New Catholics remind us to take faith seriously, archbishop notes

Archbishop Rino Fisichella President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation in the VPO Feb 5 2013 Credit Stephen Driscoll CNA 4 CNA Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, in the VPO Feb. 5, 2013. | Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

Reflecting on the end of the Year of Faith, a Vatican official says the witness of those joining the Church under difficult circumstances should prompt others to commit more fully to their faith.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, reflected that catechumens, "prior to receiving baptism...have had a long journey to make, but they are animated by a desire to become part of the Church."   

"So I think that for all of us Christians who are already baptized, the presence of catechumens tells us that we need to take the faith seriously," he told CNA in a Nov. 18 interview.

"We don't always live the faith with courage," the archbishop explained, and "frequently we hide it and many times in public places we prefer to keep silent about that which expresses our identity."

In order to become Catholic, many catechumens "risk their own lives, but they make this decision. I think that we too must reflect seriously on this," he emphasized, adding that they offer an example of "the courage that we must have to live the faith."

This weekend during the close of the Year of Faith, more than 550 people from 47 different countries have gathered as part of their path to join the Catholic Church. 

Benedict XVI instituted the Year of Faith – running from Oct. 11, 2012 until Nov. 24, 2013 – during his pontificate with the aim of fostering a fresh momentum in the New Evangelization.

"It will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time," the retired pontiff stated in the fall of 2011 upon the announcement of the event.

The archbishop noted that "although the Year of Faith ends, faith is a journey that continues throughout all of life."

This  past year, he reflected, "has been extremely positive, especially because we've experienced how God's grace works (and) in what way we're called to live the faith, abandoning ourselves more and more to the action of his grace."

One particular aspect has been that of pilgrimage: more than 8.5 million persons have come to Rome "to profess the faith." Many more "have been able to celebrate their faith in their communities and dioceses, in their parishes."

Archbishop Fisichella says that the Year of Faith has also brought about a sense of hope.

"We normally underscore the aspects of crisis and other negative aspects, this year has told us also that we have to look at the positive signs that are given to us, to that capacity of true signs of the times that the Lord places before us and asks us to live with intensity."

"It has been a moment in which we have touched with our hands the great vitality of the Church in living out the faith," he added, explaining that it is "the Lord, the Spirit that guides us, so He changes our hearts, transforms us and we are converted."

The president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization hopes that one fruit of the Year of Faith with be the realization of the baptismal call to share the Gospel, so that "all the people who are Christians in diverse ways of life" will recognize they are "called to be evangelists."

This year has involved not only a celebration in which the Church has expressed her "joy in living out the faith," but a recognition of the "duty that the Church will take on anew to carry the gospel to every creature."

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