Today Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its Note with Pastoral Recommendations for the Year of Faith in response to the Holy Father's Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio, Porta fidei, see here for the text of the Note.
The Year begins on the fifieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and twenieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism: 11th October this year, and ends on Solemnity of Christ the King the following year, 24th November 2013.
As the Cardinal points out: 'The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today - capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the "door of faith".' At the heart of the Year, then, will be the person of Jesus Christ, a renewal of our faith in him, a radical catechesis based on the Catechism, and a major push to all involved in the New Evangelisation.
The Note offers a number of recommendations for the Year for the various levels in the Church: universal, episcopal conference, diocesan and parish. A Synod of Bishops in October 2012 will be devoted to it, and World Youth Day in Rio in 2013 will take it as its theme.
At the episcopal conference level, I note a recommendation with regard to local Saints - Ireland should take careful note of this. As I have often said, and as my friend over at Fr Willie Doyle's blog noted just a few days ago, there has been an appalling lack of interest in the holy people of our country. As the Note correctly points out: "the Saints and Blesseds are authentic witnesses of faith".
At parish level, I see the Cardinal is aiming at a major catechesis - priests should offer cycles of homilies on the various aspects of the faith, the creed, encounter with Christ, and faith and the Church. That is badly needed. We will have to get thinking. It might be no harm for groups of priests to get together and help each other in this. Any takers, brothers?
The Year of Faith is a great opportunity, I hope the Church in Ireland takes it. The various other Years passed us by - Rosary, Eucharist, Pauline - I do hope we won't let this pass: it is a marvellous gift to us as we work towards reform and renewal. And not only for Ireland, for the whole Church.