The Year of Faith has begun.
As with Pope Benedict, John Paul II spoke often of the necessity of an ongoing journey of faith: “It is true that being a Christian means saying ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, but let us remember that this ‘yes’ has two levels: It consists in surrendering to the Word of God and relying on it in the initial act of faith. But it also means, at a later stage, endeavouring to know better and better the profound meaning of the faith received.”
He emphasised that this access to deeper faith is a right. “Every baptised person, precisely by reason of being baptised, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life.”
Few would doubt that this catechesis (Greek for teaching), this adult faith formation is a deperate need.
Thomas H. Groome, in his book Will There be Faith?, writes of a teaching dynamic that leads people from life to Faith to life. It is an approach to adult catechesis that goes far beyond merely passively receiving information. He speaks of a way that can inform, form, and transform.
Inform – educate people to know, understand and embrace with personal conviction Christianity’s core beliefs and values.
Form – deepen people’s sense of Catholic identity through active engagement in and experience of a Christian community of prayer and service.
Transform – open people to a life-long journey to conversion toward holiness and fullness of life for themselves and “for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
It is a call to a faith that entails knowledge, relationship and commitment. Groome writes of the faith being embodied in a discipleship of “the head, the heart and the hands”.
St Francis asked the Lord to “enlighten the darkness of my heart, grant me right faith…”
In this time of grace may we be open to a deepening of the gift of faith, a faith that embraces all of life.
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