What is the year of faith all about? Print
Year of Faith
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

By Patrick Delaney

year of faith column logoOn Thursday of this week (October 11), the Church will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th Anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s promulgation with the initiation of a very special Year of Faith.

In his apostolic letter Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI called for this special year —which will conclude on November 24, 2013 — with the primary aim “to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.” He also intends this year to be “a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist,” and to “intensify the witness of charity.”

Due to the earnestness of the Holy Father’s hope for this Year, he was not merely satisfied releasing this special document and allowing the particular churches to fetter out all the means of creatively implementing its objectives. To assist in providing concrete suggestions for such implementation, he invited the Congregation for the Doctrine (CDF) of the Faith, with the other competent Dicasteries of the Holy See, to draw up a note, providing the Church and individual believers with some ideas on how to observe this Year of Faith in a worthy and fruitful manner “at the service of belief and evangelization.”

Building the lay mission

Thus, the CDF released its note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith which provides 40 suggestions for a variety of levels of ecclesial life. At the “parish/community/association/movement” level, the very first suggestion provided is that “all of the faithful are invited to read closely and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter, Porta Fidei.”

In order to assist in this process, individuals from the diocesan evangelization offices in the state of Wisconsin teamed-up to construct a brief three-part study guide for this document. The primary objective was to provide a tool where the staffs of our Catholic schools and parishes, along with adult small groups, could pray together, encounter the essence of the Holy Father’s themes, meditate upon them, and respond in faith. Each of the three sessions is designed to be completed within 30 to 40 minutes with an additional 15 minutes being suggested to complete a simple “Tour of the Catechism” exercise.

Contents of the study

The first session of the series introduces the purpose for the Year of Faith, and provides tools for meditating on the definition and purpose of faith itself. Where does faith come from? What are its constitutive parts and who is involved in such an action?

It then goes on to guide participants through Pope Benedict’s emphasis on the necessity of the faithful actually studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council which hold the keys for renewing the Church in the coming century and provide the basis for the New Evangelization. It briefly explores the background and purpose of the Council, its special emphasis on the mission of the lay faithful — as members of Christ’s Mystical Body called to actualize His mission in the world through holiness of life and evangelization.

Continuing formation

The second session picks up where the first left off providing a definition and mediation on the New Evangelization, the necessity for the faithful to always be growing in their faith through study and prayer, and answering the question of how the confessing our faith “with our lips” impacts our social responsibility in the public square.

Finally, the third session focuses on how the ongoing formation we are called to should necessarily involve study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, where we can not only “arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith,” but, indeed, encounter the Person of Jesus Christ “who lives within the Church.” This session goes on to briefly summarize the witness of faith provided by the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles, disciples, martyrs, consecrated women and men, and laity of all ages who provide witness to Jesus Christ through their holiness and lives of joyful charity.

This “Three-Part Study Guide for Porta Fidei –— The ‘Door of Faith’” can be accessed for free at the Diocese of Madison Web site:, or, if you have questions, please feel free to call the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis at 608-821-3160.

Patrick Delaney is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Madison.