CENTRAL PLACE FOR CHRIST
The Year of Faith, completed on 24 November 2013, on the feast of Christ the King of Universe, was the second papal initiative in the history of the Catholic Church. The first Year of Faith was announced by pope Paul VI on the days from 29 June 1967 to 30 June 1968, to commemorate the 1900th anniversary of martyrdom of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul. The Year of Faith which we have experienced recently, was begun by Benedict XVI on 11 October 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the post-council Catechism of the Catholic Church, and was closed by pope Francis on 24 November 2013.
The first exposition of St. Peter’s relics in history
At the end of the Year of Faith the Holy Father made another surprise. For, witnesses of this ceremony were given a special gift. For the first time in history St. Peter’s relics had been exposed to the public cult. Believers could worship them during the Eucharist presided over by pope Francis on the Square of St. Peter in Rome.
The whole ceremony of completing the Year of Faith was proceeding under the sign of Syria, where a civil war has been taking place for over two years, and Philippines, touched by cataclysm caused recently by the hit of the deadly typhoon. The collection of money during the Holy Mass was intended for the victims of the typhoon. Pope Francis, greeting patriarchs and archbishops of Greater Catholic Churches in the East celebrating the Holy Mass with him, expressed his desire to bring the sign of peace which he exchanges with them to all the Christians living in the Holy Land, especially in Syria and in the whole Middle East and give them a gift of peace and agreement.
With Christ in thoughts, words and deeds
In the homily, pope Francis thanked the retired pope Benedict XVI for his announcing the Year of Faith. – Thoughts full of love and gratitude are running towards Him. Through his providential initiative, Benedict XVI gave us a possibility to discover again the beauty of the road of faith, begun on the day of our baptism and faith made us God’s children and brothers in the Church – he said. Towards believers from all over the world, the Holy Father Francis was reflecting on the significance of Christ’s presence in the centre of creation, God’s people and the history of humankind and every man separately. He emphasized that ‘if a believer wants to be so, he must recognize and accept the central place for Jesus Christ in his life, in his thoughts, words and deeds’. – Each of us has his own history – he explained. Each of us has also his mistakes, his sins, his bright and dark moments. He encouraged for personal saying the words in silence and in heart: ‘Jesus, remember me, because I want to become good, but I have not got any strength, I cannot, I am a sinner!’. Let’s ask Lord to remember about us, being sure that thanks to His grace we will be able to participate in his glory in Heaven. Let’s take this path! – called pope Francis.
Joy of the Gospel
At the end of the Holy Mass the Holy Father gave his apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii gaudium’ – ‘Joy of the Gospel’. It is a summary of the ordinary congregation of Bishops’ Synod about new evangelization which was held in Vatican in October 2012. The Pope gave the Exhortation to a bishop from Latvia, a priest from Tanzania, a deacon from Australia and representatives of the newly confirmands, seminarians, families, catechists, monks and nuns, youth, members of brotherhoods and religious movements. Also a blind woman led by her guide-dog received the Document in the form of audio from the Holy Father. Personally, Pope Francis gave the ’Evangelii gaudium’to representatives of journalists and artistic groups. A Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo also received the Exhortation, who converted himself under the influence of the art of a genius Antonio Gaudi – now Sotoo is continuing building the basilica SagradaFamilia in Barcelona, which Gaudi did not manage to finish. Also Anna Gulak, a Polish artist and a laureate of Papal Academies Rewards 2012 received the document from the Holy Father, and whose exhibitions devoted to John Paul II were presented in Vatican and Verona.
Through an open gate of faith
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the chairman of the Papal Council for Promoting New Evangelization stated in an interview for the Vatican Radio, that Benedict XVI, who had opened the Year of Faith, and pope Francis who had closed it, show with their lives how important it is to be in faith. – The testimony which Francis gives, pointing to the suitable lifestyle, will be deepened by reflection and action resulting from the apostolic Exhortation ‘Joy of the Gospel’ – he noted. According to him pope Francis not only tells us that we should cross the gate of faith, but we are also supposed to go out to meet other people. Archbishop Fisichella admitted that the strongest event of the Year of Faith for him was the Eucharistic Adoration, which united the whole Catholic world on knees, praying in the intention of peace.
The Year of Faith was supposed to contribute to enlivening of the Christian and ecclesiastical life , especially among the Catholics living in Western countries which are going away from God. It was supposed to give lost people a chance to return to the Church, and arouse a desire among believers to meet Christ and joyful expression of faith. Being rich in grace, time opened the gate of faith widely, so that we, being spiritually rich, could joyfully enter onto further paths of our life, joining in the missionary engagement in the program of new evangelization undertaken by the Church.