A new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, as the Year of Faith closes

“Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei)

The Year of Faith draws to a close this Sunday, 24 November 2013, the feast of Christ the King, and Pope Francis will celebrate in St. Peter’s Square.  St. Peter’s relics will be displayed for the first time, the Creed will be recited, and Pope Francis will deliver his new Apostolic Exhortation Evagelii Gaudium (Vatican Insider). This document will be available in print through the CTS very soon so please continue to check in with the CTS on its status.

On the Feast of Christ the King we celebrate with St. Paul that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:15, 17).  Christ is head of the Church and King of our hearts.  This past year has been an invitation to “radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us” (Porta Fidei).  Have we done this? Have we deepened our knowledge of faith as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asked of us?

In his document proclaiming the Year of Faith he said,

Porta Fidei

“During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment.  The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfillment in the mystery of this Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection.”

Pope Benedict called for the Year of Faith on 11 October 2012 because it was the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CTS offers a Compendium).  Blessed John Paul II said of the Council documents: they “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance.  They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition.”[pullquote]Hermeneutics is the branch of theology which deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis…the correct hermeneutical approach is essential to a proper understanding of the truth the Holy Spirit wishes to convey in any given Scriptural passage or, indeed, in the Bible as a whole. (CatholicCulture.org)[/pullquote]

As can be understood by reading this post and this post, there are two interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.  Pope Benedict said after his election, “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”  After Pope Francis’ praise of Archbishop Agostino Marchetto’s hermeneutical interpretations of the documents of the Council, it is evident that Popes Benedict and Francis are in agreement.  Archbishop wrote:  “we reiterate that [the Council] is, for us, a great event, not a rupture, a revolution, the creation almost of a new Church, the rejection of the great Council of Trent and Vatican Council I, or of any previous ecumenical Council. There was certainly a change of direction, but to use a traffic metaphor, this was not a ‘U-turn.’”  In light of this, we can be confident as we study Council documents that they offer direction for the future.

Vatican II Bundle

A major fruit of the Second Vatican Council was the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Pope Benedict says that “in its very structure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church follows the development of the faith right up to the great themes of daily life.  On page after page, we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a Person who lives within the Church” (Porta Fidei).

To mark the close of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis wanted a “nice document that can help us” and so has prepared this new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, to be delivered this Sunday (Vatican Insider).  (Remember it will be available in print through the CTS on 2 December.)  “In his Exhortation, the Pope entrusts every baptised Catholic with the mission of becoming an evangeliser” (VI).  He wrote it “on evangelisation in general and including things from the” Extraordinary meeting of the Synod of Bishops (VI).

While the Year of Faith is near its end, the invitation to live our faith in the spirit of the New Evangelisation is ever present.  We can devote more time to studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council and enrich our knowledge of Church teaching by reading the Catechism.  We can join our Holy Father in his celebrations this Sunday.  We can devote more time to prayer with Sacred Scripture.  We can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and open our hearts to receive his Truth.  God will bless even our smallest efforts and will bear great fruit through us.

Teresa Seale

CTS Marketing Intern

UPDATE(Mon, 25 Nov 2013):

Pope Francis new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, will be promulgated on Tuesday, 26 November, 2013.  It will be available in print through the CTS for pre-order.  You can find out more about Pope Francis’ publications by reading this article from the Catholic News Service.

Of related interest:

Lumen Fidei Lumen Fidei –Lumen Fidei, the first Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis comes at the end of the Year of Faith which has been a great moment of reflection for all Catholics on what it is that we believe.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – A true summary of the teachings contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) and an authoritative and authentic guide to the Catholic faith
The New Evangelisation The New Evangelisation – Questions explored in this booklet: Why do we need a New Evangelisation? What is the history and theology of this idea? What does it look like in practice? How can we engage in the New Evangelisation in our parishes and communities? What are the key documents we can turn to for inspiration?

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