The Year of Faith

         Today, with The Holy Shepherd as our guide, we begin as a Church the Year of Faith. It begins on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by Blessed John Paul II. As I prepare to start out this year of Faith I can’t help but think of the example of two very holy women…
         St. Therese, the little flower, whose feast day we celebrated last week is a constant reminder of faith. She expressed her “little way” with great love and since has spread that way in a quiet boldness throughout this world and I’m sure onto the next. Her great faith was very hidden and holy, relying only on Jesus and with great humility drew close to his merciful Heart. She came to Jesus as a little child with great faith, just as He asked us all to come to him.

 

But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. -Luke 18:16-17

 

 

Our Blessed Mother is the ultimate example of faith with her holy “fiat” or yes. As women of Christ we too can say yes! Whether it be large or small, Jesus cares only for the position of our heart, not of the greatness or success of the outcome. We can say yes in our everyday life, be it serving our families or friends openly, or in the quiet of our sufferings, if we offer it all with great love and faith we too can be an example like Mary. Pope Benedict explains its so beautifully here:

By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Lk 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Mt 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4).

I invite us all in this Year of Faith to strive for a greater sense of faith and holiness. Pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read the treasure within. Take time to read and meditate upon the Gospels. Attend The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Adoration when possible. Recite the Creed often and let it always be silently on our lips. God will faithfully do His part if we only do ours. With these amazing resources and unfailing faith we can transform the culture and show that real women, relying solely on Christ, can set the world ablaze!

 

Building Culture

We are dead.

As a culture, a society, we are dead.”There is something worse than being deprived of life, it is being deprived of life and not knowing it.” – Walker Percy. We are ostensibly free individuals who allow certain people and powers to manipulate and control our lives through money, markets, media and technology. Ironically, our “culture” is held up as the ideal in the world. Yet, we are slaves. We are slaves but we do not even know we are slaves because we chose to be slaves. We are driven by our passions & appetites to “Whatever feels good.”

There is something else.

There is something greater.

A true culture, although not perfect, did exist. A culture where there was community, celebration, fasting, praying, leisure and work. A community where life, relationships and creation was truly valued and ordered properly. It’s known as Christendom. However, the Christendom that we know today, in most places is hardly a reflection of true Christian culture. Why? Today we are “Christians” yet live our lives in the same manner as the secular world – and we tack on mass – as another errand, or to-do during the week. Grocery store, gym, mass… We celebrate the same secular, politically correct holidays, eat the same high processed “food”, work 50-60hrs a week and when we have time spend time with the family and maybe a say prayer over dinner.

We are in desperate need to redefine culture. The term ‘culture’ comes from the Latin word cultus meaning religion.  Culture is in fact nothing more then the way a religion interacts with a people and their environment. Thus we need to Transform Culture – or rather to reclaim true culture. What we think culture is today – is not culture.

How is this done?

Liturgy.

Liturgy can order our culture. It teaches us to see beyond the surface, to see the deeper meaning in the material world. Its seasons, feast days and fasts – order time and space. It teaches us how to approach God. It teaches us virtue, how to live properly ordered lives – not enslaved to our passions. It fosters true community – not based on emotional entertainment or “what I can get from this”.

Liturgy, when celebrated correctly, transforms humanity and creates Culture. Ordered, life-giving and joyful.