Oct 5, 2012

A Year of Faith: Open Wide the Doors to Christ!

It may seem a little funny that the Catholic Church has identified a Year of Faith to take place from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. After all, aren't we always about our faith? Do we really need to dedicate a year to this topic? What happens post November 2013 - do we cease to become faithful?

Of course, a Year of Faith seems like an obvious choice. But it really is about digging deeper. What the church is asking of us all during the Year of Faith is to take a deeper look at our own faith journey, how it influences our day to day experiences and how we can move ourselves away from what distracts us closer to a life of faith and prayer that may help us find peace among the clutter of today's increasingly hectic pace.

In his announcement of the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI declared the event to be a "summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world." (Porta fidei 6). It's also been described by the Holy Father as opening the door of faith which is revealed at our baptism but in a special way this year we are invited to walk through it once again, rediscover the beauty of our faith and to renew our relationship with Jesus and our local church.

There is also historical context in having the Year of Faith at this time. October 11 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 2nd Vatican Council. The Council took place from 1962-1965, producing 16 documents over the course of four sessions. More than 2,000 bishops globally participated in this historic event with the council introducing extensive reforms in what is known today as one of the most significant religious events of the 20th century. The date also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, approved by the late Blessed John Paul II.

This month at the Vatican, a synod on the New Evangelization is bringing together bishops, religious and lay people from around the world to discuss how the church can continue to Open Wide the Doors to Christ!

In the Archdiocese of Toronto there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate and reflect on the Year of Faith. Things kick off with a Mass to celebrate the opening of this special year, taking place on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at St. Paul's Basilica at 4 p.m. Cardinal Thomas Collins will preside and all are welcome.

We have established a mini website to gather resources and highlight important events related to this special celebration. You can find the site here and it will be updated regularly. The diocesan Office of Formation for Discipleship is offering an extensive array of sessions targeted at Catholics interested in an introduction to some great topics including: "Exploring the Catechism", "Basic Teachings of the Catholic Church", "Head, Hearts & Hands: A Call to Discipleship" and "Biblical Spirituality: The Beatitudes" to name just a few. You can find full details online here.

At the local level, many parishes have bible studies, retreats, speakers or other initiatives planned to celebrate the Year of Faith. You can view our events calendar here and remember, in addition to special experiences organized for the Year of Faith there are wonderful prayer moments already ongoing in many parishes with Perpetual Adoration, Lectio Divina and other opportunities to fully immerse ourselves in prayer.

Later this month, we will also honour new saints canonized at the Vatican including the first North American saint, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. So in short, there is no lack of inspiration before us to prompt us to make this year a highlight on our spiritual journey.

Together we pray for the Year of Faith, may it provide an opportunity of immense blessing and discovery for our faith community. May we embrace a renewed relationship with Christ, open wide the door to evangelization and spread the Good News to the world!

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