A Letter on the "Year of Faith" from Brother Placide Ngoie Munanga, C.F.X.

A proposal concerning reflection and meditation for those who are preparing for final vows in the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier as well as continuing formation for all (both religious and lay Xaverians).

Dear brothers and sisters,

Since 11 October 2012, Masses have been recommended in all parishes to mark the official opening of the Year of Faith by the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization.

As a Christian and as a disciple of Jesus Christ in ordinary life, what substance can I personally see in this Holy Year?

The Church would like this year to be intense, passionate, and fruitful.

How do I renew every day my Faith in the Lord through a life commitment in the style to which I have been called to live in the Church as a religious or as a secular Xaverian?

Pope Benedict XVI notes furthermore in his proclamation of this Year of Faith that it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

For the record, this Council promulgated 16 Documents: 4 Constitutions, 9 Decrees, and 3 Declarations.

The Constitutions describe doctrinal matter.

The Decrees describe possible reforms in different areas.

The Declarations specify the current teaching of the Church on given topics.

NB: Each document has a title in Latin from the first two or three words of the Latin text.

The work of the Second Vatican Council concerns me as a Christian, and especially as a Xaverian educator.

I find that these documents are an effective aid, allowing me to reflect on the deepening of my Faith as a Catholic Christian, both personally and communally.

This is the paramount concern of the proclamation of the Year of Faith by Pope Benedict XVI: for all baptized people to meditate on the essential matters of our Faith!

While expanding knowledge of the Faith, I become significantly involved in ministries, an active member of the Faith community, and I develop a personal relationship with Jesus as a disciple. This is what I consider an adult life of Faith, to which all baptized people are called.

The following testimony of a French priest, in relation to the Second Vatican Council has long challenged me. He said, “In my youth I lived through Vatican Council II, opened by Pope John XXIII, and step by step I followed its completion, as well as many of the proclamations. I understood, certainly, that the Church is the Church of God, but it also that of the ordinary men and women who follow the Gospel, transmitted by humans… The Church of humans, advanced by its Saints, recognized or unknown, and by all those who carry it with their very persons… certainly made in the image of God but also enchained in their freedom, their choices, their doubts, their anguish, their fears and their hopes….

Where are we to find the message of the Church in all its purity, amid all the confusion of the world, amid its arrogance, so as to continue rowing against the tide, trying to be Faithful and keeping our eyes fixed on Christ, as we also commune with people’s suffering and with their hopes?”

I have understood like this French priest who said further: “For me, the Documents of the Council are the catechesis of the Church. They are paths of reflection and meditation that nourish my Faith and motivate my prayer and my commitment in the Church… Yes these documents help express my Faith in the realities of today’s world.”

During the Mass for the solemn inauguration of the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI in his homily described these recent decades as marked by the progress of spiritual desertification… The void has spread, but he adds that in this desert there must be above all people of Faith who by the example of their lives show the way to the Promised Land.

In concluding his homily, the Pope proposed, “Here then is how we can live this Year of Faith: as a pilgrimage in the deserts of the contemporary world for which we need to carry only what is essential: “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.” (Luke 9:3); but rather, the Gospel and the Faith of the Church, of which the documents of the Second Vatican Council are a brilliant expression, as is also the Catechism of the Catholic Church published 20 years ago. »

In relation to the 16 documents mentioned above, allow me to present below the titles of some of these Conciliar documents for reflection and meditation during this Year of Faith.

Let’s continue to consider our Xaverian website as a place for information and exchange of experience in order to search together to live an adult, ardent Faith in our communities of life and in our school communities.

I would like then to offer these few document titles to all, and particularly to those of our young brothers who are preparing for final vows, for a sharing of Faith, of concrete lived experiences, through our Xaverian website.

I hope that each Xaverian religious and lay associate may express again the discovery of the joy of believing and its vital importance as well as the value of what is essential for living from the experience of this desert, this void that everyone experiences today.

I want to conclude by paraphrasing once again Pope Benedict XVI, who asked that, with the Rosary, we may be guided by Mary, the model of Faith, in meditating the mysteries of Christ; thus day by day are we invited and helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it may inform and illuminate our whole life and humanize the ordinary actions of our life.

 

A FEW TITLES OF CONCILIAR DOCUMENTS

  • GAUDIUM ET SPES: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

How does the Church offer itself in service to the world and to humankind?

How personally as a member of this Church, do I offer myself in service to the world and to humankind?

  • AD GENTES: Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church.

By its nature, the Church is missionary because it proclaims the message of Jesus to humankind. How do I as a missionary proclaim the message of Jesus Christ around me?

  • APOSTOLICAM ACTUOSITATUM: Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.

Through baptism, the laity are called also to share in the temporal: family, culture,
economy, the arts, professions and politics. How do I exercise my baptismal commitments
in my ordinary life?

  • GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS: Declaration on Christian Education.

Education, the formation of every person and of all humankind, is a human right and not a privilege. Parents are the primary educators in the Faith. Catholic schools and universities are mentioned as sources of Faith formation. As a Christian educator, how do I form myself to become a resource person for others?

  • DEI VERBUM: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.

Jesus is the mediator and the fullness of the Revelation of God. The word of God is revealed in Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of authentically interpreting and teaching the word of God.

  • DOCUMENTS RELATING TO RELIGIOUS LIFE
        1. PERFECTAE CARITATIS: Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life. Return of religious to their original vision and adaptation to changes in culture. “Turn to God and fall in love with God,” in the example of Theodore James Ryken. The ordinary life of life, ordinary men… what substance do I give to these expressions in my life as Xaverian?
        2. Chapter VI, on Religious, of LUMEN GENTIUM: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
        3. Religious and Human Promotion: 1978 Document of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes.
        4. The Contemplative Dimension of Religious Life: 1980, Document of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes.
        5. VITA CONSECRATA: 1996, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Religious Life.
        6. MUTUAE RELATIONES: 1978, Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes and Sacred Congregation for Bishops, Directives for the Mutual relations between Bishops and Religious in the Church.
        7. Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate: 1983, Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes.
  • Other Documents of the Church such as Papal Encyclicals may also be considered for this Forum on the year of Faith 2012.

 

Nairobi, Kenya

Feast of All SAINTS, 1 November 2012

Placide Ngoie Munanga, C.F.X.

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