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Pope Announces "Year of the Faith" for 2012-2013

Pope Benedict XVI has announced plans to invoke a "Year of the Faith" for 2012-2013 in order to "give new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ."

AsiaNews is reporting that the Pope made the announcement during Mass yesterday in St. Peter's Baslica. The Year of the Faith will begin on October 11, 2012, which is the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and will end on November 24, 2013, the feast of the Solemnity of Christ the King.  The Pope said he will promulgate "a special Apostolic Letter" to illustrate the meaning of this Year of Faith which he hopes "will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time."

During his homily, the Pope traced the path for the work of the new evangelization when he referred to the first reading for this Sunday (Isaiah 43, 1.4-6), which speaks of the Persian emperor Cyrus.

" . . . (E)ven the mighty Cyrus, the Persian Emperor, is part of a greater plan, that only God knows and carries forward," the pope said. "This reading gives us the theological meaning of history: the epochal upheavals, the succession of the great powers are under the supreme dominion of God, no earthly power can take His place. "

For this reason, "the theology of history is an important, essential part of the new evangelization, because the men of our time, after the disastrous season of totalitarian empires of the twentieth century, need to find a comprehensive vision of the world and time, a truly free, peaceful vision, that vision which the Second Vatican Council transmitted in its documents, and that my predecessors, the Servant of God Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II, illustrated with their teaching."

Reflecting on the second reading which was taken from the beginning of the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (1.1 to 5), the Pope said "it is the Lord who touches hearts by His Word and His Spirit, by calling people to faith and communion in the Church "and that “evangelization to be effective, needs the power of the Spirit, which animates the proclamation and infuses the bearer with that "conviction" mentioned by the Apostle. "

He then focused on the Gospel (Matthew 22, 15-21), which tells the story of when Jesus tells his followers to "give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Jesus teaches "the way of God in truth," the pope said, and is not "in awe of anyone."

"Caesar’s tribute must be paid, because the image on the coin is his, but man, every man carries another image, that of God, and therefore it is to Him, and Him alone, that everyone owes their existence.”

He went on to say that "the words of Jesus... can not only reduce the political sphere. ... The Church… does not limit itself to reminding people the proper distinction between the sphere of authority of Caesar and that of God, between the political and religious. The mission of the Church, like Christ, is essentially to speak of God, to commemorate His sovereignty, reminding everyone, especially Christians, who have lost their identity, God’s right over what belongs to Him, that is our lives."

Finally, he invoked all to turn to Our Lady. "Learn from the Mother of God and our Mother, to be humble and yet courageous, simple and prudent; meek and strong, not with the strength of the world, but that of truth."

The document explaining the Year of the Faith, entitled Porta Fidei, can be read here.

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