Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the exceptional faith of St. Thomas the Apostle, who after seeing the wounds of Jesus Christ for himself professed the great words – “My Lord and My God.” In the Eastern Churches, this Sunday is known as Thomas Sunday. When writing about this event in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31), St. Augustine of Hippo says Thomas “saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched; but by means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other.”
A year before the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a “Moto Proprio Data” (Apostolic Letter), titled, Porta Fidei (Door of Faith). In this letter, Pope Benedict XVI explained the importance of faith during the Year of Faith. At the parish where I work at here in Gilbert, St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, it was this letter and the title of the letter that gave us the idea to name our Adult Faith Formation Program, Porta Fidei.
Here are ten quotes from Pope Benedict XVI focusing on the importance of Faith –
1. “The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22).” (#1)
2. “We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). Indeed, the teaching of Jesus still resounds in our day with the same power: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6:27)…Belief in Jesus Christ, then, is the way to arrive definitively at salvation.” (#3)
3. “The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us…the Church … clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. The Church, ‘like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God’, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1 Cor 11:26).” (#6)
4. “In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. Saint Paul helps us to enter into this reality when he writes: “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.” (#10)
5. “Profession of faith is an act both personal and communitarian. It is the Church that is the primary subject of faith. In the faith of the Christian community, each individual receives baptism, an effective sign of entry into the people of believers in order to obtain salvation.” (#10)
6. “…We must not forget that in our cultural context, very many people, while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world. This search is an authentic “preamble” to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God. Human reason, in fact, bears within itself a demand for “what is perennially valid and lasting”. (#10)
7. “During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfilment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfilment in the mystery of his Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his resurrection.” (#13)
8. “By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mk 10:28)…By faith, the disciples formed the first community… By faith, the martyrs gave their lives… By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ… By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Rev 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus…By faith, we too live: by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.” (#13)
9. “Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path…through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love.” (#14)
10. “Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us.” (#15)
One week ago last night, 21 individuals from our RCIA/Adult Confirmation program received the Sacraments of the Church. I dedicate this post to each of them in the hopes that their faith will continue to grow, burning like the fire that lit the Easter Candle. Go out and set the world ablaze with Word of God!