NOTE: These are excerpts from a longer paper.
1. The Rationale for the 2012-2013 Year of Faith
The date of the opening of the Year of Faith was chosen carefully. 11 October, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962) and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism of the Catholic Church (1992). The significance of these two events determines considerably the spirit of the Year of Faith. In our time the Second Vatican Council is the great moment of renewal and growing in faith. Blessed John XXIII desired that through the council the Church would become greater in spiritual riches and gain the strength of new energies to look to the future without apprehension. The renewal of the church comes from a rediscovery of its spiritual heritage. This Year of Faith invites us to study again the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that are its fruit in order to rediscover the vitality of the faith we have inherited.
2. The actual situation
Today there is little interest in religion and much less for the theme of the “true religion.” What seems to count are, rather, religious experiences. People are looking for different modalities of religion; making a random selection where everyone ends up taking that which they find pleasing. This makes religion a commodity in the sense of ensuring for them that religious experience that they find more satisfying on the basis of their interests or need of the moment. When the need expires, also the religious experience is discarded. It is unfortunate that many Catholics practice the faith of convenience termed as “cafeteria Catholicism.” Some of our Christians profess the Creed but confine its influence only to participation in the liturgy on Sunday and funeral services. This is leading us to what the Fathers of Vatican II cautioned as the greatest error of our age which is the separation between faith and life. St Paul would further warn: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). The Year of Faith therefore is a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete awareness to what we believe. We are all in the school of faith to get strength to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time with clear focus.
3. We all need to rediscover the journey of faith
Here in Uganda, like the rest of the world, we need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. We may have the capacity to overcome other types of `crisis but let us pay attention never to fall into crisis of faith. When our faith goes down, we all go down with it. Christ the word made flesh became a human person so that we may inherit the faith and be saved. Let us stay steady on the course. It is indeed a wonderful reminder from Pope Benedict XVI that this “door of faith” opens wide human’s gaze to Jesus Christ, present among us “always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
4. Make the parish the cradle of faith
The parish is the primary presence of the church in neighborhoods, the place and instrument of Christian life. It is able to offer opportunities for dialogue among the faithful, for listening to and announcing the Word of God, for organic catechesis, for training in charity, for prayer, adoration and joyous Eucharistic celebrations. During this Year of Faith, parishes should find ways to orient themselves to a greater emphasis on new evangelization that includes renewal programs and retreats. The presence and evangelizing action of associations, movements and other ecclesial realities are useful stimuli for the realization of this pastoral mission. Here we have a model to imitate “the community of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them” (Acts 4:32). Parishes must promote visible establishing of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and outstations that are united around the Eucharist. In order to bring to all people the Good News of Jesus as required, all our parishes and their Small Christian Communities should be living cells, places to promote the personal and communitarian encounter with Christ, experience the richness of liturgy, to give initial and permanent Christian formation and to educate all the faithful in fraternity and charity, especially towards the poor and the disadvantaged. It is “our duty to evangelize these people and assist them to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 21 August 2005).
5. Catechism of the Catholic Church in parishes as a family companion
The Year of Faith invites us to look closely at the contemporary world, its beauty and wounds. When we look with a critical eye, we can see that a lot has to be done in order to give humanity hope. The continuity of the church through the ages allows various forms of renewal. The church receives, celebrates and lives the faith in different historical settings with their unique demands and challenges. There is need to catechize the family and to safeguard the age long values. The Christian family as the domestic Church is the locus and first agent in the giving of life and love, the transmission of faith and the formation of the human person according to the values of the gospel. In imitating Christ, the whole Church must dedicate herself to supporting families by genuinely catechizing them. This is a very important role and parents cannot just be spectators. Learning from the holy family of Nazareth, the family has to operate as a holy unit.
6. Way forward
With the inspiration from this Year of Faith; I recommend the following points to be on our missionary and pastoral agenda as we continue to strive for deeper evangelization.
The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his church. Let us make this Year of Faith our Holy Year.
Rev. Paulino Twesigye Mondo, MCCJ
Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Parish