Thursday, 25 October 2012

SUMMARY OF Apostolic Letter - Porta Fidei - Pope Benedict XVI

Summary of the recent Motu Proprio "Porta Fidei" by The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the Indictment of the YEAR OF FAITH, AD 2012-2013.
Full text:

1. The door of faith is always open to us. It is possible to walk through the door when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. Walking through the door sets us on a lifelong journey.

2. There is a 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.

3. The people of today still experience a longing for Jesus. We cannot accept that salt should be tasteless. We must rediscover how to feed ourselves with the Word of God, through the Church.

4. In light of this, Pope Benedict XVI has called "The Year of Faith". In 1967, Pope Paul VI intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past. Pope Benedict XVI wants to continue that.

5. The Documents of Vatican II need to be read and interpreted correctly, become widely known, and taken to heart as important and normative texts within the Church's tradition.

6. The renewal of the Church is also achieved by the witness and lives of Christians. We are called to radiate Christ and all He has left us. The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. “Faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life (cf. Rom 12:2; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:20-29; 2 Cor 5:17).

7. It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today too, there is a need for strong ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God.

8. Pope Benedict XVI invited all the Bishops of the world to join him. We want to celebrate this year of faith in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.

9. Aspire to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. The Year of Faith is a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist. We pray that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year. Memorize our Creed and say it everywhere and often!

10. Here is a path intended to help us understand more profoundly the content of the faith, and the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom.

There exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.

There is a woman in Sacred Scripture named Lydia and “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.

Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. Faith in Jesus points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Holy Spirit makes us fit for fearless, frank, public witness of the faith, which was clearly demonstrated at Pentecost.

Profession of faith is an act both personal (I Believe) and communitarian (We Believe). 

Knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one’s own assent to the faith. Giving assent implies that you believe everything the Church teaches because God gave it to us.

There are also those who do not claim to have faith but are sincerely searching for the truth, which is a preamble to faith, on the path toward the mystery of God. Human reason itself has a permanent demand for something lasting and true, which is the encounter with God. To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.

11. For a systematic knowledge of the content of faith, The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an  indispensable resource.

Today, more than ever, we are faced with new questions, but we are not afraid to show there cannot be a conflict between faith and science.

13. This year, we must retrace our history of faith: the mysteries of holiness and sin. During this, we must keep our gaze fixed on Christ.

By faith, Mary said yes.
By faith, Mary stood with Jesus
By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of the Resurrection of Jesus
By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master
By faith, the Apostles believed Jesus' teachings
By faith, the Apostles preached the Gospel throughout the whole world
By faith, the disciples offered the first Eucharist and gathered reading Scripture
By faith, the Martyrs gave their lives
By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ
By faith, unknown men and women have confessed Jesus and borne witness to Him in the workplace and in public life
We too live by faith.

14. The Year of Faith is a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity: Faith without charity bears no fruit.

15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith.

“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.

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