Last year when Pope Benedict XVI announced the up-coming Year of Faith, I had a feeling of excitement and exhilaration at the thought of an entire year dedicated to our Catholic faith. I learned later, after reading Porta Fidea, his Apostolic Letter explaining the focus of the Year of Faith, that the goal is three-fold. Being that the Year began on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II as well as the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Papa Bene has asked us to actually learn our faith, both using the Catechism as well as the documents of Vatican II. At a gathering of Lay Catholics last fall the pope said, “The real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith.” We don’t really even know what our faith teaches as a community of Catholic believers. Secondly, we are invited to instill what we learn in our lives, beginning to live the faith that we are learning. After all, we are called to be Catholics not just do the Catholic thing. Finally, after learning what this beautiful faith teaches and then learning to live by its guidance, we should be open to an encounter with Christ. We don’t have to be fully knowledgable in the faith to have an encounter with the Son of God, but it’s very much like falling in love more and more as you get to know the one you love. This is what the Year of Faith offers if we are open to receive it.
So how does this have anything to do with the election? While getting prepared for different talks we would be giving about the Year of Faith long before the election, another thought came to mind. What if the Holy Father was inspired by the Holy Spirit to schedule this Year of Faith because our country was going to be in desperate need to gain a closer relationship with God through learning the faith He left to guide us to Him? What if we were going to have four more years of a decline in morals, ethics and the common good for all? Well, here we are.
I awoke this morning, the day after the election, with a sick feeling in my stomach and tears in my eyes. You might wonder why or you might be a kindred spirit that understands. I worry about my own children and grandchildren to come. What kind of country will they have in which to raise their families? Will they be able to be openly Catholic? Will my grandchildren know the horrors of abortion and the defilement of the Sacrament of Marriage when both become commonly accepted? There is such an equal divide on these issues and many other issues in our country. Will these issues bring us to a civil war on our own soil?
Enough! I had to tell myself. We may have lost the battle as Christian Catholics but we know who wins the war! Father John Harden said, “You do not remain faithful to the Savior without paying for it.” It may be time to pay up. We have lived a life of ease as Christians in this nation for over 200 years. In the early years, Catholics were persecuted in some areas, but today, Catholics are free to worship as our faith dictates. The winds, they are a’changing. That day may be coming to a screeching halt. So what do we do about it?
We have been given the Year of Faith for a reason. It is our year of boot-camp. It is our opportunity for a crash course to really find out what God intends in our individual lives, our marriages, our families, our society. Our hearts crave truth and the Catholic faith offers the Way, the Truth and the Life; Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, the complete Truth. If you are married at this time, would you be if you had only spent one hour a week with your spouse? Likely not. You had to spend time together learning each other’s interests and gifts. The Year of Faith offers us a concentrated year of learning God’s interests and gifts. Since we are created in His image and likeness, we will most likely find a beautiful relationship with our Creator as we learn more about Him and the faith He gave us to lead us back to Him in Heaven.
LifeSiteNews made this statement today, “ Despite the Obama administration’s attacks on freedom of religion, and Obama’s support for abortion, embryonic stem cell research and gay “marriage,” the president still took home exactly half of the Catholic vote, slightly ahead of Romney’s 48%.” Why is that? It is because many, many Catholics don’t even know what the faith teaches and they certainly don’t know why! It’s time to grow up and be Catholics on our own accord, not just because “that’s how I was raised.” What does it mean to be Catholic? Why am I really Catholic? How is my faith supposed to affect how I live? These, and many more, are questions that should be answered by each and every Catholic during the Year of Faith. Join a Bible study, a book study, a document study at your parish. If there’s not one, start one. Dive into this beautiful ocean of joy and truth that God has given us. The economy is not going to save us eternally, but our faith has the potential to do just that if we embrace it. Plus our faith is where we will experience that encounter with Christ where we will find the ultimate joy. As St. Augustine prayed, “”You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Enjoy the Year of Faith and may you be greatly blessed at the end as you grow closer to the One who reigns supreme.
Copyright 2012 Diane Schwind