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?
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.
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”!