A Personal Invitation to the Year of Faith

By: Soren Johnson

The Year of Faith opens today.

And to mark it, there’s part of me that would like to post an erudite and memorable reflection on any one of the extraordinary documents exploding out of the Vatican with this week’s opening of the Synod, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith”.

But I’d probably be missing the point.

Because today is about a personal invitation addressed to you and me. Today, Pope Benedict XVI is inviting us to enter “into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith”. He is summoning us “to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord” (Porta Fidei).

I want to take the Holy Father’s invitation at face value, I’m praying that I will mark this Year of Faith in a worthy manner. Today begins a journey that I hope to look back on and be able to point out to my children when they’re grown—that among the many times we experienced God’s grace as a family through the years, this year beckoned us to special moments of conversion and encounter with Christ; and that we didn’t toss the invitation to the side and turn down the graces that were being offered.

Simply put, I am praying that this “particular reflection and rediscovery” will lead me to renew my relationship with Jesus Christ, within the community of His Disciples, His Church.

On a practical level I have not made any grand resolutions. I have signed up to read the Catechism throughout the year in daily installments, and I’m looking for opportunities to crack open the documents of the Second Vatican Council and give them a fresh and long-overdue closer reading. I’ve signed up to receive Bishop Loverde’s weekly Year of Faith challenge. I’m looking forward to getting back to the basics of discipleship with Christ at an upcoming workshop on evangelization with author Sherry Weddell. I’m excited to see where the Holy Spirit will lead our diocese as parishes step into the Year of Faith in so many unique ways. Through the St. Therese Society, I’m weaving prayer for the great priests and seminarians of this diocese, Bishop Loverde, and our Holy Father, more intentionally into my daily prayer.

But I recognize that I’m quick to do things in a flurry of activity—and far slower at being a disciple of Jesus Christ. If I could spend today with Jesus I would probably find it easier to do tangible jobs for Him than to sit at His feet and reflect on His words. I’d probably rather try to win His love than acknowledge that there is nothing I can do to earn it, that His love for me is already unconditional.

So, this Year of Faith—of rediscovery—should be an uphill climb for me.

And when it comes to a close, I do not plan on making my descent. I know that the moments of authentic conversion—of turning toward Him—in the past have come with a price: the decision to step out of my comfort zone and encounter Jesus there.

What could rediscovery and conversion look like for us—individually, and as members of His Body, the Church—in the Year of Faith?

Today let’s draw near to Him and ask that question.

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