In just a little over 4 weeks, the Year of Faith will begin on Thursday 11th October 2012. Now is the time to start thinking about how we intend to take part in this special Year during our daily lives. If we take the Year of Faith seriously, we will experience an amazing, joy-filled renewal in our spiritual lives. Here’s what I intend to do…. (Maybe it will help you in your own preparation.)
During my online searches to see if there was an official prayer for the Year of Faith, I came across this article from the UK Catholic Herald. According to that article Pope Benedict XVI has been handing out prayer cards for the Year of Faith with an image of Christ on the front and the Nicene Creed printed on the back. It expressed the hope that the Creed would become a daily prayer, learned by heart. To pray the Nicene Creed each day, especially with the newly revised words, is quite an achievable goal; so that’s the first part of my plan.
In recent years I had started to read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but only got as far as the section on the Profession of Faith about the Judgment of the living and the dead (paragraph 678). Since I’d like to read through the whole thing at least once in my lifetime, the Year of Faith is the needed impetus to get back to it. Being a realist I know that the only way this is going to happen is if I read out loud a couple of paragraphs a night as part of the family’s ‘going to bed’ prayers. That’s achievable, too; so it’s the second part of my plan.
When the Year of Faith begins, our parish study group will cease studying the Gospel of St Mark and start discussing the Catechism of the Catholic Church week by week. If you have been reading the discussion summaries at www.ofgraceandfaith.blogspot.com you would already be aware of how much joy, inspiration and challenge they have been producing. Studying the Gospel we hear so frequently at Mass with holy parishioners has made hearing the Gospel fresh and exciting again. Going through a similar process with the Catechism should bring it alive in a whole new way. For more details about which parts of the Catechism we will be studying, and why, have a look at http://ofgraceandfaith.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-year-of-faith-approaches.html This part of the Year of Faith I am really looking forward to; and this forms the third part of my plan.
A long time ago a big step in my adult conversion began when I went to a couple of simple talks about the different attributes of God. Each week I would leave those talks excited and re-invigorated in faith because I had been reminded about just how wonderful God is. We need to know God more in order to be able to love Him more, and generally that means learning more about God and letting that new knowledge guide and shape our lives and our prayer lives. Studying the Catechism will do the same for us. What a joy it will be to be exposed to centuries worth of prayerful reflection and lived Christian experience in the Catechism! In particular I look forward to deepening my appreciation of the Sacraments and being inspired to pray better.
The last part of the plan (so far) is to participate in as many diocesan events for the Year of Faith as possible. The first one is an e-conference which anyone around the world can participate in as long as they have an internet connection, starting mid-morning 10 October 2012 Sydney time and downloadable for several weeks afterwards. Happily the theme for this e-conference is ‘Vatican II :An Event of Grace’.
I’ll also be keeping an eye on all of the great content being amassed at the English version of the official Vatican Year of Faith website : http://www.annusfidei.va/content/novaevangelizatio/en.html. Together with that I’ll be waiting to see whether the Apostolic Penitentiary decrees any indulgences for the Year of Faith, because they give the clearest guidance about the spiritual practices holy Mother Church thinks will be best for us during the Year of Faith.
Whatever happens, don’t let the opportunities of Grace in the Year of Faith pass you by.
Our Lady Help of Christians, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of the Church, pray for us that we may receive all that God wants to give us in the Year of Faith. Amen.
20 Oct 2012. Since the Year of Faith has started, another idea has come. If you, like me, try to include a quotation from Scripture or something else inspirational in your greeting cards (birthday, anniversary, sympathy etc), then for the Year of Faith consider rummaging through the documents of Vatican II for your quotations. The quotations I have found thus far for this purpose have been thought provoking and full of encouragement. It is a simple way of keeping the teachings of Vatican II in our lives in bite sized chunks.