Planting the Seed
(From the November 15, 2013 Catholic Calendar)
In his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the “Year of Faith.” The beginning of the Year of Faith was to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 12, 1962, a defining moment in the history of the Church in the Twentieth Century. Pope Benedict in Porta Fidei mentioned another lesser known anniversary. On October 11, 1992, Blessed John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Therefore, Porta Fidei reflected back on a period initiating renewal in the Church and thrust us forward into a re-engagement of the faith. What was the purpose for the “Year of Faith”?
As we read the document, we are struck with two motives for its observance. The Holy Father was inviting us to engage the faith by 1) renewing its expression and 2) knowing the content of that faith. Basically the “Year of Faith” was an invitation. God was inviting us to open the “door of faith,” to respond to the invitation, to enter the room, to come to the banquet of faith.
Accepting an invitation requires something from us. We must respond. We must let the host know whether or not we are coming. And once we arrive, still more is required. I am thinking of those cultures where one removes shoes before entering the house or, as in our own area, guests bring a gift for the hosts.
Pope Benedict in Porta Fidei said that the “Year of Faith” was to be a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world” (#6). Let us repeat that. The “Year of Faith” is a “summons” to “conversion.” There is nothing static about it, where we sit back with self-satisfaction and say how wonderful everything is. In words taken from Porta Fidei, “[w]e cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Matthew 5:13-16)” (#3). How might we allow this to happen?
I have reflected much on this question during the “Year of Faith.” As a bishop—or cleric or lay person—no one is exempt—I am less than what I am called to be when I neglect my duties, one of which is to speak the truth “in and out of season.” I might hide the light by not practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy, for example by not admonishing the sinner or leaving the ignorant to languish in their unknowing. I might allow my salt to become tasteless by not practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy, for example by not welcoming the stranger or not giving food to the hungry. “We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden.” Those are challenging words—and we all need to be challenged.
In the “Year of Faith” we should have taken the opportunity to accept the invitation and to deepen our faith by attending the banquet God prepares for us.
Speaking of banquets, we will conclude the “Year of Faith” by celebrating with a Eucharistic Procession on Christ the King Sunday, November 24. I thought of this because our Faith is indeed a banquet, epitomized in the Eucharist itself. We will begin at 1 p.m., gathering in the Commons of St. Louis Catholic High School for Exposition and Adoration. Then, at 2 p.m. we will begin our Procession through the streets of Lake Charles to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Finally, at 3 p.m. we arrive at the Cathedral and celebrate a Holy Hour, with a presentation by the well-known author and evangelist, Father Mitch Pacwa, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to conclude the prayerful event.
During the concluding Holy Hour at the Cathedral, I will invite all of us to pray a Prayer of Consecration. This act of consecration will entrust the Diocese of Lake Charles, with all its needs and gifts, to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Christ. The idea for entrusting our diocese to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Christ came to me in prayer during the “Year of Faith.” If the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our Catholic lives and worship and the Eucharist gives us an intimate share in the Person of Jesus Christ, then what better way for us to conclude the “Year of Faith” than by entrusting ourselves, our families and our needs, to the loving Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Christ.
Join us November 24, Christ the King Sunday!
Planting the Seed