BY THE REV. DOMINIC SCOTTO, TOR
On Oct. 11, 2012, the Church initiated what she referred to as “The Year of Faith.”
In the Acts of the Apostles 14: 27, we learn that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church. But God has also opened the door of faith for each and every one of us, and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him. Over the past Year of Faith every Catholic has had the opportunity to turn more and more to Jesus our Savior and to encounter him in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to grow in their faith day by day.
With his Apostolic Letter of Oct.11, 2011, “Porta Fidei” (the Door of Faith), Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared that a Year of Faith would begin on Oct. 22, 2012, and would conclude on Nov. 24, 2013. Providentially, the first day of the Year of Faith marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
During this year, Benedict asked all Catholics to reread, study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism so that they might rediscover the riches these documents contain and consequently deepen their knowledge of the faith. It was a summons to pursue an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, “the one Savior of the World,” according to Porta Fidei.
In other words the Year of Faith was presented to us as a wonderful opportunity to experience a turning more radically back to Jesus and into a much deeper relationship with him.
On Nov. 24, 2013, the Feast of Christ the King, the Church will bring to an official close the Year of Faith. Has this been a real year of spiritual growth for us? Have we improved in our relationship to God?
While I am certain that all of us may have had the very best intentions to comply with the aims set forth for us by the Holy Father, ultimately the test is in the doing. Have we indeed grown closer to God over the past year? I am sure that the year may have been a mixture of some successes and some failures.
Whatever the outcome, the challenge of the Year of Faith remains with us throughout our lives. It should continue to be a constant goal for us to seek to grow ever more knowledgeable of the will of God.
Perhaps the past year can serve to inspire us from here on to be determined to use the time available to us in a much more fruitful fashion. Sometimes it is much better to set smaller goals for ourselves than to be overly ambitious in our journey of faith.
In these remaining days of the Year of Faith we need to review our goal of growing closer to Christ and his Church. At the close of the Year of Faith we will be provided with an opportunity to rededicate ourselves anew to that noble goal. Christ will speak to us and step by step will lead us to a renewed resolution to continue to grow in our love of God and neighbor.
Pope Francis has revealed that a much-anticipated encyclical letter on faith begun by Benedict and completed by himself would be ready for the closing of the Year of Faith. We should all be eager to read this encyclical as part of our renewed resolution to continue to grow in our faith in the years left before us.
On the last Sunday of the Church’s calendar year – the feast of Christ the King – the Lord is calling us to reflect upon this past Year of Faith and to resolve to look to the future with hope by making the greatest act of faith that we have ever made. Our Lord and Savior Jesus is calling upon each of us to acknowledge Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the circumstances of our lives.
This is our Christian vocation: to establish firmly in our lives Christ’s kingdom of truth and life, his kingdom of holiness and grace, his kingdom of justice, love and peace. May the years ahead be truly years of continued growth in our love and faith in the Lord.