Pope Francis on Saturday evening presided over a gathering of Catechumens in Saint Peter’s Basilica, in one of the final events of the Year of Faith.
At the beginning of the gathering, the Holy Father welcomed some 35 men and women by presiding over the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.
This was followed by a celebration of the Liturgy of the Word.
In his catechesis, which followed the reading of the Gospel of John 1:35-42, the Pope emphasized “how important it is to keep this desire [for God] alive, this yearning to encounter the Lord and experience him, his love, his mercy!”
“The faith,” he continued, “gives us the certainty of Jesus’ constant presence in every situation, also the most painful or difficult to understand. We are called to journey, to enter always more deeply into the mystery of God’s love, who is above us and enables us to live with serenity and hope.”
In an interview with Vatican, Fr Geno Sylva, an official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, explained the significance of this gathering.
As the Year of Faith comes to a close, he said, “what continues is the commitment of every Christian to respond daily to the Lord Jesus who calls us to be his disciples, sent out into the world to announce the Gospel, and to bear witness to the joy of a life lived in faith.”
The Year of Faith officially ends on Sunday with Mass, the presentation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, followed by the veneration of the relics of St Peter the Apostle, which are being shown for the first time in history.
Presenting the relics of St. Peter, Fr Sylva said, is a “powerfully symbolic way to end the Year of Faith.”
“The whole purpose of the Year of Faith was to reawaken the faith of the first Christians in the hearts of present-day and contemporary Christians.”
“This final, culminating sign,” he continued, “will confirm once again that the door for the encounter with Christ is always open and awaits to be crossed with that very same passion and enthusiasm, and the very same conviction of the very first believers.”