Today, Catholics celebrate the beginning of the Year of Faith. What is the Year of Faith?
According the the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website: "The upcoming Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI 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 Catholics to experience a conversion – 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” (see Acts 14:27). The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church."
Don't you love the "door of faith" imagery? I wish we didn't need a special "summons" from the Holy Father to learn about our faith and grow closer to Christ, but since many of us do (myself included), don't pass up this opportunity to learn more about the beauty of the Church. Here are a few ideas of how to use this year to grow in faith:
1. Read the Catechism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church isn't exactly a page-turner, but it does contain the invaluable wisdom of the Church. Imagine how much you would grow in faith by reading the entire Catechism. Sound daunting? Sign up to receive daily emails from Flocknote, each with a little snippet from the Catechism. Read a little each day and read the entire Catechism in a year! Hurry, sign up now so you don't miss any!
2. Defend the faith. I often remain silent when I hear a negative comment about the faith. Sometimes it's because I think that I'm not capable of saying anything that is going to make a difference. Other times, it's because I don't have the apologetic knowledge to counter negative arguments. More often then not, I'm silent out of fear. My personal goal this year is to speak up when I hear negative comments about the Church and (with the Holy Spirit's guidance) counter with kind, logical, and fierce arguments in Her defense.
3. Let no question go unanswered. When I accepted that the Catholic Church has the fullness of the Truth, I put my trust in Her completely. While faith in the Church is certainly a blessing, it means that I don't often ask the "why?" questions. Let me tell you, "Because the Church said so" doesn't go very far in a faith discussion. The Year of Faith is the perfect time to look into the "whys" of the Church. If you (or someone around you) wonders why the Church has a particular teaching, don't stop searching for the answers until you have them.
4. Read a book. Ignatum Today has a great list of 100 Catholic books for the Year of Faith. Read one (or all 100).
5. Share the faith. Have you felt called to share the faith with someone in your life but held back? This is your time to do it! Have you purposely avoided sharing that you are Catholic? You don't necessarily need to shout it from the mountaintops, but if occasions arise to share a little about your beliefs, take them!
6. Find a Patron Saint for the year. (Or a Patron Saint in general, if you don't have one.) Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary has this amazing Saint's Name Generator if you need help. What better way to grow deeper in faith than by following the example and seeking the intercession of those with great faith that came before us?
7. Start a new faith habit. Perhaps you would like to start praying the rosary every day. (Perhaps you need to start praying every day in general? Don't worry, you're not alone!) Maybe you've wanted to start setting 5 minutes in the morning for scripture. Or you've decided you want to go to daily Mass. Just like you might start new healthy habits at the beginning of a calendar year, make a faith resolution for the Year of Faith.
To learn more about the Year of Faith, visit the Year of Faith official website and the USCCB's Year of Faith resources. For more ideas of how to bring the Year of Faith alive in your life, see my friend Jamie's post at her blog, For Love of Cupcakes.
If you’re Catholic and have been away from the Church, I invite you to use the Year of Faith as an opportunity to learn more about the faith and come home. We miss you! For more info, check out Catholics Come Home.
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