The act of faith is certainly an individual act, which takes place in our innermost being, but "faith is truly personal only if it is communitary, if it moves within the 'we' of the Church," which allows us to become "like a window that receives the light of the living God and communicate it to the world," because "faith is strengthened by being gifted to others."
Once again, Benedict
XVI has dedicated his general audience catechesis to "questions about
the faith" in this Year of Faith.
And if last week the question concerned faith as a gift from God,
"for it is God who takes the initiative, so faith is a response with
which we welcome Him as the truth and stable foundation of our life,"
the Pope today asked the 10 thousand people in St Peter's Square despite
the rainy day - which, he joked, "could be worse" - "if faith is of a
purely personal, individual character? Does it only affect me
personally? Do I live my faith alone?".
The answer is found in Baptism, when the priest asks the person to be
baptized if he believes in God the Father, Jesus His only Son and the
Holy Spirit. The "I do" with which we answer "is not the result of my
solitary reflection, it is not the product of my own thoughts, but it is
the result of a relationship, a dialogue in which there is a listening,
and receiving and response; it is communicating with Jesus that takes
me out of the "I" that is enclosed in on myself to open up to the love
of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I find myself united
not only Jesus, but also all those who have walked and walk on the same
path; and this new birth, which begins with Baptism, continues
throughout the course of my existence. I can not build my personal faith
in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God
through a community of believers, the Church, and I a become part of the
multitude of believers in a community that is not only sociological,
but rooted in the eternal love of God. "
So when we recite the Creed during the Mass "we express ourselves in
the first person, but as a community we confess the one faith of the
Church. That" I " individually pronounced is united to that of an
immense choir in time and space, in which everyone contributes, so to
speak, for a harmonious polyphony of faith. "
Pentecost, "when the journey of the Church began," it has been a
"community" that brings the announcement of the death and resurrection
of Jesus "to the ends of the world" "It is the People of God based on
new covenant thanks to the blood of Christ, whose members do not belong
to a particular social or ethnic group, but are men and women from every
nation and culture. It is a ' Catholic' people, that is, one which
speaks new languages, universally open to welcome all, beyond all
boundaries, breaking down all barriers".
And there is "an unbroken chain of life of the Church, of the
proclamation of the Word of God, of the celebration of the sacraments -
he underscored - that comes to us and which we call Tradition. It
guarantees that what we believe is the original message of Christ,
preached by the apostles. "
"The widespread contemporary tendency to relegate faith to the
private sphere - concluded the Pope - contradicts its very nature. We
need the Church to confirm our faith and to experience together the
gifts of God: His Word , the Sacraments, the sustenance of grace and
witness of love. So our "I" into the "we" of the Church will be able to
perceive that it is, at the same time, recipient and protagonist of an
event that surpasses it: the experience of communion with God who
establishes communion between people. In a world where individualism
seems to regulate the relationships between people, rendering them
increasingly fragile, faith calls us to be people of God, to be the
Church, and bearers of the love and communion of God for all mankind. "