The Year of Faith will conclude this Sunday, the Solemnity of Christ the King, but our desire to seek the face of Jesus must continue. It may take time for us to see fully how the intended effects of the Year, evoked by Pope Benedict XVI, were achieved. Nevertheless, the Year of Faith has produced some fairly remarkable events around the Church and, specifically, around the Diocese of La Crosse.
We began the Year of Faith in October 2012, which coincided with the Fiftieth Anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II. The documents of the Council were called directly into focus with specific attention being given to the archetypical Constitutions: “Lumen Gentium” and “Gaudium et Spes.” These two documents in particular show “who the Church is” and “what the Church does” in the modern world. These two Council documents were mandatory reading during the Year of Faith—of course, if you missed them during the Year, they are still worth your time and effort.
Secondly, the Pope stressed the beauty of the teachings of our faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which celebrated its twentieth anniversary during the Year of Faith. No Catholic home should be without these two volumes: The Holy Bible (which should be read frequently, and, if possible, openly at family gatherings), and the Catechism. I have known many Catholics who put together games—such as “Catholic Trivia”—based on facts found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is still a unique way to teach about and discuss the basics of our Faith.
In our Diocese our focus was “Seeking the Face of Jesus.” The fundamental sense of knowing Jesus was based on us being aware that He is the human face of God and the deeper our union with Him, the greater our love; the greater our love for Him, the stronger our willingness to witness—to tell others about Him. This is basic “evangelization.” One of the tools we adopted for this work was the tool our Blessed Lord chose for Himself: the cross.
Simple wooden crosses made by a dear friend and benefactor of our Diocese, were distributed to each of our parishes and all of our apostolates. I am happy to say that those crosses made their way throughout homes and institutions all over the nineteen counties of western and north central Wisconsin—the Diocese of La Crosse.
So, now what? Well folks, we have spent time getting to know Jesus and His Church; maybe now it’s time for us to get up and get out and tell the Good News to others. You will be hearing more about the “mission” that Jesus has given to the Church—to us—over the coming months. The blueprint for our work will be found in Blessed John Paul’s 1990 encyclical: “Redemptoris Missio” or “The Mission of Christ the Redeemer.” Here the saintly pope speaks on the “permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate.” It is a fitting way for us to reflect on the lessons of the Year of Faith and implement the methods of what recent popes have called the ”new evangelization.” I think you will find this unfolding of faith in action a beautiful way of loving Christ in your heart and serving Him in the world around you.
Come to Mass this Sunday and proclaim Christ the King—then, let’s get to work about His mission and His Church!
Viva Cristo Rey!