Are We Ready for the Year of Faith?
Pope Benedict XVI is giving us a great opportunity in this New Year to make a big difference. In October he announced the “Year of Faith” which according to Vatican statements is designed to help Catholics around the world deepen their relationship with God, better appreciate the gift of our Catholic faith, and strengthen our commitment to sharing the Catholic faith with others. The observance is set to begin October 11th, 2012 which also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The “Year of Faith” will then conclude on November 24th, 2013, the feast of Christ the King.
We have ten months to prepare for this important celebration but are we or will we be ready when October 11th rolls around? What can I do better or differently to enhance not only my own relationship with Jesus but to help spread the good news? These are questions I’ve been asking myself since the announcement was made.
Actually these are questions I ask myself quite often. Because of my work in Catholic media, I am blessed to be surrounded by some pretty amazing evangelizers. It seems like at least once or twice a week I say “I want to be more like him or her. Why can’t I be that strong of a public witness?”
Take for example my friend Steve Ray. Steve is an accomplished Catholic author, speaker, and apologist. A major part of his ministry includes leading pilgrimages around the world with his specialty being the Holy Land. Steve is a convert to Catholicism and being that he has a Baptist background it is probably no surprise that Steve has never had any trouble defending Christ or witnessing and that enthusiasm has been multiplied since entering the Church seventeen years ago. In early December he was in the Ave Maria Radio studios to help us during one of our fundraisers. He shared a story over the air waves that gave me chills. It is a story that would make Pope Benedict proud and is I think exactly what the Holy Father wants us to do more of; unabashedly witness as to why we are Catholic.
In Steve’s case he took a little help from St Francis of Assisi by wearing a beautiful San Damiano crucifix around his neck. As Steve explains, he was on his way to another speaking engagement when the man sitting next to him complimented him on the cross. He asked Steve what it was. Steve explained the history behind the cross and also told the fellow passenger that he wears it show his love for the Catholic Church.
The man asked him if he really believed it and Steve said “so much so that I would die for it.” The man put on his headphones and stared out the window. About ten minutes later, as Steve tells it, the man tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to tell him more about the Catholic Church. “Can you explain to me why I should be a Catholic?” Steve then spent the next two hours on that flight sharing the truth about the Catholic faith. What an opportunity and as the Pope said in his apostolic letter used to announce the “Year of Faith”, this is the way our faith spreads.
“Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”
We can start communicating our faith by taking some simple steps. Why not start by asking someone to Mass or by wearing your crucifix in a way that is very visible rather than keeping it tucked away hidden from view? Maybe we’ll never become a well known apologist but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we will be answering the Baptismal call of evangelization. And who knows maybe when October 11th we will ready for the “Year of Faith.”