Although faith is intensely personal, it is necessarily transmitted and lived through relationships with others, Pope Benedict XVI said at his general audience on Wednesday.
“I cannot build my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God through a community of believers,” the Pope said in a rain-soaked St. Peter's Square Oct. 31.
“The Church, and I become part of the multitude of believers in a community that is...rooted in the eternal love of God.”
Responding to the question of whether or not an individual can live his faith in isolation, the pontiff said the answer is found in the sacrament of baptism, where the believer's acclimation of faith draws him into a community of believers.
“The 'I do'” of the profession of faith “is not the product of my own thoughts, but it is the result of a relationship, a dialogue in which there is a listening, and receiving and response,” he said.
“It is communicating with Jesus that takes me out of the 'I' that is enclosed in on myself to open up to the love of God the Father.”
Pope Benedict also noted that the profession of faith recited in the Creed at Mass, while personal, is corporate as well.
The individual “I believe” uttered by the individual Catholic is “united to that of an immense choir in time and space, in which everyone contributes, so to speak, for a harmonious polyphony of faith.”
During his remarks, the Pope reiterated that faith cannot be built on a “personal faith in private dialogue with Jesus,” since “the faith is passed on by a community of believers.”
In embracing this community, one becomes part of that “multitude of believers...rooted in the eternal love of God.”
Because of this, he noted, it is wrong to adhere to the “contemporary tendency to relegate faith to the private sphere” because that “contradicts its very nature.”
“The new life I live in Christ through the gift of his Spirit is received and nourished within the Church’s communion,” the Pope added.
“Dwelling in the Church’s living tradition, may we mature in the faith we have received and, by putting it into practice, become beacons of Christ’s light and peace in our world.”
He concluded his general audience message with prayers for Americans affected by Hurricane Sandy, which smashed the Eastern coast early this week, leaving over 40 dead.
The Pope offered his “prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding.”