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For the Indication of the Year of Faith

Apostolic letter Porta Fidei of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI

 

Part 3

THE Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of His death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins.

For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: “We were buried...with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life.

“Caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Corinthians 5:14): It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, He sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (Matthew 28:19). Through His love, Jesus Christ attracts to Himself the people of every generation: in every age He convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering His love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigor that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to His word and become His disciples. Believers, so Saint Augustine tells us, “strengthen themselves by believing.” The saintly Bishop of Hippo had good reason to express himself in this way. His life was a continual search for the beauty of the faith. His writings, in which he explains the importance of believing and the truth of the faith, continue even now to form a heritage of incomparable riches, and help many people in search of God to find the right path toward the “door of faith.”

Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

On this happy occasion, I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith. We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities, as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.

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. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ...and also the source from which all its power flows.” At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. 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.

 

Benedictus PP. XVI

 

(To be continued next issue).

 

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