And so it begins: The Year of Faith

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may have been subjected to my blant (Blog rant, just made it up. ) back in February called Your Mom, and Other Religious Ramblings.  Don’t worry, I won’t do that again.  At least not today.

If you read it, you know what I mean about blant.  If you didn’t read it, go ahead and do so now.

Aaaannnd if you are stubborn/busy/skimming and didn’t follow the instructions immediately above, I will give a brief synopsis:

Catholics today may think they know Church teaching and the Scriptures (and I’d add in Church history as well) but the truth is most people don’t.

(See?  No blant.)

It appears Pope Benedict XVI had the same opinion.  Of course, he is much too dignified for ranting in a blog or any other medium of communication.  Rather, he decided to do something about this.  (I’m glad he’s the pope instead of me.  Infinitely more classy.)

And so it begins:

October 11, 2012- November 24, 2013

 …the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with Him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and His Church.- USCCB

(Update and edit: The rest of my post is dedicated to the “how” of the Year of Faith.  If you want a thoughtful (and hilarious) list of reasons why Catholics and non-Catholics alike should read the Catechism, check out Cari’s post.  )

There are many ways that Catholics can renew their relationship with Christ.  Here are some 

(Hopefully) Helpful Suggestions:

Connect with your local parish.

This is a worldwide Catholic celebration.  Most (all?) parishes will have some activity or classes, and many parishes will offer an array of Bible studies, women’s and men’s groups, classes, etc.  Every single parish will have regular masses and reconciliation.  God gave us the gift of these Sacraments to help us live healthier and happier lives.  Accept them!

Resources for getting connected with your parish:

Find your parish mass times, Reconciliation services, or parish bulletin online using either ParishesOnline or Mass Times. Check to see if your parish has a Facebook page or a website that you can consult regularly.  Get on email lists, too.


Do your reading in small chunks on the computer or your smartphone.

Can you take 20 minutes of time that you might normally be spending on Facebook or email, and instead commit it to your relationship with God?  I bet you can.  I’m going to try, and I’d love it if you would join me.

Resources for learning about your Catholic faith:

Think you can’t handle reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Try signing up for this free service: Read the Catechism in a Year.  You will be emailed a section of the Catechism daily, in small, manageable chunks.  If you’d prefer to read it at your leisure, you can read it online for free, or you can buy any number of bound or e-books.  I recently downloaded The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism to my Kindle for iPad. 

And check out this incredible labor of love: Read the Catholic Bible in a Year. It’s a blog that has the daily readings for each and every day.  Just begin with Week 1 and move on from there.


Watch a Movie.

Not much of a reader? Never fear, there’s something for you, too!


Fr. Robert Barron has made a professional and visually stunning DVD series called Catholicism. Seriously, go to the website.  The trailer alone is enough to get you excited about the series. You can order it for yourself, although it’s a bit pricey.  I would suggest talking to your parish to see if they a) have one on hand, or b) can order one that parishioners can borrow.  Our parish has a copy, plus a study guide, so we will be doing a parish-wide study of the series this year, led by yours truly.  Yes, I’m excited about this!

Resources for Catholicism:

Check out Fr. Barron’s blog, Word on Fire, as well as the Catholicism link above.


Get involved.

It’s easy to blend into the background on Sunday. It’s easy to say you can’t go to Bible study because you don’t have a babysitter, or you can’t make mass because it conflicts with the kids naps.  Or that your kids are too unruly to even attempt mass/Bible study at all. (Trust me, I’ve been there. Oh, wait.  I still am.)  

But the fact is, we are much more willing to go anywhere we feel a sense of community. If you get involved in something, anything, outside of regular mass time on Sunday, it will help you get to know your fellow parishioners, your priest, and your community.  And it will help you get to mass more often, too.

An added benefit to this is that, once you are involved, you will be physically present more, and able to offer your opinion about things that will help you (and others in similar states of life as you) be more involved.  For example, you can request that a Bible study be held at time more readily accessible to families with young kids, or that babysitting is offered so that parents can attend together.

Resources for getting involved:

First, take a self-inventory.  What are your strengths?  What are your family demands?  Then, check your parish bulletin or call your parish office to find out which groups meet when, and get contact information.  If the first group doesn’t work out, try another one.  If nothing seems to work, offer to plan something.  It can be as simple as a monthly playgroup at a local park, or a meal service for new moms.  Use your talents!

Pray without ceasing.

Make prayer a part of your moment-to-moment life.  Learn the prayers of our faith, and make up your own.  Offer up your difficulties to God, and ask him to give you grace at every turn.  Use the four forms of prayer with regularity:
  1. Blessing and Adoration (praising God)
  2. Prayer of Petition (asking for what we need, including forgiveness)
  3. Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need)
  4. Prayer of Thanksgiving (for what God has given and done) –Boston Catholic 
 Resources for a better prayer life:

Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray once each day.  Whether it is first thing in the morning, before a meal, on your lunch break, or at bedtime, make the commitment and do it.  There are many apps available, including free ones, that will have the prayers of the faith readily available.


This is by no means a complete list. What suggestions do you have?  Please leave them in the comments section.

And just for fun/reference:

Photo Credit
For my loyal followers:

Post-script: I have not forgotten Gianna’s birthday post.  I have been so busy enjoying her birthday that I haven’t had time to write anything about it.  I will get to it soon.  In the meantime, just know she is funny, sassy, smart, and suuuuuuuuper tall.

————————————————————————————————

Comments

  1. Thank you for the suggestions! I want to make sure that I actually do something this whole year in regards to the faith. Which is 100 times more difficult than deciding what to do for Lent.

    • Laura, thank you for putting that into words. I feel exactly the same way.

      Maybe if you have a friend or family member who can be your prayer/study buddy? It helps to have someone to challenge and encourage you. I think I am going to take my own advice. 🙂

  2. I love this post! Another idea might be praying the daily prayers of the universal Church from the Divine Office http://divineoffice.org/ I did this a little bit for Lent (just one time per day; pick the best time for you) and it was a very beautiful way to spend that time with God. I love to think of joining monks and nuns and ordinary people all over the world in praying the Psalms, as they have done for hundreds (thousands?) of years.

    • Aw, thanks, Lynn! And I love you!

      I love the idea of praying the Divine Office. My hubby and I did it for awhile but it fell by the wayside. Maybe something to look into this year.

  3. I am really excited about reading the Catechism this year. I have read chunks of it here and there, but I haven’t read everything. I was rather wondering how I was going to stick to it and make it happen, and I am so happy that Flocknote is doing the email thing. That is going to be so helpful! (I am so a Catholic nerd, can you tell?)

    And boy, it sure is hard to figure out how to get involved in a parish that is largely populated by retirees. They LOVE to see the kids there and I always get wonderful comments about them… but my time availability and their availability just doesn’t overlap for events! And their general desire to automatically give us a halo because my husband and I always take our four kids to Mass is both funny and sad. I mean really, is this what we’ve come to? But yes, it makes such a difference to get to know at least a few people!

    And your post about Your Mom and Other Religious Ramblings? Excellent and so true!

    Thanks for posting something to the Mater Amabilis list about your post!

    • Amber, welcome! I’m so glad you stopped over from MA. I am also really excited about the flock note.com Catechism. It seems perfect for me! O, and I have totally become a Catholic nerd these last few years. I’ve always been a nerd in some form or other, though. 🙂

      Your parish sounds almost exactly like ours back in the States. Here in Korea, because it is a military community, the attendees are much younger, and many have kids. It is a nice change.

  4. Hello. I’m Alvin from the Philippines. I just stumbled upon your page here. And like you, I love the catholic faith. Like what our new Pope, Francis, have been telling, let us act upon and live the teachings of of the mother church. I’m glad to read your article here. God bless.