Year of Faith
“The light of Faith: this is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: ‘I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness’” (Jn 12:46).
The quote above is from Light of Faith, the first encyclical by Pope Francis (released last July). Pope Benedict XVI wrote most of it for the Year of Faith that closes on November 24, the feast of Christ the King
Faith can illumine every aspect of human existence. Pope Francis writes, “I have taken up his [Pope Benedict XVI’s] fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”
Chapter 1 opens with “We have believed in love,” based on 1 John 4:16. The call of faith requires listening and then acting, usually in a new way, as Abraham and all of Israel did. The Old Testament promises converge on Jesus (God who uniquely entered human history). Union with him nourishes our faith.
“Unless you believe, you will not understand” (from Is 7:9) is the title of chapter 2. Faith leads us into God’s truth, far from fanaticism. Such a faith can dialogue with all cultures because it prepares us to enter into God’s dialogue of communion.
St. Paul’s quote “I delivered to you what I also received” (1 Cor 15:3) begins chapter 3. Believers in every age instinctively share the light of faith. The sacraments greatly assist this process. The Eucharist connects us to Jesus’ saving gift that opens up our future. Faith shapes our daily decisions.
Chapter 4 is entitled “God prepares a city for them” (Heb 11:16). Faith begins a journey at the service of justice, love, and peace, preparing us to feel “at home” in the heavenly city that God provides. “Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives.” It is based on “God’s faithfulness, which is stronger than our every weakness.”
Faith affirms the dignity of each person, offering the possibility of forgiveness and strength amid suffering. The pope mentions St. Francis of Assisi and the leper, as well as Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata’s service to the poor. The Blessed Virgin Mary remains a model disciple.
The encyclical’s full text is available at vatican.va. It is also condensed in our October 2013 Catholic Update.
Born to a journalist father and a socialactivist mother, Dorothy Day (1897- 1980) became a journalist and a Catholic and, in 1933, cofounded, with Peter Maurin, the Catholic Worker movement and newspaper.
She ended a common-law marriage in order to be baptized with her daughter, Tamar. Dorothy had earlier aborted a child, a decision she very publicly regretted. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults describes her life as “dedicated to seeking holiness, defending life, and promoting social justice and peace.” Her autobiography is entitled The Long Loneliness. Her faith-filled letters and journals have been published. Her cause for canonization was begun by the Archdiocese of New York in 2000.