In October of 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced a “Year of Faith.” It began on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013, the solemnity of Christ the King.
Our Holy Father’s goal is nothing less than to lead us into a deeper relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
The premier way we meet Jesus is through the sacraments of the Church. Indeed, faithfully living out the Church’s sacraments tends to lead us more deeply into relationship with the living Christ.
Beyond the sacraments, there is a host of other activities we can enter into to deepen and nurture our faith life. Some examples include adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, regular praying of the Rosary, Scripture study, centering prayer and even charitable activities.
But too, we must acknowledge that there is much in our world that wants to pull us away from that practice of the faith, and the effect of secularism has been profound. While different studies show different conclusions, there are some that assert that 77 percent of U.S. Catholics identify as “proud to be Catholic” but only 23 percent of U.S. Catholics attend Mass weekly, and fewer than 30 percent go to Confession regularly.
Secularism’s impact on our culture affects far more than just our faith and Church practice. Our whole culture has been affected by this shift in values, which some refer to as the five wounds of secularism: busyness, materialism (consumerism), violence (revenge), relativism and entitlement. Increasingly these five attributes of our culture are in open conflict with the Gospel. Oftentimes they are found woven into the values of those who wish to restrict our practice of the faith.
While the Church does not presume to offer a simple solution to this complex situation, we do seek to provide a faith witness of believers. This witness to our faith highlights the many ways in which true believers have personally experienced the redeeming love of Christ.
While the “Year of Faith” might be celebrated in a variety of ways throughout our diocese, it is my hope that we will find many opportunities to engage in such faith-sharing. I cannot imagine a more successful means of personal evangelization.
“Year of Faith” activities we have planned for the next 12 months include a diocesan-wide holy hour on the First Sunday of Advent offered simultaneously throughout the diocese in every parish church.
We also will print five articles throughout the year related to these “Five Wounds of Secularization.” They will be published in The Register as well as on various electronic sites in an effort to reach the younger generation.
Guidelines for Advent and Lenten penance services based upon the five wounds of secularization will be provided to the priests. We also are suggesting some specific faith-sharing programs and materials that your pastor may wish to make use of locally.
We then will conclude the “Year of Faith” as we began, with a diocesan-wide holy hour to be held simultaneously at all of our parishes on the Feast of Christ the King in 2013.
There is no greater treasure than our Catholic faith. Indeed, in the words of our Holy Father at World Youth Day 2005: “Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.”
In that spirit I ask that you enter with me into this “Year of Faith” with great hope and expectation. Surely the Lord will bless us and renew the many good works begun in this wonderful Diocese of Salina.