Bernardo M. Villegas
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Celebrating the Year of Faith

      

 

      Last October 7, all those of us in the Archdiocese of Manila heard from our respective parish priests about the Year of Faith that started yesterday, October 11, 2012.  In a Pastoral Letter from our beloved Archbishop of Manila, His Excellency Luis Antonio G. Tagle, we were informed that Pope Benedict XVI, in his apostolic Letter Porta Fidei announced a Year of Faith that would begin on October 11, 2012 and will conclude on November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King. 

 

          The Pastoral Letter was a very timely reminder for two generations of Catholics who are co-existing today:  those of us who witnessed  during the decades of the sixties and seventies the transition of our Church from pre-Vatican II to post-Vatican II; and those younger  people who were born in the last twenty years who have little recollection of the turbulent period during those years immediately after the Second Vatican Council, when all types of heretical teachings were being spread by a  minority  in the name of renewal   I still remember the excesses of the so-called "liberation Theology;" the abuses of the phrase "the Church for the poor;"  the erroneous interpretations of the liturgical reforms; and the disfiguring of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of  Confession. 

          We welcome very much the words of Archbishop Tagle:  "A proper interpretation of the Council does not allow a view of the \'post-Vatican II Church\'  that disparages and \'corrects\' the \'pre-Vatican Church\' by disregarding the Tradition, simplistically exalting what came after the Council as good and criticizing what went before it as bad.  Neither does a proper hermeneutic of  Vatican II allow the reverse that  is,  judging the \'post-Vatican II Church\' as a deviation from the Apostolic Faith as though the true Church stopped existing after Vatican II.  A mere glance at the sources used in the sixteen documents of the Council shows that there exists a profound continuity in the Church, the continuity of faith assured by the Holy Spirit.  The year of Faith invites us to study again the Second Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that is its fruit in order to rediscover the vitality of the faith we have inherited."

          I want to reproduce here the action program that should proceed from our sincerely wanting to celebrate the Year of Faith.  I hope those of us who heard or read the Pastoral Letter will implement the recommendations for contemplation and action given to us by Archbishop Tagle:

          a) A deeper understanding of what we believe in through an intensified Biblical apostolate program, review of the documents of Vatican II and teachings emanating from it like the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines and the Second Provincial Council of Manila and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  (Here, let me encourage Catholic lay people to organize many study circles and Bible study groups in which the more informed ones will help the others  understand better the basic doctrines of our Faith, with special emphasis on the Social Doctrine of the Church.)

          b)  A renewed appreciation and celebration of the mystery of the faith in sacrament, liturgy and prayer. (Here, let me recommend supplementing the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist

with more frequent confessions, say at least once a month,  if not weekly.)

          c)  A joyful living of the faith expressed especially through conversion, a moral life governed by justice and charity, solidarity with and service of the poor, and courageous witness to what we believe in. (Here, I will suggest a special focus on how employers, both in business enterprises and households, promote the integral human development of their employees.)

          d)  A rediscovery of ecclesial communion where the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit are offered and developed to strengthen the Church and serve its mission here and even abroad. (Here, I would recommend being especially conscious of how we show examples on the ways we live our faith in practical details of our daily life to all the non-Christians with whom we are in daily contact in our respective environments, such as the tens of thousands of non-Christian South Koreans in our country and our Muslim brothers and sisters with whom we interact.  When the appropriate occasions arise, we should not hesitate to proclaim to them the tenets of our faith, while respecting their freedom of consciences.)

          I want to end with the concluding words of Archbishop Tagle, highlighting his reference to the Mother of God as our model and guide:  "We believe that as Christians we are urged on by the love of Christ to help construct a world of truth, justice, harmony and peace.  The Year of Faith also opens for the Church in the Philippines a nine-year preparation for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Christian Faith on our shores.  With Mary as our model and guide, let us welcome the Year of Faith in the Archdiocese of Manila and trust that it would bear fruit for the Church and humanity."  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.