Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pope to end the Year of Faith with Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii gaudium'

Pope Francis will bring to a close the Year of Faith with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which will be issued on Tuesday, 26 November.

On the preceding Sunday, the pope will consign symbolically the document to a bishop, a priest and a deacon at the Mass that ends the Year of Faith, a ritual that will, for the first time, include the public exhibit of Saint Peter's relics. These are two of the three "deeds" that will mark this important moment. The third one will be an "act of charity" in favour of the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Mgr Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, illustrated the meaning and timing of the "deeds" ending the Year of Faith.

For him, the three events that will end a time "devoted entirely to reviving the faith of believers," which "the people of God experienced with great intensity throughout the whole world".

The first will be Pope Francis' visit to the monastery of the Camaldolese Nuns on the Aventine Hill, on Thursday, 21 November, "A short but significant visit. For some time, that day has been reserved for the Pro Orantibus: a day, therefore, dedicated to those who chose the cloistered life as a privileged dedication to a life of prayer and contemplation. This monastery was chosen because after the Second Vatican Council, its nuns have renewed their rule, trying to return to the origins of their charisma. According to an ancient tradition, the first traces of female monastic life in Rome were found on the Aventine.

The pope will pray with the nuns, who in recent years opened their monastery to others so that they can share the lectio divina and [the food of their] soup kitchen. This fulfils the dual requirement of faith, which is to discover the richness of God's Word and share one's table with those who have nothing to eat. "

The second event is set for the afternoon of Saturday, 23 November, a day dedicated to catechumens, 500 of them from 47 different countries from all five continents, most notably from Russia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, China, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Cuba. . ."

Pope Francis will meet 35 catechumenate candidates at the entrance of St Peter's Basilica, where he will ask them the traditional questions associated with the ritual: "What is your name? What do you ask of God's Church? What does faith offer you?" For these young people, the sign of the cross on the foreheads and the reception in the church will be the clear sign of the journey they will one day undertake to confess in person the faith. "

"For Christians who often do not live their baptism and for those who keenly feel a desire for God, this will be a moment of trial to rediscover the newness of the faith. It will be a sign for all to rediscover the beauty of baptism and the new life that was given to us in Christ."

Speaking about the Mass ending the Year of Faith, Mgr Fisichella said that it was "a commitment that the Church is called to make. Believing also means getting others involved in the joy of Christ. The pope's Exhortation must therefore become a mission entrusted to every baptised person so that he or she may become an evangelist."

"Symbolically, the Pope will deliver his Letter to a bishop, a priest and a deacon, chosen among the youngest to be ordained, respectively from Latvia, Tanzania and Australia. Religious men and women will follow as will representatives of every event held during the Year of the faith: people confirmed, a seminarian and a novice, a family, catechists, a blind person (to whom the Pope will give the letter in an audio CD form), young people, [and representatives of] confraternities and movements. Given the value of their work, Etsuro Sotoo, a Japanese sculptor who worked on the Sagrada Familia, and Anna Gulak, a young Polish painter, will represent the artistic community, highlighting the value beauty has as a privileged tool of evangelisation. Two members of the journalistic profession will also be present to bear witness to the great work and promotion carried out by those involved in this service, which is increasingly seen as a new form of culture that the Church urgently feels it must address and whose help and support it needs in its work of evangelisation."

Even though the Year of Faith comes to an end, "the desire to keep alive the lessons that we have received in recent months continues. Throughout the whole world, the people of God experienced this moment with great intensity. The fact that more than eight and a half million pilgrims came to the tomb of Peter to profess the faith is one of the smaller albeit significant events that will remain in our memory. It is impossible to describe fully what was experienced at the local level. Micro initiatives around the world have shown how much alive and dynamic the faith remains among the faithful, a sign of the piety and profound religiosity that is present in our people. The moments to remember the teachings of Vatican II, the catechesis on the faith, various celebrations, examples of charity, cultural activities of various kind . . . all this remains as a sign that confirms Christians' commitment in the world. In short, this Year was truly an experience of grace that we will carry within ourselves with a renewed sense of gratitude towards the Lord for what he made us experience. We heard stories that stand as living documents of a faith that can give meaning to life even in the remotest, poorest, and most grief-stricken places, where Christians are a small minority. Faith brought us together and allowed us to remind everyone of the foundation of our belief: the Risen Jesus, hope for a new life."

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