Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, announced details of the opening ceremony for the Year of Faith, which will be presided by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. on Thursday 11 October.
"It is particularly significant", the archbishop explained, "that the beginning of the Year of Faith falls on the day of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. This is no coincidence. ... Rather, it is an opportunity to revisit that event which left such a deep mark on the life of the Church in the twentieth century, and to examine the influence its teachings have had during the intervening decades and will have over the coming years of Church commitment to new evangelisation. In fact, Vatican Council II was itself intended as a special moment of new evangelisation".
Thus the anniversary of the Council "deserves to be not only commemorated but also celebrated by the Church". Part of that celebration is the Year of Faith, which "is a good opportunity to revive the faith of believers, animating them with a new and more convincing spirit of evangelisation". The Year will also be "dedicated to the study and examination of the conciliar teachings, that they may help in the formation of believers - particularly through catechesis - in the sacramental life of the Christian community and in its life witness".
In the light of these premises, Archbishop Fisichella went on to describe the inaugural ceremony of the Year of Faith which, he said, "will be deeply impregnated" with symbols evoking Vatican Council II. "Extracts from the four conciliar Constitutions will be read out as expressions of the Council's work and of renewal in the life of the Church. This will be followed by a long procession which which will lead the collective imagination back to 12 October 1962. The procession will be formed of all the bishops participating in the solemn concelebration with the Holy Father. Those taking part will include the Synod Fathers who are currently participating in the meeting on the new evangelisation, presidents of all the world's episcopal conferences, and fourteen Council Fathers who, despite their age, have managed to come to Rome. All seventy of the Council Fathers who are still alive had been invited to participate, but advanced years or health problems have prevented them from being among us".
The procession will be followed by the enthronement of the Word of God, a gesture "which evokes a significant moment in the work of the Council when, during the solemn sessions in St. Peter's Basilica, the Sacred Scripture was brought in in procession and placed at the centre of the gathering in order to remind everyone that they were at the service of the Word of God, which lies at the heart of the Church’s activities". The same lectern and the same copy of the Holy Scriptures as those of the Council will be used. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, there will be another sign "to indicate that the teachings of the Council retain all their validity and deserve to be be better known and studied".
This sign, the archbishop explained, will mirror "Paul VI's consignment of Messages to the People of God at the end of the Council. Those same Messages will be consigned by Pope Benedict XVI to various categories of people": political leaders, representatives of the world of science and thought, artists, women, workers, the poor, sick and suffering, and to young people. "Finally, since this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father will consign a special edition of the Catechism, published for the Year of Faith, to two representatives of catechists".
"The years pass", said Archbishop Fisichella concluding his presentation, "but the power of Vatican II remains, with all its cargo of hope that the entire world may come to know the Gospel of Christ. Our intention is to offer Christians a further reason to feel that they are part of one Church, which knows no frontiers and which daily renews her faith in the Lord through the commitment of her life". (News.Va Vatican Today)
The Vatican has approved a formula for a special “Mass for the New Evangelization” for the upcoming Year of Faith, as well as devised an official hymn, a dedicated website and a multilingual pastoral guide to coincide with the event.
The innovations were revealed at a June 21 Vatican press conference on the Year of Faith, led by the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The year will be held Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013. October 11 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
The Italian archbishop said the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had approved “the formula for a special ‘Mass for the New Evangelization,’” which would be a “clear sign” that, during the year, “priority will be given to prayer and especially to the Eucharist, as source and summit of all Christian life.”
Pope Benedict XVI announced the Year of Faith in October 2011 in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei. In it, he said the aim of the year is “to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.”
He said he also saw it as “a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist,” and to “intensify the witness of charity.”
Archbishop Fisichella said the Year of Faith “aims, above all, to support the faith of believers who, in their daily trials, never cease to entrust their lives to the Lord Jesus with courage and conviction.”
“Their precious testimony, which does not make the news, but is precious in the eyes of the Highest, is what enables the Church to present herself to the world today, as she did in the past, supported by the strength of the faith and the enthusiasm of ordinary people,” he said.
The archbishop noted that commemoration falls within “a broader context” of a “crisis of faith,” which is a “dramatic expression of an anthropological crisis which has abandoned man to his own devices.”
“We must overcome the spiritual poverty affecting so many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God from their lives as a void that needs to be filled,” he said, adding that the Year of Faith is therefore “an opportunity which the Christian community offers to the many people who feel nostalgia for God and who desire to rediscover him.”
The year will coincide with two major anniversaries: the aforementioned 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will also begin around the same time that a three-week meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization gets under way at the Vatican.
A new website for the event is available in various languages and can be accessed by smartphone and tablet. The year also has an official hymn entitled Credo, Domine, Adauge Nobis Fidem (“I Believe, Lord, Increase Our Faith”) as well as a multilingual pastoral guide, “Living the Year of Faith,” to be published in early September.
Pilgrims will also receive an image of Christ, taken from the cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily, with the Creed written on the reverse.
A special logo has also been devised for the year, comprising an image of a ship that symbolizes the Church with the monogram of Christ, IHS, on the ship’s mast. In the background is a sun representing the Eucharist.
Archbishop Fisichella also announced a program of events during the year to be celebrated in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father. These will include an opening Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 11, which will also celebrate the Council’s anniversary. Concelebrating will be Synod Fathers taking part in the Synod on the New Evangelization, presidents of the world’s conferences of bishops, and 35 Council Fathers who are still alive.
Oct. 21 will see the canonization of seven people, including two North Americans, Blessed Sister Marianne Cope, also known as Blessed Marianne of Molokai, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Ecumenical vespers on Jan. 25, 2013, will take place at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. On April 28, the Holy Father will impart the sacrament of confirmation to a group of young people. May 5 will be dedicated to expressions of popular piety. On May 18, Catholic movements will gather in St. Peter’s Square, and, on June 2, the feast of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world.
June 16 will be dedicated to the Gospel of Life, while, on July 7, seminarians and novices from all over the world will conclude their pilgrimage by gathering in St. Peter’s Square. Sept. 29 will be dedicated to catechists on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism, and Oct. 13 will focus on the presence of Mary in the Church. The closing celebration will take place Nov. 24.
The year will also include a number of cultural events, including an exhibition on St. Peter to be held at Castel Sant’Angelo Feb. 7-May 1, 2013. A concert in St. Peter’s Square will also take place on June 22, at which 150,000 participants are expected.
Father Cesare Atuire, CEO of Rome’s pilgrimage office, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, welcomed the news of the Year of Faith, saying his organization is currently creating the best conditions to receive the many pilgrims expected in the Eternal City and the Holy Land during the events.
He said he hopes pilgrims will also “create a catechetical experience within the city,” as well as making the traditional profession of faith in St. Peter’s Basilica. “I have been talking to people in different parts of the world, and I get the feeling they like the idea of the enthusiasm being given to the experience of the faith today,” he said. “I think it’s well worth it, necessary and will make a difference.” (by Edward Pentin)