5 ways to celebrate the Year of Faith
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1:42 AM
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith from Oct. 11, 2012 until Nov. 24, 2013. From time to time the Church celebrates such a year, to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ around a particular theme. Faith is a gift and, like hope and love, is given to us in our baptisms. Faith is also a decision. The more we share love, the more love grows in our lives. So, too, the more we share our faith, the greater our faith will be. With this in mind, I offer you 5 Ways to Celebrate the Year of Faith.
1) Remember: Most of us don't remember our baptism, but we should remind ourselves from time to time that we are baptized. If we call ourselves Catholics, we believe Jesus is the Son of God, sent to redeem the world. Otherwise, he was the biggest con man in history. The choice is simple. The answer makes all the difference in this world and the next.
2) Learn: When Jesus says "I am the way, the truth, and the life,"(John 14, 6), notice he does not say that he's "a way" or "a truth" or "a life." We have to learn why his message is the message, the secret to happiness, and not just one gate among many to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus, even to those who have never heard of him, is the only bridge between heaven and earth. So then it is time to learn more about him. Read one of the Gospels this year. Sacred Scripture is not just the story of what happened 2,000 years ago; it is the living Word of God seeking to enlighten your heart and mind in a new way. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have something to show you. Start at the beginning and slowly read a bit more each day. Don't rush it.
3) Pray: Mother Teresa once said, "When we look at the cross, we know how much Jesus loved us. When we look at the tabernacle, we know how much Jesus loves us now." In the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present body, blood, soul, and divinity. So, if you want to deepen your faith, expand your experience of the source and goal of that faith: Jesus. Try going to Mass one day during the week besides Sunday.
4) Serve: In his letter, St. James asks us, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Yikes, that means Mass alone does not cut it. Time to look in the bulletin and see what service opportunities there are. Make food for the poor, visit the homebound, or sign-up for a Holy Hour? It's all good; just pick one and give it a try.
5) Share: If a movie star or famous athlete showed up on your doorstep wanting to meet you, wouldn't you tell someone about it? How about if God came to meet you? Well, he did and does. He is in the Church, his Mystical Body. He is in the Eucharist at Mass, in our prayer with the Scripture, and in our neighbor who needs us. It would be a pity if someone did not get to meet Him, all because I never said anything. It won't be a Year of Faith if you don't share the faith.
(Father Byrne serves as pastor of St. Peter Parish on Capitol Hill and as Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington.)