Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Year of Faith was announced on 17 October last year by Pope Benedict XVI as a way of giving momentum to a new form of evangelisation, and is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, by inviting Catholics to rediscover the gift of faith and to seek new ways of proclaiming it.
The year will begin on 11 October 2012 – to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council – and conclude on 24 November 2013, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.
The start date of 11 October 2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It coincides too with a gathering of bishops in Rome for a synod themed The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.
At the universal level, the Pope will engage in various events, including the solemn opening of the Year of Faith and World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil. There will also be various ecumenical initiatives during the Week of Christian Unity, including a solemn ecumenical celebration in which all of the baptised will reaffirm their faith in Christ.
At the local level, we are having the theme, Who Is This That Even The Wind And The Sea Obey Him? that invites each Christian to reflect on the identity of Christ for himself or herself.
By rediscovering Christ and renewing our enthusiasm for Him, we will not only aspire to profess our faith more fully and with renewed conviction, confidence and hope, but also renew our prayer life, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist.
Founded on a personal encounter with Christ, faith is a deep, intimate communion with Jesus. In the words of St Paul, “I know Him in whom I have believed” (2 Tm 1:12). Faith makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us.
It is this renewed conversion and rediscovery that empowers us to lead others to Christ. Acting as joy-filled witnesses of Christ, we can take up with conviction a “New Evangelisation” – sharing our faith and touching the lives of others. It is this faith also that will serve us well in the face of increasing secularism.
During the Year of Faith, I ask Catholics to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II as well as to gain more familiarity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This deepens our knowledge of the faith, and enables us to strengthen other Catholics who attend church, reach out to those who have left but still yearn for God in their lives, and offer a response to those who are searching for meaning but who think they do not need God.
Let this Year of Faith be a time for you to strengthen your own relationship with Jesus – and remember that faith is not an ideology but a personal encounter with the Risen Lord.
Here in Singapore, we will celebrate this year with an emphasis on rediscovering who Christ is for us.
From the celebration of Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCC) Day to the Archdiocesan Youth Day, and in every event of our calendar, let them lead the faithful to joyous rediscovery of Christ upon which the Church of God is unified and consolidated.
In local parishes, I would like to see a better participation in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, since in it the mystery of faith and source of the New Evangelisation, the faith of the Church is proclaimed, celebrated and strengthened.
I invite parishes to reconsider their own state of community; and to take their inner-life more seriously, to practise charity, forgiveness, mercy, and peacemaking firstly among themselves, so as to witness the goodness of the Christian community to others.
Rediscovering who Jesus is for us as a parish would be an essential first step in the new evangelisation.
I also invite all Catholics to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation more regularly during the Year. The Sacrament restores and heals us, giving us the strength to begin again.
Conversion is an ongoing process when we freely choose to respond to an encounter with Christ’s love and mercy. The Year of Faith is an opportunity to embrace and respond to the call to conversion to our Lord ever more generously.
May our Mother Mary – Virgin most faithful – pray for us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the faith necessary for us to wholeheartedly take up the Holy Father’s invitation to fully live this Year as a special time of grace and share with others that which is dearest to us – Christ Jesus, who “leads our faith to perfection” (Hb 12: 2). n
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Nicholas Chia