Friday, June 14, 2013

Defending The Faith In The Year Of Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Our Holy Father Pope Francis recently wrote to a friend in Argentina explaining the reason for his reluctance thus far to move into the apos­tolic palace. It would look ridiculous, he elaborated, for one to change at his age. I would demur, however, crediting the Holy Father with the capacity to make one of the most dramatic and demanding changes pos­sible in this world, having been vaulted himself from his role as cardi­nal archbishop of Buenos Aires to that of Pope and universal Pastor.

As well, he has demanded changes of the oldest institution in the world’s history through his innovative pastoral approaches and the Bride of Christ appears to be coming through the transformation just fine. Change at any age for the sake of Christ and His people is laud­able and sometimes necessary for all of us.

While speaking of change — which is necessary in the life of all for the sake of flourishing spiritually as grace builds upon nature for the sake of salvation — we find ourselves celebrating the Year of Faith in the midst of a rapidly changing world.

In March, during his address to religious leaders who attended his inauguration Mass, Pope Francis spoke about his hopes for the Year of Faith: “ I begin my apostolic ministry in this year during which my venera­ble Predecessor, Benedict XVI, with true inspiration, proclaimed the Year of Faith for the Catholic Church. With this initiative, that I wish to con­tinue and which I hope will be an inspiration for every one’s journey of faith, he wished to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, thus proposing a sort of pilgrimage toward what for every Christian represents the essential: the personal and transforming rela­tionship with Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died and rose for our sal­vation. This effort to proclaim this eternal treasure of faith, to the peo­ple of our time, lies at the heart of the council’s message.”

We are now in great need of this “ eternal treasure of faith.”

One pastor recently commented that many of us would rather find ourselves before a persecuting tribunal for the sake of defending the supernatural truths of Revelation such as the divinity of Christ, His Real Presence in the Eucharist, the divine foundation of the Church or the Holy Trinity. Instead we find ourselves all before the tribunal of the world called to defend the truths of nature instead. Denial of sexual complement­arity between man and woman, the right of children to be brought into the world by one man and one woman, and the natural institution of marriage between one man and one woman are instead the new “ heresies” against which we struggle.

The instruments of persecution which Christians face today in West­ern societies are the power of the media in which the change agents cloak themselves, and the force of tyranny of lawmakers who claim com­passion and equality as their mantra of caprice. Raw power bullies those who are weak in faith and poor in philosophical formation and many fall through lack of the means to defend themselves. These crises which have befallen us partly as a result of the catechetical emergency in­form us about the necessary focus for this Year of Faith.

Demonstrating that grace builds on nature and that our flourishing in the spirit depends upon our respect for the body as the gift of a be­nevolent Creator is a necessary first step for all. Though the matter of supernatural Revelation covered well by the
Catechism of the Catho­lic Church is certainly necessary for our salvation, being itself the de­posit of the matter of the faith by which we are saved, the base of na­ture upon which it is built is no less necessary.

Offering the faithful the building blocks for faith is a necessary first step.

Our celebration of this Year of Faith will bear fruit if we look to the challenges our people face in the daily living of the faith and if priests take account of them in our weekly preaching on the Lord’s Day. + + + (“ Like” Fr. Cusick’s public Facebook page “ Reverendo Padre- Kevin Michael Cusick” to subscribe and follow him on Twitter at MCITL. Fr. Cusick blogs at APriestLife. blogspot. com.
Meeting Christ in the Litur­gy at mcitl. blogspot. com offers teachings from the Catechism of the Catholic Church paired with the Scriptures of the Sacred Liturgy for Sundays and weekdays.)

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