of a particular aspect of the faith. In 1967, Pope Paul VI announced a Year of Faith commemorating the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of Ss. Peter and Paul. The 1967 Year of Faith called upon the Church to recall the supreme act of witness by these two saints so that their martyrdom might inspire the present day Church to collectively and individually make a sincere profession of faith.
The upcoming Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.
The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith” (see Acts 14:27). The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
2. Why is the Year of Faith this year?
With his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the Year of Faith will begin on 11 October 2012 and conclude on 24 November 2013. 11 October 2012, the first day of the Year of Faith, is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and also the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of the faith.
3. The Year of Faith begins in October 2012 with a Synod on New Evangelization. What is a synod?
A synod of bishops is a gathering of bishops, selected from different areas of the world, who meet with the pope to discuss questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world. This meeting of bishops helps to foster a closer unity between the bishops and the pope, and provides counsel to the pope. Pope Benedict XVI has situated the Synod on the New Evangelization (October 7-28) at the beginning of the Year of Faith (October 11).
4. How are Year of Faith and New Evangelization linked?
The New Evangelization is a call to each Catholic to deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel. The New Evangelization is first and foremost a personal encounter with Jesus Christ; it is an invitation to deepen one’s relationship with Jesus. It is also a call to each person to share his or her faith with others. The Year of Faith, just like the New Evangelization, calls Catholics to conversion in order to deepen their relationship with Jesus and to share it with others.
5. How does the Year of Faith affect the average Catholic?
Every baptized Catholic is called through baptism to be a disciple of Jesus and proclaim the Gospel. The Year of Faith is an opportunity for each and every Catholic to renew their baptismal call by living out the everyday moments of their lives with faith, hope and love. This everyday witness is necessary for proclaiming the Gospel to family, friends, neighbors and society. In order to witness to the Gospel, Catholics must be strengthened through celebrating weekly Sunday Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Priests are encouraged to provide their parishioners with opportunities to deepen their faith during the Year of Faith through retreats, special liturgies, Bible studies, service opportunities and formation sessions on the catechism and sacraments.
6. What are some key resources for the Year of Faith?
Numerous catechetical resources, prayers and other resources have been prepared for the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization that can be viewed and downloaded for free. Catholics should also consider studying the documents of Vatican II and the catechism. Catholics can also talk to their priests and other parish leaders to learn about what activities and opportunities will be taking place within their communities. Most importantly, Catholics seeking to deepen their faith should pray daily, study Scripture and celebrate weekly Sunday Mass.
Highlights in the Plan for Year of Faith
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Vatican Radio on Thursday took note of some of the main events scheduled for the Year of Faith, which Benedict XVI has called for Oct. 11, 2012, through Nov. 24, 2013.
The Year itself begins Oct. 11, 2012, with a Mass presided over by Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square. It will be concelebrated by bishops and theologians who, like the Pope himself, served as members or experts at the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.
Many of the Pope’s traditional appointments, such as the Jan. 25 celebration marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Feb. 2 prayer with religious, are incorporated into the Year of Faith.
Other events have been added such as the Oct. 6 “Courtyard of the Gentiles” meeting in the Umbrian town of Assisi, which is presented as a prologue to the Annus Fidei with an encounter and dialogue between believers and non-believers on the theme of faith.
The Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme of New Evangelization will also stretch across the opening of the Year of Faith, as the synod runs Oct. 7-28.
After the official opening of the Year of Faith, a cultural event takes place Oct. 12 at the Church of the Gesù, focused on Dante Alighieri and Faith.
Other events include:
- Oct 21: canonization of six martyrs of the faith
- Oct. 26-30: a World Congress for Catholic teachers
- Nov. 15-17: international conference for health care workers on the theme “the hospital, a place of evangelization: a human and spiritual mission”
- Dec. 1: Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the first Vespers of Advent for the Pontifical Universities, the Seminaries and the Ecclesial Colleges.
- Dec. 20-May 1: an exhibition of the Year of Faith at Castel Sant’Angelo
- Dec. 28-Jan. 2: the Taizé community in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome promotes a European youth meeting
- Jan to Nov: inauguration of a major exhibition at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls dedicated to the Basilica itself and Vatican II.
- Feb. 25-26: International Congress dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and at the Gregorian University
- April 4-6: conference for Catholic associations dedicated to education
- April 13: concert titled “Oh My Son” in Paul VI Hall
- April: Day of Seminaries and a Day of Study dedicated to Vatican II documents
- April 28: Pope will confirm a group of young people and meet wit others who recently have been or are about to be confirmed in their home countries.
- May: the Pope will make a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter.
- June 2: feast of Corpus Christi: Benedict XVI will lead the solemn adoration of the Eucharist and is asking every cathedral and parish to have an hour of silent contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the same hour.
- June 16: the Pope will preside over a celebration of the Church’s witness to the dignity and value of every human life
- June 22: concert in St. Peter’s Square for the Year of Faith
- July 7: Benedict XVI will meet with seminarians and novices, who will make a pilgrimage to Rome to demonstrate “the joy of their decision to follow the Lord in serving his Church”
- July 23-28: World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro
- Sept. 18-19: a workshop organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Universities to examine the value of “the Catholic Church’s Catechism” in the teaching of theology
- Sept. 29: Day for Catechists celebrated in the presence of Benedict XVI
- Oct. 13: the Pope will celebrate a Marian Day together with a host of Marian Associations
- Nov. 24: Year of Faith concludes