Perhaps you’ve heard: The Catholic Church will celebrate a Year of Faith beginning on October 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
But what is the Year of Faith and why should it matter to you and your family?
The Church recognizes that from time to time its members need a gentle nudge to deepen their relationship with Jesus. In calling for a Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI wants Catholics to draw closer to Jesus through prayer, spiritual reading and study, and works of charity. In living out their everyday lives with faith, hope and love, Catholics offer a profound witness to the Gospel. In other words, they evangelize the world around them, starting with the family.
How can your family participate in the Year of Faith? Your diocese and/or parish has probably scheduled events and activities to celebrate the Year of Faith. Check the bulletin and websites. The USCCB has also assembled a growing collection of Family Resources for the Year of Faith.
Here are a few suggestions to get started:
For individuals and couples
• Work through sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Read a section and discuss it at dinner or on the way to Sunday Mass. For ideas visit the Diocese of Joliet website.
• Use your smartphone, tablet, computer or other device to help you incorporate your faith into your daily life. A variety of Catholic apps are available for most operating systems. (Here are two articles with reviews of Catholic apps.) If you’re a fan of e-readers, it’s easy to keep important texts, such as the Bible, handy in electronic form. (The USCCB has the Catechism of the Catholic Church available in ebook format.) Additionally, there are number websites that can help remind you to pray or complete a favorite devotion. (Pray More Novenas sends out novena prayers by email and Marian Minute helps create a meditative electronic environment for a short prayer.)
• Pray the Year of Faith Family Prayer. Choose a time when the family is likely to be together, for example, after Sunday dinner, and make this a regular weekly practice.
• During the Year of Faith, try to acknowledge your family’s “name days,” that is, the feast of each person’s patron saint. Look up information about the saint and find a picture. Perhaps you can make a food associated with the saint. Check here for ideas to celebrate saints’ days with children.
• Take a “field trip” to visit the diocesan cathedral or a historic church or religious landmark in your area. Or simply take a good look around your own parish church. Do you know the meaning of the various symbols? What saint(s) does your parish honor?
• Have a family discussion to choose one area of human need that Catholic teaching highlights. Decide on a way to answer that need together this year, whether through volunteering, fundraising, donating unneeded items or a commitment to pray.