The profound crisis of faith that has affected many people arriving at the stage where the faith is no longer today considered an obvious precondition for life in society and so the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to introduce the Year of Faith so that every Christian may rediscover their journey of faith. The faith is that door that introduces us into communion with God and allows us to enter His Church.
It is possible to cross the threshold of this door and start our journey of faith when “when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.” (Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei n.1) As St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, the faith depends on what is heard (cfr Rom 10:17) as in fact “how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (Rm 10:14)
With the Year of Faith, the Holy Father hopes for the presence of new, courageous, ardent proclaimers of the Gospel who are full of zeal for souls and desire to make Christ known to those who are far from the faith. He hopes that those who have fallen away from the practice of their faith will be able to rediscover it and that those who think of themselves as a believer only because they have received the sacrament of Baptism will be able to grow into the maturity of the faith.
We have an obligation to give witness to Christ in a world that is living in darkness and considers itself to be in the light. All Christians are called to the front line to renew their faith and to bear witness to it. “We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden” (cfr. Mt 5:13-16) The Christian is like a lighted lantern that stands on a lampstand so that “it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:15). The light that the Christian is called to diffuse around himself comes not only from the words he speaks but, above all else, from his works. Good works done through faith and love of Jesus are valued more than many words and teachings not supported with constant actions. “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Mt 5:16) As Pope Paul VI said “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (Pope Paul VI, Address to the Members of the Consilium de Laicis, 2 October 1974)
On one hand “We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God … and on the bread of life” (Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei n.3) whilst, on the other hand, we must listen to the powerful testimony of those who live the faith deeply, even sometimes to the extent of giving their lives in martyrdom, as examples that can encourage us in the faith.
Let us start this Year of Faith with joy, by asking the Lord to grant us many spiritual fruits and that many tepid souls or souls who are far from God may become enflamed with the faith and start to bear their witness to Christ in the third millennium.