Sunday, 7 October 2012

What to do for the Year of Faith?

The Australian 'Year of Grace' is, apparently characterized not by events or content, but rather represents a time for reflection or contemplation: as such, it arguably represents that content-free approach to catechesis that has dominated over the last fifty years.

The upcoming Vatican instituted Year of Faith, which starts on October 11, by contrast, emphasizes actual doing and actual content.

Plenary Indulgences

Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has now authorized a number of plenary indulgences available for the Year of Faith.  They are basically available for:
  • hearing three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location;
  • each time you visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints;
  • each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, ... in any sacred place, you participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form;
  • on any day during the Year of Faith, make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which you received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew  baptismal promises in any legitimate form.
Upcoming opportunities to obtain those indulgences!

The first and last of those indulgences, from hearing three sermons in the course of a mission, will obviously depend on your bishop and/or getting something specifically organized in your area.  The upcoming Christus Rex pilgrimage though, potentially provides an opportunity to pick up a couple of those Indulgences for visiting a Cathedral on pilgrimage and prayin therein!

And as for that visit to the Church you were baptised in, what a great idea!  I'm going to have to make a little pilgimage of my own, and revisit St Joseph's in Hobart!

Other things you could consider...

A few blogs have been offering suggestions on what to do for the Year of Faith by way of personal devotion and commitment, so over the next few days, I'm going to explore a few ideas, along with some notes on what I'm planning to include on the blog, that reflects these.   Here is the short version.

1.  Learn (a little bit of) Latin/memorizing key prayers

The Council – as well as every Pope from John XXIII onwards - actually affirmed the importance of Latin in the Church. Indeed, the Vatican is doing its own little bit to emphasize this by only providing the document setting out the details for the indulgences available for the Year of Faith in Latin and Italian (!).

One good starting point might be to learn how to say the 'common prayers' set out in English and Latin the back of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so I’ll try and highlight one of these (along with selected other key texts you should know) each week.  Many of them have accompanying chants associated with them, so a little singing will be in order too...

2. (Re)read the Catechism

OK, actually I've read the thing many many times now, starting off in French when it first came out in that language (our chaplain at the time gave a series of seminars on it working from the French).  Back then it seemed like a great advance on Catechisms then available, such as the Dutch Catechism, with its list of Vatican ordered corrections at the back.  Having had to reread it several times more recently though, in the course of my theologies studies, I found it often long winded, somewhat turgid, and fluffy, particularly when dealing with the issues that are creating confusion today. 

So I actually think the Compendium of the Catechism is a much better place to start. Its question and answer format is clear, and it provides link backs to the full text if you want to know more.  It has 598 questions, so to get through it in a year, you need to read 11.5 a week...  Or you could, as I plan to do, tackle one part (the four parts cover the Creed, Sacraments, Commandments and Prayer) per quarter.

3.  Read the Bible

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ, according to St Jerome, so this year is a good chance to remedy that! 

There is a great Bible in a Year schema that was published on New Liturgical Movement a few years back that more or less mirrors the order of the liturgical seasons set by Matins in the Divine Office.  While reading the whole Bible in a year might be a little over-ambitious, you could certainly aim to read selected key chapters.  So I plan to revive my series of notes on each book of the Bible, and publish them at intervals that reflect the 'Plan 1' version of the schema.

The schema doesn't cover the Gospels or the psalms though.  So plan on reading one of the Gospels each quarter, and an average of three psalms a week (assuming you don't say them as part of the Divine Office...) if you are aiming to read all of Scripture in a year.

4.  Pray for the conversion of souls.

The Year of Faith begins, in effect, with the Synod on the New Evangelization. 

For many if not most of us, the need for a evangalization is very real: surely most of us these days have family or friends who have lapsed from the faith, or who, though baptised, in practice were never taught to practice it?  Surely many of us have protestant, non-Christian friends, or even atheists amongst our family and workmates.

We should fear for the fate of their souls, and take St Monica as our model in praying for their conversion, and perhaps add an appropriate psalm or two to our daily prayer routine to that end.

5.  Read the documents of Vatican II

The Year starts on the fiftieth anniversary of the Council.  It is time to revisit and take stock of the sixteen documents of the Council.  Some have already fallen into oblivion - is this status deserved?  Others have a much higher profile - but has the time in fact come to move on from them!

More tomorrow...

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