The welcome mat is out, the door is open, and the host is ready to receive us. This coming year, we have all been extended a special invitation to walk through the door of faith and to bring others along with us.
As I noted in my last article, the heart of evangelization is hospitality--an interior disposition that allows us to welcome others in the name of the Lord Jesus precisely because we recognize him in every person we meet. From my perspective, that is one reason why Pope Benedict XVI has invited all Catholics to participate in the Year of Faith, which began on October 11, 2012 and will conclude on November 24, 2013. The pope says, " The 'door of faith' is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church" (Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, n. 1).
The Holy Father’s foremost hope is that every person meet anew and be renewed by the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict assures that that when we have a personal encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord, it will lead "to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord" (n. 6). I sometimes wonder whether the Lord's call to conversion with its commitment to change isn't a scary thought for many if not most of us. Is that why we hesitate to cross the threshold of the door of faith? Perhaps?
In some ways, my personal journey of faith constantly reminds me that the hard work of conversion is ongoing, demanding, and never complete. It continually challenges me to learn more, but even more importantly, to become holier, that is, ever more Christ-like. I suspect that my experience is not much different from any other Christian: the process has been, and continues to be, slow yet steady and sure!
Growing in faith is an equally grace-filled, hopeful and always rewarding experience because it has been shared with so many other people-- family and friends, clergy and religious. In particular, my priestly ministry among the people of God has brought me into contact with laypersons whose words and actions, grace and goodness, piety and prayer, service and sacrifice have revealed the Lord to me.
As deeply personal as our relationship with the Lord can be, the life of faith is not a private endeavor. Faith calls us out of and beyond ourselves, demanding that we profess it, celebrate it, and witness to it (n. 9) among our neighbors. Personal experience tell us that the human person cannot live in isolation, because "it is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). The Lord, in his mercy, has seen to it that no one of us ever walks alone. Not only does the Lord accompany us throughout our earthly life and along our journey of faith, he also ensures that other disciples provide us example, inspiration and encouragement. You and I benefit from the support, strength and solidarity of others.
Yet that is only one side of the coin. You and I also have a responsibility to share our faith in both work and action with our brothers and sisters. Used appropriately, our faith should be the primary way by which we relate to one another and the world around us: in matters of daily habit, such as offering grace at meals whether we are at home or in a restaurant ... in matters of social justice, such as working to eliminate the evils of poverty, war and oppression ... in matters of eternal truth, such as upholding the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death, defending marriage as it originated in the order of creation, and protecting all genuine human freedoms including religious liberty.
The Year of Faith is a call for Catholics to be renewed through study, prayer and action. If we are courageous enough to walk through the door of faith, God will help us to proclaim his Word, to worship in Spirit and truth, and to evangelize those we will meet along the journey.
The invitation has been sent. It’s up to each one of us to decide whether to accept it.
- Rev. Msgr. Andrew Dubois, Moderator of the Curia