The Holy Father Benedict XVI

The Year of Faith Explained

The first thing to know about the Year of Faith is that it is actually more than a year, lasting from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013. Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter on October 11, 2011, entitled “Porta Fidei” in which he declared that a "Year of Faith" will begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013.  October 11, 2012, is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. November 24th is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King. The Pope begins his Letter in this way:

The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. – Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei

How to Participate in the Year of Faith

Grow in your faith – In his apostolic letter, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to enrich your faith through the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are 2865 paragraphs in the Catechism. Evenly distributed, that comes to about 8 paragraphs every day of the calendar year (365 days) or 7 paragraphs every day of the full year of faith (410 days). I will be creating a blog post each day of the year of faith with quotes from the Catechism and additional commentary on the subjects covered in the Catechism paragraphs for that day. I will try to go through the Catechism in a calendar year and focus on other Church documents and teachings for the remaining days of the Year of Faith.

In addition to the Catechism, the Holy Father emphasized the study of the history of the Church. Throughout the ages, holy men and women of the Church have labored tirelessly building the Kingdom of God on Earth, traveling great distances to preach, exhorting the lukewarm, rebuking sinners, and proclaiming the name of Christ in the darkest of times, even if it meant the spilling of their blood. We can draw tremendous inspiration from their witness. Pope Benedict puts it this way:

One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. While the former highlights the great contribution that men and women have made to the growth and development of the community through the witness of their lives, the latter must provoke in each person a sincere and continuing work of conversion in order to experience the mercy of the Father which is held out to everyone.

Provide a witness to the Faith - The Holy Father asks us to bring Christ to others by providing a virtuous witness of our faith:

The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us.

The first aspect of this witness is that we are called to conversion. True witness of the faith can only be accomplished by first ridding ourselves of attachment to sin and by renewing our relationship with God. This is done through participation in the sacraments. Confess your sins and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist in order to enjoy the graces God showers upon you.

The second aspect of this witness is to bring Christ to others. We should provide an example of a virtuous life and when possible, lead others to Christ with gentle guidance and education in the ways of the faith. The Pope calls us to “make a public profession of the Credo”, meaning to profess our beliefs in the public square, not only in private or in Church.