Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Synopsis of the Holy Father's Catechesis for October 31
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI continues in his catechesis in this Year of Faith by asking a series of questions which bring into focus the importance of a life of faith for “living life to the full”. (cf. John 10:10) The first of these questions is “What is faith?” Good question this is in a world that seems to know everything about everything but leaves questions of God to the subjective realm of opinion. While faith does have some personal aspects it is not fundamentally so. Faith is not merely opinions about God and His creation by which we may or may not live more or less consciously. The content of our faith has been revealed to us by God Himself and it is lived in community. Therefore, it is not in the realm of opinion, but rather it is facts to which we must choose to submit ourselves and which must be allowed to rule the whole of our lives.
Faith is also not just content revealed by God. It is also a content about which we order our lives thus the basis upon which we act, that is, the moral life. This includes rules (commandments & precepts) of course, but it is more, for those who have truly fallen in love with God and desire an intimate relationship with Him, a way of life which preserves and grows that relationship of love. Thus, it is not a burden and we are able to live almost as if there are no rules since we will try to anticipate one another in showing love for God and for our neighbor.
Our Holy Father asks if it makes sense to have faith in a world dominated by science and technology. He goes on to ask, “What does it mean to believe today?” For so many people, especially those who like to belittle faith, this project is about providing explanations that will calm people who are ignorant and afraid living in the big world that so often seems cruel and cold; Marx’s “opiate of the masses”. Our Holy Father points out that technological triumphs and scientific discoveries have not really lessened our suffering, especially our existential suffering.
Existential suffering is that suffering brought about by our lack of answers and confidence regarding the really big questions in life. “What is life’s meaning?” “Is there a future for humanity, for us and for the generations to come?” “In which direction should we orient our free decisions for a good and successful outcome in life?” “What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?”
In this year of faith we are called to recognize, celebrate, and proclaim to our neighbors that there are answers to these most important questions regarding our existence. God has answered these questions in a particularly definitive way through the mystery of the Incarnation, that is, the taking on flesh (birth) of His only begotten Son, and through that Son’s Paschal Mystery, that is, His passion, death and resurrection. We are called upon not merely to know about these things but to KNOW, that is, to be in relationship with the answer to our deepest longings – Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, “having faith, then, is meeting this “You”, God, who supports me and grants me the promise of an indestructible love that not only aspires to eternity but gives it” In this we see the truth of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Believing is possible only by grace and the interior help of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act…contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason.” Thus, led by the spirit, which is given to us as a free gift resulting from His establishment of a relationship of love with us, we give witness to this love, this relationship through our own actions. In this exchange of “gifts” between God and man we come to understand what FAITH indeed is.
May the ever-virgin Mary, and all the Saints in light, by the prayers and example help us to receive fully and respond to God’s invitation to each and all of us to be one with Him in the unity of the Trinity, now and forever.