‘Year of Faith’ strengthened, renewed devotion of Catholic faithful—bishop

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MANILA, Nov. 26, 2013—As the celebration of the Year of Faith ended Sunday, a Catholic bishop emphasized its nourishing effects to the spiritual life of the Catholic faithful, noting that it was a period that “strengthened, confirmed, and renewed our Catholic faith in the God of love.”

In a pastoral letter, Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera said that the Year of Faith celebration, which started on October 11 last year, helped the faithful to appreciate more God’s gift of faith and ponder upon how it gives meaning and enriches their lives.

“One of the fruits of the Year of Faith is that it has given us an accurate and updated picture of the faith status of the Catholic faithful…We are also able to discern the kind of faith we should aspire for and the triple duties that we must assume,” Garcera said.

“We started with the desire to see Jesus; we end with the gifts of seeing Him in our lives, in the Church, in our society, in the face of our neighbor, in our brokenness and sinfulness, in the calamities that struck our country and in the whole of creation,” he added.

Garcera noted the need to “fan into flame” the faith of the Catholic faithful through addressing inadequacies in their faith life such as the inability to see God’s presence and action due to superficial quality of prayer, the lack of rootedness of faith in the Word of God, and the inability to reflect on one’s life in the light of faith and allow the light of faith enrich one’s life.

To counter inadequacies in one’s faith, he said, it is imperative “for diocesan commissions and parishes to devise programs and structures…where the lay faithful can learn to reflect on their lives in the light of the Word of God and can help them respond to God’s presence and actions with gratitude.”

He also emphasized the need to lead the faithful to live their faith by challenging a devotion that is divorced from moral life, solely centered on devotional and liturgical practices, and has nothing to do with social transformation.

Garcera said that spiritual weaknesses can be addressed “by coming up with structured corporal works of mercy programs…for the situation also demands synergy of all programs related to social apostolate.”

Aside from living one’s faith, he said that the faithful must also learn to practice sharing their faith to others. However, he noted that “faith does not blossom into sharing when it is divorced from life and when it is shared only selectively.”

“We must discern new ways of serving the needy and discover timely ministries that will really address urgent pastoral needs,” Garcera said, noting that this can be manifested by pushing parishes to come up with structures that will inspire more parishioners to serve in the many different forms of ministries.

He also stressed the need for parish priests and lay leaders to establish personal connection with the faithful to monitor the faith development of their respective parishioners.

“For our Church and faith to be renewed, we must inspire one another to be faithful in our vocation – either priests, religious or lay faithful,” he said.

“We must become a Church that truly cares for families especially the young people…whose members are truly stewards of God’s gift and who find meaning and fulfillment in their faith-life by sharing their time, treasure, and talent…and whose members not only continuously deepen their Christian faith but are also willing to share Christ with others,” he added. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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