St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Door of Faith

"Door of Faith" might seem a strange combination of words for a title, the amalgamation of words for a title; the amalgamation of concrete architectural structure and an abstract devotional concept. However, it is the English translation of "Porta fidei", the title of an apostolic letter of the Holy Father. Essentially this letter of Pope Benedict XVI. dated October 11, 2011, is an introduction to the Year of Faith that will be celebrated from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.

"Porta fidei" is an expression that originates from the New Testament (Acts 14:27). As we enter the door of faith at Baptism we are on the road of a lifetime. This journey necessitates a periodic joy-filled an enthusiastic renewal of our faith. It is especially timely now because of our ever- complex, ever-rapid economical, political and societal changes that led many Christians to, what our Pope assessed as, a "profound crisis of faith". To keep our faith in the one that God has send necessitates to "rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God" and "on the bread of life".

It is noteworthy that the Year of Faith coincides with 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. The closing of the Year of Faith will be on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.

In addition, the theme of the Synod of Bishop convoked for October 2012 is "The New Evangelization for the transmission of the Catholic Faith". The teachings that will derive from all these events will assist us in re appropriating our faith, "so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it, and confess it".

We are called and encouraged to give witness to our faith by our lives. Faith grows when it is lived. Our very existence in the world ought to radiate the truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. This is our everyday responsibility which is based on an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord. This will help us to deepen our faith and our love of God, and in return we will partake in the joy of believing. Pope Benedict encourages us to celebrate this Year of Faith in a worthy and fruitful manner: reflection on the faith, a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing.

Consequently, we are encouraged to take all opportunities to profess our faith in the Risen Lord "in our churches, in our homes and among our families". Religious communities, parish communities, ought to feel a strong need to better know and to transmit our faith to future generations.

The Holy Father writes, "We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year."

As human beings, the path to faith goes via our heart, because men and women believe with their heart. We are reminded of how Lydia (Acts 16) fully embraced the faith since God opened her heart to received and to accept the teachings of Paul. The Holy Father qualifies this event as one having an "important meaning". The way to know the content to be believed is not possible unless the heart, the sacred place in the person, is opened by grace.

Belief is not a private act. The profession of faith is both personal and communitarian. We are taught to say both "I believe" and "we believe".

Accepting with intellect the teachings of faith is a gift of God. However, in our cultural context many are searching - and searching is good. In that search, one ought to return to the basics of our faith, which is found in the Catechism, because it "follows the development of the faith right up to the great themes of daily life."

As requested, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith that should help our community as whole and also individual parishioners to live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelization.

Pope Benedict insists that retracing the history of faith is of decisive importance. Our faith will be strengthened and our knowledge of faith enriched by knowing that from the beginning of Christianity examples of faith have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history. They ought to be brought to the fullness of light: Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, and the first communities of disciples, the martyrs and Christians living a consecrated life.

Men and women of all ages were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christina: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called in the past, and continue to be called today.

The Holy Father recalls that faith by itself, if it has no work, is dead. Hence, the Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity.

The concluding paragraph of this apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI has a "papal with" that we could adopt as a prayer: May this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.

Laszlo DeRoth