Right now, I'm sort of on a self-imposed retreat from the world, I need to make sure I'm as strong as possible spiritually and all too often the interwebs just bugs the life out of me and leaves me far from charitable. It is amazing what "friends" do present themselves to you when you need guidance. Friends that put joy into your heart from beyond the grave. For me in particular I am so grateful for the appearance of (though their writings..I'm not prone to visions) Fr FW Faber CO and Fr Gerald Vann OP. More about their writings in another post, possibly.
One thought has struck me and I will share it with you. I'm not getting this Year of Faith. I've really warmed to all the previous "Year of" enterprises from the Holy See, but this one seems a bit flat to me.
Mull, if you will, on the definition of Faith in Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.
From that definition, a Year of Faith and Hope would seem to be a fertile ground, as they are inseparable.
Now mull, if you will on this quote from Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene's Divine Intimacy.
Our intellect can give us only natural light on God and creatures; faith, on the contrary, gives us the supernatural light that is a participation in the light of God, in the knowledge God has of Himself and of creatures.So faith is ineffable and unreachable by the intellect alone. So perhaps all the teaching materials in the Catholic world and all the "trimmings" added to the Creed at Sunday Mass really don't amount to anything if they are reached by the intellect alone. How then to we acquire faith?
Firstly, I'd say that Truth is irresistible. Even, sinner as he was, Herod, found the teaching of St John the Baptist irresistible. It is Grace that is resistible, if our own selfish desires get the better of us, and that was Herod's downfall and the Baptist's end. Therefore this year should be about us living that Truth that has been revealed to us; preaching without words mainly, being irresistible to others in our steadfastness to the Truth. It is all there in the Church, you won't find it anywhere else, folks! We all have in our possession some nugget of the Truth that we should water and feed in our relationship with God and which will grow, if we let it.
Secondly, to be inspired by our Faith, in order to reflect it and achieve this irresistability in our lives we need to see the Beauty of our Faith. Only when we see real beauty can we reflect it back into the world. We need beautiful liturgy. We need to engage more with the beauty of scripture, especially (IMHO) the Psalms (little else so marvellously speaks of our own state as creatures and our reliance on God and our praise of Him). We need to mortify ourselves so as not to be taken in by transitory worldly beauty. We need to be exposed to the great spiritual works of art; the music, the devotional writings, the pictures and icons, the great churches. We can then teach others how to appreciate these too and slowly draw them into the faith.
So, then, that is what the Year of Faith seems to be about to me and in many ways it is not something that can be taught or directed from Rome, it needs to be something organic and it needs to start with us and a cleansing of our hearts and an opening up of ourselves to the beauty of our Faith by closing our senses down to the false delights the world has to offer.