Examination of conscience for the Year of Faith

The Year of Faith began about a year ago, and it ends in about 10 weeks, on Nov. 24. Now is a good time, then, for each of us to ask how we have lived the Year of Faith, and to make changes, if necessary, so that it does not pass us by unaffected. To this end I wish to offer here an examination of conscience, based on the Church's recommendations for living the Year of Faith.

As Pope Benedict explained in "Porta fidei" ("Door of Faith," his Motu proprio, or specific papal initiative), which proclaimed the Year of Faith, the main purpose of the Year is a life-changing conversion: "The Year of Faith ... is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world." This conversion is meant to include three things -- firm foundation, witness of one's life, and evangelization -- in pretty much that order. Our faith is to become a firm foundation for our life, so that our life itself gives witness to the truth of the Gospel, which leads naturally to our sharing this faith with others and a participation in the New Evangelization.

So the first question to ask is, "Has the Year of Faith been the occasion for a deep and genuine conversion for me? Have I made use of this year to deepen my faith and turn wholly to Christ in faith?" If you can sincerely answer yes to this question, then the examination is done; if not, then you should probably go on.

We are human beings, not pure spirits. If we wish to mark or arrive at some great thing spiritually, it helps to do something remarkable physically, which involves the body. So the Church in its wisdom, when it gave recommendations for observance of the Year of Faith, put high on the list the ancient practice of pilgrimage.

The Church recommends that we make a pilgrimage, above all, if possible, to the Holy See (Rome), but it also recommends pilgrimages to the church of one's baptism, or a Marian shrine or designated church in one's diocese. Pilgrimages are occasions of conversion and of the grace of conversion. So the second question in this examination is: "Have I made one of the recommended pilgrimages specifically for the gift of faith, in observance of the Year of Faith?" If not, then, as I said, there are still 10 weeks left and really no reason why we could not still make a pilgrimage. (Yearoffaithboston.org gives a good list of the churches designated by Cardinal O'Malley as holy sites of pilgrimage. Go to the tab, "Plenary Indulgence.")

The Catholic Faith involves reason and the will as well as the imagination and emotions. Our faith is held by a community ("the communion of the saints," "we believe"), which exists in time and has a history. For this reason the Church has also recommended that, during the Year of Faith, all the faithful study the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Actually, the Year of Faith coincides with the 50th anniversary of the council and the 20th anniversary of the catechism.

The need for this kind of study is great. Catholics in general are far from conforming to the "ideal of an educated laity" which Blessed John Henry Newman so deeply wanted to see realized 150 years ago. Fifty years later, how many of us have read even a single Vatican II document? Hence the third point of examination: "Have I studied the main documents of Vatican II? Have I read through the catechism?"

For most of us, it will be too late to make good, if we have been completely negligent in these areas. At 800 pages, one would have to read 10 pages a day to get through the catechism--not impossible, but difficult. On the other hand, the catechism contains 59 summaries, entitled "In Brief," which could be assimilated at the rate of one per day before the Year of Faith ends. Or someone who developed now the habit of reading each day from the catechism could claim that good practice as his or her memento of the Year.

The thick volume of the documents of Vatican II can look imposing; however, the two most important documents are not ridiculously long: "Lumen Gentium" and "Gaudium et Spes." Each could be studied in a weekend. After these, a layperson today should probably read the documents on lay apostolate ("Apostolicam Actuositatem") and religious freedom ("Dignitatis Humanae").

Although the Church recommends many other practices and devotions in the Year of Faith, one that is especially relevant for a layperson is a better acquaintance with the saints: "The Saints and the Blessed are the authentic witnesses of the faith. It is, therefore, opportune that Episcopal Conferences work toward the dissemination of a knowledge of the local Saints of their territory, also by modern means of social communication." Saints of the Americas are the most relevant to us. Thus the fourth point of examination: "Have I become familiar with, and developed a particular devotion to, one of the great saints of my place and area?"

Who are these saints? Great men and women who were lovers of Christ, such as Saint Marianne Cope or Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. See again, the Boston Archdiocese Year of Faith website, under "Heroes of Faith," for information, biographies and devotions.

Michael Pakaluk is Professor of Philosophy and Chairman at Ave Maria University.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...