When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from their first missionary journey, “They called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27). The door of faith is still open to each of us and God continues to invite us across its threshold into a deeper relationship with himself in the Church. The upcoming Year of Faith which Pope Benedict XVI has declared for the whole Church is an opportunity for every Catholic to turn toward Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments and rediscover the riches of our Catholic faith. “Porta Fidei,” the “Door of Faith” is the name of the decree by which the Holy Father has called for this special year of pastoral activity dedicated to renewing the faith of Catholics. The Year of Faith begins on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013. During this Year of Faith we are invited to study both the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism, in order to deepen our knowledge of the faith and enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ and his Church.
The beginning of the Year of Faith this month is also the occasion for a Synod of Bishops in Rome. Its theme is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.” During this synod, bishops from around the world will meet with the Holy Father to pray, reflect and strategize together on the importance of a renewed proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning with those who have already been baptized. It begins in our own hearts, and in those places where faith, perhaps once strong, has grown weak.
We have heard much about the New Evangelization in recent years. What is new about it? It certainly does not propose a new Gospel, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8). Rather it is new in its ardor, expression and methods. It seeks to present the Gospel in compelling ways that correspond to the questions, circumstances and challenges of today. The New Evangelization proposes that each Catholic deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel and be willing to share the Gospel with others. It is a call not merely to know our faith but to be witnesses to Jesus Christ wherever we are.
Essentially, the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith are a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the World.” (Porta Fidei 6). The Year of Faith offers an opportunity for each of us to renew our baptismal commitment by living the everyday moments of our lives with faith, hope and love as witnesses to Christ.
In the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, we will be making available a variety of resources for the Year of Faith. Prayer cards and posters will be distributed in each of the parishes. The Sooner Catholic and our website will have regular features. Our archdiocesan departments are taking the Year of Faith as the theme for ordinary programming throughout this year. Pastors are being encouraged to make use of various resources which are being made available for parish-based activities. I am currently conducting a series of listening sessions around the Archdiocese as part of a process to develop a mutually shared vision and pastoral priorities for the Archdio-cese. This will be an essential part of the experience and outcome of the Year of Faith that will guide us into the future over the course of the next few years.
Please join me in praying for an abundant outpouring of grace and a new Pentecost during this Year of Faith, as together, we put out into the deep.