Last Thursday, October 11, was the start of the Roman Catholic Year of Faith, which will last until November 24, 2013. (That’s a bit longer than an actual year, and I will explain why…) Pope Benedict XVI implemented the Year of Faith so every Christian can renew his or her faith in what he or she believes. Fifty years ago, on October 11, the Second Vatican Council opened, and twenty years ago, on October 11, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was formally declared as the authoritative compendium of Catholic faith. The Year of Faith ends on November 24, which will be the Solemnity of Christ the King, which is a holy day of devotion to Jesus, and the last Sunday of the church year.
Obviously, our world is quite different from the way it was when Vatican II took place. Although I don’t agree with all of the changes made to the church and its traditions during Vatican II, I do believe the majority of the changes were necessary, and that they strengthened the Catholic faith and brought it to many more generations. I don’t know if there will ever be a Third Vatican Council, but with the dramatic changes happening in the world, there may need to be another council in a few decades, if only to reestablish a few things.
It seems to me that the Year of Faith may help us as Catholics to reestablish ourselves in the faith, reconnect with our Christian roots and our Catholic traditions and beliefs, and to practice our faith with renewed enthusiasm; enthusiasm that we have perhaps begun to lose. The materialistic world definitely has a way of demanding our attention, and after a long time in the world, we begin to neglect our spiritual side.
I made this post because today is my spiritual birthday; I was baptized as a six-month-old baby on October 16, so I have now been a Christian for over 20 years. Though I had no choice over the matter of my baptism, I do not believe I was “forced” into my faith. One of my foremost beliefs as a Christian is that God gave us all free will; we are called to spread the faith, to pass it on to others, and to nurture and grow our own faith. However, are not called to “force” others to the faith; it is their choice to turn to God, and if they do not want to, they do not have to and should not be forced to. As Christians, we should encourage others to the faith, but if they refuse, we should respect that they have made their decision. God does not force us to turn to him; he gives us the choice. If I wanted to, I could have chosen to stop being a Christian. I could have left the Catholic Church, and nobody would have forced me back. I could have renounced my faith a long time ago, but I did not because it gives me something to fight for and to hold onto in a world that is choked with materialism, sex, anguish, war, etc.
For this Year of Faith, I am going to pray the rosary once a week and I am going to read a little bit of the catechism every day. I’ve already been to confession, so I suppose I’m on my way. Just a little bit. Step by step. 🙂