Let us start this week’s reflection with a quotation from an article I have been recently reading. "Since that first Pentecost Day the Holy Spirit has been alive and active...
Year of Faith – New Evangelisation (11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013)
One of the wonderful qualities of our last two Popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is their insight into the most effective ways to respond to the “signs of the times” that are currently visible through the eyes of faith.
Blessed John Paul II did it with (a) the institution of the Continental Synods, which outlined the Church task of evangelisation in the different regional contexts; (b) the institution of World Youth Day, which brought together youth and young adults from every corner of the earth to witness to each other and to the world the reality of Jesus’ presence and activity in their lives; (c) the institution of his wonderful vision of human life and sexuality – the Theology of the Body, to give but a few.
Pope Benedict XVI is doing it by building on Pope John Paul II’s foundations by adding his own flavour. He is calling us to a “Year of Faith”, during which, re-imbued with the vision and spirit of Vatican II, the Church of today will embark on a profound renewal of faith in God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but not an academic or intellectual faith. Rather what we are to seek is a faith of the heart which seeks to know, experience and be in complete communion with Jesus through a living and real encounter with him. We are to strive to meet and converse and stay with him in as real and concrete a way as Andrew and his companions did when in response to his invitation “Come and See”, they stayed with him for the rest of the day!
Our vision and dream for the Year of Faith will need to lead us to a similar level of faith and commitment, so that we too go and seek out our brothers and friends in order to tell them the good news – “we have found the Saviour – He is Jesus of Nazareth.”
How will we celebrate the Year of Faith?
The overall vision and plan of the Church in Southern Africa includes 3 key activities or projects – prayer, faith formation and service.
- Prayer because it is the best means of communication by which we can make contact and engage with Jesus person to person. For us, as for Andrew and his friend, prayerful communication is the way to establish a deeper relationship with Jesus and with each other.
- Faith Formation is what happens when we learn to stay with Jesus on his conditions – “come and see.” Clearly it is “staying the rest of the day with him” that is the most effective way of forming us in living faith in him.
- Service is what happens, when like Andrew we too go and seek those whom we love and care about to share the good news with them: “we have found the Saviour”, and not satisfied with simply announcing the news, we lead them to him.
What each parish is required to do
- Open the year of Faith with a Special Mass of Evangelisation on Sunday 14th October 2012;
- Celebrate Mission Sunday on 21st October with a special Mass for the Evangelisation of Peoples and other special activities to highlight the Mission of Evangelisation in which every Catholic has a personal role to play;
- Organise special Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament e.g. once a month, once a quarter, etc;
- Set out special Days of Retreat/Recollection for different Groups in the parish at different times of the year e.g. for women during August;
- Promote special Gospel/Faith Sharing Sessions using 7 step method or Lectio Divina;
- Set up special adult, young adult and youth and children Study Sessions on the Nicene Creed;
- Organise Parish/Deanery Pilgrimages, vigils, etc
Text for the Special Mass to open the Year of Faith will be made available soon.