God is good, loving, kind, merciful, compassionate, and generous beyond our wildest imagination!  God speaks to us through His Mystical Body the Church, and especially through His “Sweet Vicar on earth” (St. Catherine of Siena) the Holy Father, the Pope--- presently, Pope Benedict XVI.

From October 11th, 2012 until November 24th, 2013 (The Solemnity of Christ the King), the Holy Father has proclaimed for the Catholic Church, “The Year of Faith”.   This year of faith will be a year of grace and a year of extraordinary blessings.  Of course the blessings of God are limitless, but our capacity can be magnanimous--- generous, or mediocre.  Therefore, the graces and blessings depend in large part upon the disposition of our hearts.  Therefore, our message is directed at how we can sincerely give to the Lord a well-disposed, totally open heart so that He can rain a torrential downpour of graces into our minds, our hearts, our souls and consequently upon our families!  Let us offer some concrete ways to live out this “Year of faith” intensely!
1.     TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!  Nobody has an absolute security for tomorrow!  Jesus constantly exhorts and warns us to stay awake, be alert and to be vigilant.   We know neither the day nor the hour that the Lord will come and ask for an account of our lives. Life is short, precarious and uncertain!  Remember the Tsunami, and Sept 11, 2001 with the twin towers, also, sudden earthquakes. One note in common for all: it all happened unexpectedly! Not to be apocalyptic but realistic—in imitation of the saints—we should live each day as if it were our last.  So let us live this “Year of Faith” as if it were the last year of our life, after which the Lord will judge us for all eternity!  Remember the poetic expression of the Psalmist: “Our life on earth is like the flower of the field that rises in the morning and withers and dies in the evening.”  We are the flower of the field, called to blossom flourish and exude the beautiful fragrance of holiness. Paul reminds us that we are called to be the fragrance of Christ!
2.    PRAYER!   Father John Hardon, S.J. made an acute observation between prayer and faith.   The saintly Jesuit made this connection!  When an individual loses his faith, it is very often related to a neglect or total abandonment of prayer!  Superb insight!  Why? Indeed prayer is an act of faith.  The nature of faith is believing in a God that we do not see.  Prayer is praying to a God that we do not see, but we believe He hears our prayers, is attentive to our supplications and loves us intensely. Therefore, giving up prayer, like a lamp unplugged, the spiritual electric current of faith dies!  In sum, may this year of faith be characterized by a year of more fervent, faithful, intense, and confident prayer!
3.     STUDY!   Common sense teaches us that we cannot love anybody that we do not know.  The same principle can be applied to our relationship with God.  Not knowing God serves as a major obstacle in loving Him. Knowledge and love intersect and interconnect. Once Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was and the Lord responded immediately, quoting the great “Shema” of the Old Testament: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk.  10:27). What should we study?   In his Apostolic Letter, “Porta Fidei”, “The door of faith”, in which the Holy Father explains the purpose, the thrust and the objective of this year of faith, he clearly points to revisiting the Documents of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), but most specifically he encourages us to revisit, to read, study, and learn the basics of our faith as presented by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  (Numbers 11, 12 Porta Fidei).   In his wisdom and insight, the Holy Father is commencing the year of faith simultaneous with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II Council, as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that Pope John Paul II offered as a wonderful “Gift” to the modern world, groping in darkness, ignorance and widespread confusion!  Therefore, if you do not have the Catechism of the Catholic Church, purchase it. If you have it, return to this spiritual gold-mind.  Pray over it, read it meditate upon it, form group-discussions, learn it and live it!!!!
4.     ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST!  The heart of the message and thrust of the “year of Faith”, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, is that each and every one of us individually will arrive at a personal, intimate, deep and growing, profound relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus has to come alive in our lives, as our God and Savior, but also as our best of  FRIENDS!!!  From the outset of his pontificate, the Successor of Christ Pope Benedict XVI has insisted on the discovering of Jesus Christ as  FRIEND!   St. Teresa of Avila taught very clearly that meditating on the Humanity of Christ is one of the most sure and efficacious means to plumb the depths of prayer and arrive at union with God.  Therefore, let us accept the invitation of the Pope and--- through our study and meditation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church--- arrive at an ever deeper “Friendship” with Jesus.  Even our best of friends occasionally fail us!  Not so with Jesus! He is the ever faithful “Friend” in time and He will be forever in eternity.   At the Last Supper Jesus, from the depths of His loving and Sacred Heart, described His relationship to His Apostles (and to us):  “I do not call you servants because the servant does not know what His Master is about, but I call you FRIENDS!
5.    MISSIONARY DRIVE!   Finally, the Holy Father insists in the Apostolic Letter, “The door of faith” that we must be authentic witnesses of Christ. The Pope insists on a constant metanoia or conversion of heart, renouncing our sinful past and focusing on Jesus who perfects our faith.  With this conversion from sin, the Pope insists on the missionary thrust, the call to bring the Good and joyful News of Jesus Christ to the whole world.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  ( Mt. 28:19-20).  These were the last words of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, before He ascended into heaven--- indeed a missionary mandate that he commissioned all of us as His followers to take seriously and carry out!   The year of faith, must be a year of personal enrichment and growth, but also of sharing this faith with the whole world. Undoubtedly, one of the most efficacious ways to grow in our faith is to share it with others!
    May Mary, who pondered the Word of God in her Immaculate Heart and moved in haste to share the Word of God to others—her cousin Elizabeth, Zacharias and John the Baptist--- attain for each and every one of us an open heart this Year of faith, a well-disposed will, and limitless trust in God’s grace and mercy.  Through her powerful prayers this year of faith, will be a year of grace and a year of extraordinary blessings!