The Catholic Church is all about celebrations. In the past few years we’ve had the Year of the Priest (2009-2010); Year of St. Paul (2008-2009); Year of the Rosary (2002 to 2003) to name just a few. And this year, the church is celebrating again, this time, the Year of Faith.
Sounds nice, but what does this really mean? In declaring this year – which actually runs 13 months from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI intended that it would be a time for Catholics to reinvigorate their personal faith journeys and a time to share that faith with others.
As parents or grandparents, it’s a good reminder that we have the responsibility to pass along our Catholic faith and its traditions to our children. It’s a good opportunity to consciously guide and instruct our children in the practices of our faith, showing them that your Catholic faith means something to you and that it is something you hope they make a central part of their lives.
It’s particularly timely in light of the study released on Oct. 9 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life which reported that nearly one out of five people say they are unaffiliated with any religion. According to an Oct. 9 Catholic News Service article, this study of 2,973 adults found people who say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” grew by almost 5 percentage points since 2007, from 15.3 percent to 19.6 percent.
Believers should be alarmed by these numbers! Why are more people, especially younger people, rejecting the notion of organized faith, and in some cases, rejecting the notion of God all together?
While the study offered some good news for Catholics – the number of self-identified Catholics has remained relatively constant – changing from 23 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2012, it really is a wake-up call for all of us to do our part in not only living our faith, but in living it in such a way that we invite others to join us.
The Year of Faith is a good time to refresh your own beliefs and reach out to others. Numerous resources available through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, tinyurl.com/8nsmfsp, including tips for keeping Sunday holy and family oriented, prayers and short excerpts from church teaching. Other resources, including a weekly video message, are available through the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s website: archmil.org/Year-of-Faith.htm.
This issue of Catholic Herald Family, in our featured story on Pages 8 and 9, also offers families suggestions on making the Year of Faith meaningful. Don’t miss Green Bay Bishop David L. Ricken’s “10 Ways that Catholics Can Live the Year of Faith,” containing concrete ways to make a difference this year. His ideas range from volunteering to inviting a friend to Mass to incorporating the Beatitudes into your daily life.
I’d like to also offer an 11th idea for this upcoming year: purchase a subscription to the Catholic Herald newspaper.
If you already receive the paper, consider purchasing a subscription for a family member or friend.
Way before I began working for the Catholic Herald, the weekly publication was part of my family’s life. Each Thursday, for as long as I can remember, the paper arrived in our mailbox. While, as a youngster, I don’t recall being overly interested in the articles, I do remember opening the paper regularly to read Charlie Martin’s column on music – because it contained the lyrics of popular songs of the time.
That’s no longer a feature in the Catholic Herald, but there are so many more items of interest to all age groups. For example, the weekly paper contains the Kids’ Page by Mario Macari and the Colorful Scripture page by Marianne Couture and Phil Younk, both regular features in Catholic Herald Family. There’s also a myfaith supplement, published three times a year, geared to teens and young adults. You’ll find Scripture reflections, local, national and international Catholic news, and my favorites, inspirational stories about people living out their faith.
For example, we recently featured a young woman who changed her mind about abortion due to the words a pro-lifer spoke to her as she entered the clinic. Another recent story told of the work of Jesuit Fr. Jose Moreno who quietly visits area jails and prisons, bringing Christ to the incarcerated.
You’ll find so many examples of people living out their faith — stories we hope might inspire you to do similar things.
If the paper becomes a part of your family’s life, no doubt, family members will occasionally or even regularly flip through it, finding inspiration within the pages.
With a subscription, you’ll be offering your family a weekly dose of faith and will help them create a lifelong connection to their Catholic faith.
Subscribing is easy and not very expensive: a year for $39 – that’s less than $1 a week. Call (414) 769-3500 or visit www.chnonline.org to begin your subscription today. It’s a gift for your whole family and one simple way to make this Year of Faith meaningful.