Year of Faith

New-IdeasIs the New Evangelization merely about New Methods?

It is true that communicating the faith in the Third Millennium does call for a re-proposing the Gospel Message in a way that will be received by the People of God today.  We know that people are less receptive to lectures regarding the truths of the faith than they once were.  Therefore, various tools and methods need to be incorporated (e.g., Video, dialogue, small group interaction, etc.).

At the same time Our Faith must be presented from the living sources of the faith – the liturgy, the Fathers of the Church, the saints, Council documents.  The Catechism does this is an unprecedented manner.   The reality of presenting the immeasurable riches of the Faith from these living sources is key to the New Evangelization.

What do you think?  It would be great to hear your thoughts on this.

This summer I was preparing for the upcoming year and one thing that I really wanted to do is to provide a series of helpful presentations for parents during this Year of Faith.  I’m providing a series of talks on the second Wednesday of each month during our traditional School of Religion classes as a way to encourage and empower parents in their faith lives as their children attend class.  Last month I provided a presentation on what the Year of Faith is and how families can make it a special year.  This month was on “7 Ways To Help Your Kids Get to Heaven”.  Although I had a low turnout, I felt that those who attended enjoyed the presentation.  Below is a copy of my powerpoint if you want to see the 7 points I came up with.  I want to thank Lisa Mladinich and Marc Cardaronella for giving me some input as I was putting this presentation together.


Let us pray for parents this year that the Holy Spirit will lead, guide and strengthen them to be salt and light to their children and to those around them.


7 Ways to Help Your Kids Get To Heaven

Today is a significant day for a few reasons:

1) The Opening of the Second Vatican Council was 50 years ago today.

2) The Catechism of the Catholic Church was published 20 years ago today.

3) The Year of Faith Begins Today!

Pope Benedict announced this year of faith last October 2011 asking the Church to prepare for a year of faith that would “give renewed energy to the Church’s mission to lead men and women out of the desert in which they so often find themselves, and towards the place of life, towards friendship with Christ who gives us life in all its fullness”.  He also spoke of it as an opportunity “to strengthen our faith in Christ and joyfully to announce Him to the men and women of our time”.

What are the implications of this in our ministry?                                                                           

1) Prayer

Prayer is at the top of the list – we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew our faith and the faith of His pilgrim Church.  Due to the secularism of our society we need to draw closer and more fully into the life of Christ.  Maybe that sounds too simplistic but it reminds me of a quote I’m fond of by the late Fr. Thomas Dubay who once wrote:

If we wonder why, despite the millions of us who follow Christ, the world has not long ago been converted, we need not look far for one solution.  We are not perceived as men on fire.  We look too much like everyone else.  We appear to be compromisers, people who say that they believe in everlasting life but actually live as though this life is the only one we have.

Fr. Dubay knew better than most the importance of prayer as he dedicated most of his life to helping others grow in their prayer lives and relationship with God.

A few things to consider regarding prayer:

Adults and Ministry leaders

Take more time during your busy lives to pray or at least get back to being faithful to your daily prayer schedule.


Help your students to grow in prayer by giving them insights on how to pray – take them to the adoration chapel, to the church, spend time at the beginning and end of class praying.  Help them have different prayer experiences – times of silence, times of petition and intercession, times of praise and blessing.  Help them pray with Scripture, help them find life in praying the mysteries of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

2) Renewal

We have to set out this year seeking to lead our students into a deeper relationship with Christ.  We want to avoid emphasizing too much on learning about Jesus at the cost of them getting to know Jesus.  Both are possible and important but sometimes we sacrifice one for the other.

What we need is to go from a “maintenance” mentality to a “mission” mentality.  This requires getting out of our comfort zone and exploring ways to ignite the flame of faith in the lives of our students.  It might mean getting back to the basics – do people know the story?– That God created us in His image and likeness, that sin separated us from God, that God had a plan to bring us back to union with him that was finally fulfilled in Christ who suffered and died for our sins and destroyed death through the Resurrection and Ascension and promised manifold graces to draw His Church to sanctity.

What we need is to go from faith as usual to how can I as a Catholic Christian witness and proclaim my faith so as to lead others closer to Jesus.  One statistic I heard is that only about 17% of Catholics go to Mass every Sunday.  If this is true then we should seek to be on a mission to encourage and help others be drawn back in and want to experience the joy and peace that can only be found in Christ who we experience each time we receive the Eucharist.  Our students will see this if our faith is alive – our faith will by God’s grace “compel” them to want more themselves.

Entrust this Year to Mary                                                 

Last week the Pope made a visit to Our Lady of Loreto seeking her intercession for the Year of Faith.  Let us likewise entrust this year to Mary who shows us the way of Faith par excellence!  Mary, increase our faith, intercede for us and assist us in having all of God’s ways be “done to us according to His word”!

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about a wonderful idea to implement the New Evangelization during an apostolic visit to Germany.  This idea is very worthwhile, especially in the West where people find themselves becoming less engaged in the personal lives of others and more productive and busy with all their commitments in life.  Catechesis and the spiritual lives of the faithful need to be rooted in the person of Christ and help them grow in that longing for true happiness and peace which can only be found in Christ.  Here is Pope Benedict’s idea:

Let us return to the people who lack experience of God’s goodness. They need places where they can give voice to their inner longing. Here we are called to seek new paths of evangelization. Small communities could be one such path, where friendships are lived and deepened in regular communal adoration before God. There we find people who speak of these small faith experiences at their workplace and within their circle of family and friends, and in so doing bear witness to a new closeness between Church and society. They come to see more and more clearly that everyone stands in need of this nourishment of love, this concrete friendship with others and with the Lord. Of continuing importance is the link with the vital life-source that is the Eucharist, since cut off from Christ we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:5).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord always point out to us how together we can be lights in the world and can show our fellow men the path to the source at which they can quench their profound thirst for life.

What ideas are parishes in your area implementing regarding the New Evangelization?                         

 The upcoming Year of Faith promises to be one filled with blessings!  What about this year are you excited about?  Dr. Petroc Willey, editor of the Sower Magazine and Deputy Director of the Maryvale Institute wrote something that really caught my attention.  In the latest edition of the Sower Magazine, he talks about how in the Pope’s Porta Fidei he asks the People of God to make a Profession of Faith in the upcoming year so as to affirm or reaffirm their faith.

Dr. Willey says that “when we profess the Creed we are choosing the One who is everything since ‘the believer’s [act of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities [which they profess]’ (see CCC 170).  The line that really stuck out to me is the following: “In faith the Church reaches out through her profession and touches Christ”.  I think that is so profound.  You don’t hear many talk on Monday morning about going to Mass and getting to profess their faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They don’t talk about how they are reaching out in faith to touch to encounter Christ through their faith-filled profession and affirmation of the Faith.  I think all of us have a yearning to reach out and touch Christ – not just for healing but for strength or because we desire to praise and thank Christ for his goodness and mercies.  We also reach out to seek to serve Him and be holy has He is holy.  There are so many reasons we “reach out to touch Christ”.  The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came to Jesus to “touch” Him so she could be healed.  Now that is an act of faith which brought healing and grace.  Without the woman’s faith that Christ could heal her she would have never been healed but with faith the doors to Christ opened.

In this upcoming Year of Faith let us actively and attentively seek to affirm our faith and draw those who are around us (actively practicing and those who have fallen away) to be touched by the graces and blessings of Christ and His Church who profess the fullness of life, love and grace that are eternal!

Last week I had the great opportunity to be in England and attend a Year of Faith Conference at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham.  It was a short trip but packed with wonderful interactions with professors, current students and a conference about the upcoming Year of Faith (Maryvale was the first home of Blessed John Henry Newman after his conversion to Catholicism).  One of the things highlighted was Maryvale’s Year of Faith Website.  It has up-to-date info on what the Vatican, various diocese and parishes will be planning for this upcoming year.  They announced multiple resources that will be coming out this year (you can buy and download at an affordable price from their website).

Another key piece of the day was discussing the 4 major theme’s of Action (or action items) for this year (I will be discussing these  further in a future post).  In Short the 4 themes are:

1. Studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council

2. Studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church

3. Proclaiming the Creed and making an explicit profession of Faith

4. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (particularly on Corpus Christi Sunday 2013 where Pope Benedict has asked the faithful throughout the world to adore the Lord in the Eucharist at the same time (more to come out on this from the Vatican).

Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio  entitled Porta Fidei is worth reading.  Motu Proprio means “from the heart”.  Pope Benedict wants a reckoning of the Faith and desires that the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community be strengthened and renewed so that the Church will be a credible and joyful witness of Christ.

This year is a part of the New Evangelization and will set in motion great things to come.  Let us pray for all that Christ has for us this year and for His Church so that He may be glorified now and forever!

Upcoming Symposium on the New Evangelization

Recently, the Vatican News Agency reported that the symposium on the New Evangelization will address “the necessity to revisit” those areas of the world “that have been evangelized maybe for 1000 years or 500 years and where the faith was once very strong” but where “now people are rather cold in the faith.”

It will also stress the need for this “new freshness” and “new ardor” to be communicated using new technology.

Cardinal Arinze believes that life in the Western world has “many other offers to the human person” which are “attracting” or even “distracting” people away from Christianity so that “the message of Christ can sometimes be forgotten, given a second place, put as a footnote.”

Eye Opening Quote:

“So someone has to come who has the enthusiasm of an evangelizer, who has the convincing power of a witness who lives with conviction what that witness is preaching” and who is also “ready to use modern methods to contact people.”

What Is Needed?

Three things Cardinal Arinze says are needed: 1) Enthusiasm 2) the convincing power of a witness and 3) one who will use modern methods to engage others and lead them closer to Christ and His Church.

As a catechist and as a lay member of the Body of Christ, I am called, you are called and the faithful are called to have these three qualities in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those they encounter in their everyday lives.

Many are confused about why it has to be “new” regarding evangelization.  It goes without saying that the Church as always evangelized and exists in order to evangelize.  However, what is need today is a “new ardor”, “new expressions” and “new methods” of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ who is “the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Fleshing It Out

How have you “fleshed out” this new “ardor, expression and methods” of the New Evangelization?  I would be grateful if you took a moment and left a comment.

It has been exciting to see Pope Benedict vision in his pontificate.  In the first year of His pontificate he came out with an encyclical letter on Charity. His next encyclical letter two year later was on Hope.  And now in 2012 He is not merely writing on Faith but he is proclaiming a year of Faith for the Universal Church to celebrate.  I really like some of the ideas Pope Benedict has recommended as well as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  Here are some things that stuck out to me and that our parish might be able to focus on:


1)      The New Evangelization (finding fresh ways with new ardor to bring the Gospel message to our parishioners)

2)      An emphasis on “witness of life” (this is always key in Religious Education classes as well as the whole parish)

3)      Coordinating different kinds of pilgrimages (maybe one to Jerusalem and/or maybe to a local shrine or cathedral)

4)      Devotion to Mary (encouraging families to pray together more is one important focus that could be encouraged)

5)      Maybe an opening event on Thursday October 11th to commemorate the “Year of Faith”.

6)      Study of the Second Vatican documents and Catechism (adult faith offerings)

7)      The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith speaks of attention being given to homilies, catechesis, addresses and other speeches and documents of the Holy Father.  (This might be a good small group study)

8)      Evangelization and outreach to those who have fallen away from the practice of the faith.

9)   Also not directly mentioned but an emphasis on hospitality at the parish level.  How do people feel when they come into our doors – do they feel welcome and cared about or are they just another number?


These are a number of ideas that come to my mind and that I will be writing about as we approach the year of faith.  What is your diocese or parish planning on doing for the upcoming year?  May the Holy Spirit lead Her Church to “rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ”(from Pope Benedict’s Porta Fidei on the Year of Faith).