Welcoming the Year of Faith: Rediscover the faith you received at Baptism. Share it with others. Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Those of us who are “cradle Catholics” — baptized as babies, raised in Catholic homes, educated in Catholic schools — may wonder why we should participate in the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

We’re already believers, so this Year of Faith must be for other people, right?


Experiencing a new conversion

In announcing the Year of Faith, the Holy Father said it is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei, 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for all Catholics — even cradle Catholics — to experience a new conversion. It’s an opportunity to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.

The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith.” This door was originally opened at our Baptism, but many of us weren’t aware of what was happening at that time.

During the Year of Faith we’re called to open it again, walk through it, and rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ and his Church.

Why the Year of Faith at this time?

Why is there a Year of Faith at this time in history? In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei (which I encourage people to download from the Vatican Web site at as I did and print it out for reading and study), Pope Benedict XVI laments that today there is a “profound crisis of faith that has affected many people.”

He observes that in the past there was a more unified “cultural matrix.” People used to think of faith “as a self-evident presupposition for life in general,” notes the Holy Father. People previously held more commonly shared faith and values. Not so today, where the pope says that not only are faith and values not shared, but they are “often openly denied.”

However, the pope believes that people of today can still experience faith. “Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power,” he asserts. What must happen is that believers must strengthen their own faith and be willing to share it with others.

Two special anniversaries

There were two anniversaries which led the Holy Father to select the date of October 11, 2012, for the beginning of the Year of Faith.

October 11 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Both of these anniversaries have special significance. Pope Benedict XVI quotes Blessed John Paul II in calling the Second Vatican Council “the great grace bestowed on the Church in the 20th century.”

The pope said the Year of Faith provides a good opportunity to help people understand the texts bequeathed by the council fathers, which, in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. These documents need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the  Church’s Tradition.”

As a student at Aquinas High School in La Crosse during the Second Vatican Council, I can remember studying some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. I still have some of those documents and found them in a box in our basement. I am looking forward to rereading the documents and deepening my own understanding of what they said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict points out, was actually an “authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council.” It was requested by the bishops at a synod in 1985 to be an instrument at the service of catechesis. It was produced in collaboration with all the bishops of the Catholic Church.

I can still remember when the Catechism was distributed by Bishop William H. Bullock to the people of the Diocese of Madison in a special liturgy at St. Raphael Cathedral in 1993. Since then, I’ve found the Catechism to be a wonderful compendium of Catholic teaching, to which I refer many times. We should continue to study the Catechism, and there will be opportunities to do so in our diocese through Seat of  Wisdom Institute classes.

By the way, the official prayer of the Year of Faith is the “Nicene Creed.” As we know, the words of the creed changed slightly with the publication of the new Roman Missal last year. During the Year of Faith we are invited to pray the creed every day.

Sharing our faith

Besides study and reflection, Pope Benedict also urges all Catholics to witness to their faith through evangelization and outreach to others in charity and service.

“It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize,” he says in Porta Fidei. “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.”

It seems as if Catholics in modern times have not been as eager to evangelize as people of other denominations. We have often lived our faith quietly and privately.

But it may be necessary for us to share our faith more openly, to let our light shine for others to see. We can do this, as the Holy Father suggests, by intensifying “the witness of charity.” He notes that “faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.”

How the Catholic Herald will help

To help our readers observe the Year of  Faith, which concludes on November 24, 2013, the Catholic Herald will provide weekly articles concerning the Year of Faith — starting with a special wrap-around section in this issue. We will include articles by local authors, including Abbot Marcel  Rooney of the Orate Institute, who will be doing a series on the sacraments, and many other writers from the Diocese of Madison. We will be taking a look at the Second Vatican Council documents, the liturgy, and various aspects of the New Evangelization, to name a few.

All of these articles will be archived on the Catholic Herald Web site ( and will be shared via Facebook and Twitter. We will also point people to resources for the Year of Faith available in the Diocese of Madison, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and at the Vatican.

The Catholic Herald would also like to feature Witnesses of Faith, people in our diocese who are living their faith every day. Please e-mail suggestions of people to feature to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We encourage readers to share the Catholic Herald with others and invite them to subscribe through their parish or by contacting our office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 608-821-3070.

Let’s welcome the Year of Faith with open arms and open hearts. Let’s walk through that door, rediscover the faith we received at Baptism, and share it with others.