Reflections for the Year of Faith
Year of Faith 2012-13
Reflections for the Year of Faith
These reflections are designed to offer selected pieces of Church teaching and themes germane to the reality of faith. These small samplings of Church thought are meant to provide materials for reflection to the faithful during the Year of Faith.
7. Caritas Christi urget nos (2 Cor 5:14): it is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigor that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord's invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, strengthen themselves by believing. The saintly Bishop of Hippo had good reason to express himself in this way. As we know, his life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith until such time as his heart would find rest in God. His extensive writings, in which he explains the importance of believing and the truth of the faith, continue even now to form a heritage of incomparable riches, and they still help many people in search of God to find the right path towards the door of faith.
PORTA FIDEI OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF BENEDICT XVI
The Encyclical Rerum novarum can be read as a valid contribution to socio-economic analysis at the end of the nineteenth century, but its specific value derives from the fact that it is a document of the Magisterium and is fully a part of the Church's evangelizing mission, together with many other documents of this nature. Thus the Church's social teaching is itself a valid instrument of evangelization. As such, it proclaims God and his mystery of salvation in Christ to every human being, and for that very reason reveals man to himself. In this light, and only in this light, does it concern itself with everything else: the human rights of the individual, and in particular of the "working class", the family and education, the duties of the State, the ordering of national and international society, economic life, culture, war and peace, and respect for life from the moment of conception until death.
Centesimus Annus 1991 #54 #8.
As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes "the rest," which is "given in addition." Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative. The Lord will delight in describing in many ways the happiness of belonging to this kingdom (a paradoxical happiness which is made up of things that the world rejects), the demands of the kingdom and its Magna Charta, the heralds of the kingdom, its mysteries, its children, the vigilance and fidelity demanded of whoever awaits its definitive coming.
EVANGELII NUNTIANDI:APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION OF HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI
The NewEvangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith.Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization."1 The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. USCCB, 2012
Cardinal Avery Dulles delineated three forms of faith: Intellectualist, Fiducial and Performative. Please consult, The Faith That Does Justice, Paulist Press. #Intellectualist- Faith is understood as a type of knowing or illumination. In its modern form we find it in the thought of Karl Rahner, S.J. and Bernard Lonergan, S.J. There is a re-thematic awareness of the more, the transcendence that call us to faith.
Fiducial- Faith is understood as an act of personal trust in Jesus Christ. It places emphasis on conversion of heart and a concrete expression of discipleship. It requires costly grace.
Performative- Faith that is understood as grounding and grounded in the other two forms. All faith is not merely about an assent to truth or assent to a relationship with God. It included and must demonstrate a living faith by praxis, i.e., making faith concrete in transformative action in the light of the present/future Kingdom of God.
All three of these forms of faith interpenetrate each other depending upon context but must be kept in balance.
Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appears to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.
World Synod of Bishop, Justice in the World, 1971 #16
This council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come,(13) think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation.(14) Nor, on the contrary, are they any less wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life. This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal(15) and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments.(16) Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example of Christ Who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all their earthly activities and to their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory.
Gaudium Et Spes, 1965 #43
From the Brothers Karamazov, F. Dostoyevsky Father Zossima believes, like theistic existentialists, that faith has no objective proof but can only be confirmed by a subjective experience. Madame Hohlakov asks Father Zossima how she can get back her faith in immortality and be able to prove it (Dostoyevsky 64). Zossima responds that there's no proving it, though you can be convinced of it (64). He further states how to have convincing faith: By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbor actively and constantly. In so far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubt. (64)
Thus, for Zossima, faith is obtained, increased, and confirmed by inward subjective experiences of actively loving, which shows another aspect of theistic existentialism held by Zossima.
The Abrahamic Faiths: Interfaith References
The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.
Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham.
Finally, we invite all men and women of good will to reflect deeply on the significance of the Shoah. The victims from their graves, and the survivors through the vivid testimony of what they have suffered, have become a loud voice calling the attention of all of humanity. To remember this terrible experience is to become fully conscious of the salutary warning it entails: the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism must never again be allowed to take root in any human heart.
We Remember: Reflections on the Shoah, 1998
October 14, 2012
Mark 10:17-30 Eternal Life
In life we sacrifice something to get something else in the world.
Can we like the young man really be willing to give up all that seems to support our sense of security for God's Reign?
Do our possessions possess us?
What does this mean do the individual, the Church and our world?
Are we willing to share so that none are forgotten; none are considered expendable? Cf. Franz Jaggerstatter What was he willing to give up for the Reign of God?
Just as the man who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. Just as those who believe in National Socialism tell themselves that their struggle is for survival, so must we, too, convince ourselves that our struggle is for the eternal kingdom. But with this difference: We need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead, spiritual weapons and the foremost among these is prayer. . . . Through prayer, we constantly implore new grace from God, since without God's help and grace it would be impossible for us to preserve the Faith and be true to His commandments. . . . Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are they who live and die in God's love.
October 21, 2012 Service or ambition
Mark 10: 35-45
This Sunday we are confronted we are confronted with the central element of the Lord's ministry service unto death. We are called to trust in the Father about who will sit in the places of honor in the Kingdom.
For those in ministry in the Church we remember that serving God's people is the centerpiece of ministry. Ambition to rise up the ladder in the institutional Church has no place in the heart of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Can we accept the call to serve unto death with the Lord?
What prevents us from doing so?
How is it possible to live like the Lord?
What are the types of dying we are called to?
October 29, 2012 We see by following Jesus on the Way.
Mark 10: 46-52
How can see the risen Christ in our midst? We are told we are called to throw off our old identity and go to meet Jesus and following him on the Way. In this following the Lord in faithfulness to our baptismal promises our eyes will be opened and we will see him. Hosea Williams (Civil Rights Activist) If we are going to talk the talk we have to walk the walk.
In what areas of your life do you experience blindness?
How has your following of Jesus helped you to know him?
How can fear prevent us from following the Lord?
What are the things we are afraid of in life?
What strengths you in your desire to follow the Lord?
November 11, 2012
Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail. 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.
December 9, 2012, Second Sunday of Advent, Luke 3:1-6
Preparing the Way of the Lord: Forerunners of Christ in the World.
How do the way we lead our lives point to the future return of Christ? What is typical of such a life?
What will the world be like when the Lord's returns? How does that impact on the way we lead our faith lives?
January 13, 2013 Baptism of the Lord What did it mean for Jesus to accept baptism in the Jordan River?
Recaps Israel's history of liberation from slavery and entering the new life in the promised land.
Entered the waters of chaos in solidarity with human beings to show them the way to the Father. Death and Resurrection motif.
Begins formal mission.
Our baptism is about following Jesus into the waters in the hope and promise of resurrection.
February 5otc Trust in the Lord in the midst of the storms of life.
What storms are we facing as a culture?
What are the storms that come into people's lives?
What are the storms the Church has endured and is enduring?
March 4th Sunday of Lent, Lost Sheep
What does it feel like to be lost?
Why do individuals and nations get lost?
How does God respond to the lost sheep?
Easter Vigil/ Easter
Resurrection- the triumph of life and love in Christ.
We are a people of life and support all those things that affirm, protect and nurture life.
The most revolutionary proclamation the world has ever witnessed that God's reign of justice and peace, forgiveness and reconciliation all grounded in the love of God is the future.
Third Sunday of Easter- Feed My Sheep
How do we nourish the nascent faith of people with our lives?
How do you see Jesus nourishing his followers?
What are the present hungers people are facing in the world?
How does this affect the direction of Christian mission as it pertains to the hungers of the world?
Seventh Sunday of Easter- The Power of Prayer and Faith
Why is prayer so important for a life of faith?
How do we incarnate our prayers for others?
Why do we pray for the dead?
10th OTC-Jesus acts of power and life
Jesus tells us in this act that life is what wins.
Even if we die physically, God gives us a future and such healings of Jesus are illustrative of this and are anticipations of the future of full healing and transformation of the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
We are called to help bring healing and life to the lives of others as Jesus followers, personally, interpersonally, and socially.
15OTC- Good Samaritan- Go beyond the labels
God often comes to us in the beaten persons on the side of the roads of life.
Doing the religious thing is first and foremost reaching out in compassion to all those who suffer. Beware of the prophetic critique of mere religious ritual without love, justice, and compassion.
Believers break through the enemy label.
19OTC- Be Prepared but not anxious
See the moment of the present as where you live.
Live each day to the fullest in love and tell those close to you that you love them.
Live as if you were to judge your life in the light of God's unconditional love.
25OTC- Use your mind and heart
Do not let unjust and vicious be the only ones who use their minds and hearts to further their interests.
We are called to use what has been given to us for the good of the self, others and the world.