Concelebrating Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for the opening of the Year of Faith, Thursday, Oct. 11, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki called upon the Catholic community to answer the question Jesus asked of his apostles (Mt 16:15): “But who do you say I am?”
“Tonight, we stand as modern disciples in the shadow of St. Peter, ready to give our reply,” the archbishop said. “The church will profess that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the son of the living God.”
Symbolic of the teaching aspect of the bishop’s office, Archbishop Listecki delivered his homily from the cathedra (bishop’s chair) to more than 700 worshipers.
“Once we answer that question, our lives can never be the same; once we understand that this question is only fully revealed in and through the teachings of his church do we begin to comprehend the importance of knowing and sharing our faith,” he said.
The archbishop, noting that Oct. 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, recalled the excitement that surrounded the council.
“… many were invigorated by the teachings that challenged the faithful to engage the world for the sanctification of all peoples,” he said. “It is the hope of Pope Benedict that this Year of Faith would be a good opportunity to help people understand the texts given by the council fathers.”
Referencing the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the archbishop said “the words of the Second Vatican Council have lost nothing of their value or brilliance.
“However, they need to be read correctly, to be widely known, and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the magisterium within the church’s tradition.”
Archbishop Listecki recalled that this year also marked the 20th anniversary of publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and termed the book “a wellspring of knowledge from which we may drink to replenish the faith.”
Calling the Year of Faith “an important time for evangelization,” the archbishop cited those outside the community, inside the community and “within our hearts” as areas to be evangelized.
“Outside our community, the proclamation of Christ to those who have not yet embraced Jesus as Lord and Messiah,” he said. “And we can do so by the good works of charity urged by the love of Christ. How shall they know you? By the love that you show one another.”
Archbishop Listecki mentioned those within the community “who have fallen asleep in the practice of their faith.”
“They are, unfortunately, our family members, our neighbors or our fellow workers. However, we can awaken them through personal invitation and a willingness to walk the faith journey with them,” he said.
Archbishop Listecki said “personal conversion” was an ongoing process.
“The love of Christ in our own lives must constantly grow. Prayer, Eucharist, study of Scriptures and the catechism, and the works of charity all done for the love of Christ will deepen our relationship and strengthen our identity in Christ,” the archbishop said.
Besides being praised by Archbishop Listecki for their enthusiasm and for engaging “the believers on all levels in appropriating the language of the teaching (of the church) to the experience of their lives,” 250 people in catechetical work, representing 74 parishes, received a blessing from Bishop Donald J. Hying near the conclusion of Mass. Afterward, each received a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Due to a number of financial donations specifically for this purpose, come Lent, the archdiocese plans to provide approximately 6,000 copies of the catechism to all who are involved in faith formation. These will be presented at the schools and parishes in which the catechists teach.