As of the weekend of Nov. 2-3, the Church is officially three weeks out from the end of the Year of Faith, marked for Nov. 24.
Ushered into being in October 2011 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Porta Fidei (“The Door of Faith”), the year has served as a backdrop to a papal resignation, a resulting conclave and election of a new pope.
It’s witnessed a Synod on the New Evangelization and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
In a document issued January 2012, Cardinal William Levada, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), wrote: “The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today — capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the ‘door of faith.’”
Locally, many parishes and dioceses have tried to encourage that conversion through Year of Faith programs meant to catechize and energize.
But what about individually? Perhaps you meant to honor the Year of Faith in some way but never got around to it? Perhaps you started strong, but slowly fell off the wagon? I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late! We’ve got three weeks left, and here’s how to make the best of them.
1) Pray. Participate more actively in the celebration of the Eucharist. Go to adoration once a week. Make an effort to pray the Rosary every day. Families in particular might like this prayer from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “O God our Father, in Jesus you call all Christian families and homes to be signs of living faith. By the light of the Holy Spirit, lead us to be thankful for the gift of faith, and by that gift may we grow in our relationship with Jesus, your Son, and be confident witnesses to Christian hope and joy to all we meet. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
2) Learn. The CDF recommended reading Porta Fidei, the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II. Another good study option is “The Year of Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics” by Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa (OSV, $9.95). It’s short and perfectly manageable for a three-week time period.
3) Experience. Plan a Saturday pilgrimage to a nearby Marian shrine. Visit a nursing home or even a prison (like the admirable volunteers featured in this week’s In Focus) to witness to and spread the Faith. Take a virtual tour of St. Peter’s Basilica online at vatican.va (really incredible!).
4.) Keep going. Just because the Year of Faith officially wraps up Nov. 24 doesn’t mean our efforts at conversion should stop there. Instead, we should persevere in our growth and enthusiasm for the Faith, and spread that flame to all we encounter.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on ending the Year of Faith on a high note: firstname.lastname@example.org.