|Crucifix on the wall of the sanctuary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Much have been said about the Year of Faith and finally it is here. That began in Singapore with a formal ceremony and Mass celebration at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Thursday, 11 October at 8.00 p.m.
During this weekend, in the parishes, there would be ceremonies to enthrone the Creed and calls for a more reflective reading and deepening of the Vatican II documents, as well as a more thorough living out of our faith lives. That this year is the 50th anniversary of Vatican II is all the more crucial that we get ourselves in to this awareness of our Catholic understanding on the way of our faith life in the Church and in the world.
For most of us, that the Church is more than its institution and building, is something that is incomprehensible and a far flung notion that doesn't have much prominent place in one's faith awareness and life. Fifty years ago, the Church has this to say, "The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well" (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 7 December, 1965, para. 1).
This was the Church's bold and decisive way of saying that it empathises with all of the world's joys and griefs and sees the need for reconciliation and healing. But it is a reconciliation and healing that does not come from or through the world directly: "Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men, of men, united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, press onwards towards the kingdom of the Father and are bearers of a message of salvation intended for all men. That is why Christians cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history" (emphasis mine).
This Year of Faith has a call that wants to get us out of our complacency and comfort zone to take a good look at what we have done to ourselves in keeping tabs on our lives as Catholic Christians today in the wake of all that is happening in our highly technical, information overload, materially consumed, and God-ly allergic world we live in: "In wonder at their own discoveris and their own might, men are today troubled and perplexed by questions about current trends in the world, about their place and their role in the universe, about the meaning of individual and collective endeavour and finally about the destiny of nature and men" ((Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 7 December, 1965, para. 3).
The Church's stand in this light goes on to say that the following which is unfolding today, making this document a highly prophetic and profound assessment of our world:
a. Ours is a new age of history with critical and swift upheavals spreading gradually to all corners of the earth. They are the products of man's intelligence and creative activity, but they recoil upon him, upon his judgments and desires, both individual and collective, upon his ways of thinking and acting in regard to people and things (para. 4).
b. Increase in power is not always accompanied by control of that power for the benefit of man (para. 4).
c. We have not yet seen the last of bitter political, social, and economic hostility, and racial and ideological antagonism, nor are we free from the spectre of a war of total destruction (para. 4).
d. A change in attitudes and structures frequently calls accepted values into question... In the past it was the exception to repudiate God and religion ... nowadays it seems a matter of course to reject them as incompatible with scientific progress and a new kind of humanism (para. 7).
A good practice to take up, during this Year of Faith, would be to go to this particular Church document and reflect deeply and honestly as to one's state of faith today and make those relevant and needed changes so that, with the Church, be able to dialogue to all "... in order to unfold the mystery that is man and cooperate in tackling the main problems facing the world today" (para 10).