By Guest Blogger Deacon Santiago Molina
The Year of Grace has begun!
Today, October 11th Pope Benedict XVI inaugurates the “Year of Faith.”
50 years to the day from the opening of the Second Vatican Council and 20 from the publishing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “Year of Faith” is meant to remind all Catholics about these vital components of our spiritual life.
Throughout the year, Catholics will be encouraged to study the Scriptures and the Catechism as well as the documents from the Second Vatican Council with the purpose of learning, relearning, and renewing their Catholic Faith. In other words, Catholics will be encouraged to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him, for everything that the Church teaches and professes is done with the purpose of increasing our relationship with our Savior.
In today’s world our Faith is being challenged in several ways. Without a doubt, we can say that we are experiencing a “Crisis of Faith” and I can think of 3 factors that have had a direct effect in causing this:
In the first place, our society has become more and more secularized and the promotion of secular/non-religious values by our government and our media has made it easier for the members of our society to rule their moral lives by the practicality and/or democratic view of things. At the same time it has become more difficult to rule our moral lives by Catholic principles that “appear” to be non-practical and even seemingly “impossible” to follow.
Secondly, our Catholic faith continues to be challenged by other religions and even other Christian traditions. Misconceptions and misrepresentations of our Faith are both innocently and purposely presented as errors in Church teachings; so much so that even Catholics sometimes leave the Church because they are not well informed.
Thirdly, and closely related to the challenge above, is the problem with Catholic Formation. Whether it has been due to lack of resources or to the infiltration of both liberal and ultra-conservative elements within the Church, many have been ill-prepared and when questioned or confronted with a challenging teaching (i.e.: the teaching on Contraception, or the teaching on whether the Tridentine Mass is the ONLY valid Mass) they don’t know what to do, or worse, they feel betrayed and leave the Church altogether.
A Reason for Our Faith
Though there are many other factors that have influenced the current state of affairs, perhaps too numerous to list here yet, these three are, in my humble opinion, the most influential. Regardless of the exact causes of our present crisis, knowing what the Church teaches and why she teaches it has become more important than ever. Being able to both answer questions AND witness to our Faith is imperative if we are going to be able to continue to pass on the Faith to our children and grandchildren.
We need to be able to “apologize” for our Faith. Yes, “apologize.” However, it is not the “apologizing” that we are used to doing when we are expressing sorrow without a defense. It is “apologizing” in its original sense — a reasoned account for our belief and practice. Apologetics is the art of “defending one’s beliefs” (in Greek “ἀπολογία” = to speak in defense of), of knowing, and being able to articulate the what and why of our Faith. But this knowledge is not to be had with the purpose of using our knowledge to “best” someone in debate, but to be able to persuasively share the Truth of our Faith.
This Year of Faith, let us commit ourselves to learn more about what we believe and why. Let us commit to study the Scriptures, the Catechism, the documents of the Second Vatican Council and more so that we might strengthen our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.