The Year of Faith starts October 11. Pope Benedict has invited all of us to renew our faith by returning to the basics: the Catechism, the documents of Vatican II, the saints and, above all, the witness of faith by example of a holy life and works of charity.
Faith is both a gift of God and a human act. The presence of the Holy Spirit infused at baptism moves the heart to believe in God. At the same time, faith is a human act. Endowed by God with intellect and free will man is capable of cooperating with or resisting divine grace. By an act of faith man freely assents to the whole truth revealed by God which the Church proposes for belief. “It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free.” (Declaration on Human Freedom, 10)
Perhaps it’s providential that the Year of Faith coincides with the fact that religious liberty and other basic freedoms are slowly being eroded. As secularism grows and becomes more assertive, people of faith are increasingly put on the defensive. Up to now, going to church and practicing your faith was rather unremarkable – a nice little hobby if that was your thing. But now, being a person of faith takes courage. But we’ve got it easy when you compare the situation in America to what’s happening to Christians in other parts of the world where people literally risk their lives to go to Mass.
Christians in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria and other places regularly face open hostility because of their faith. These people are the real heroes of the faith today and a tremendous inspiration to the rest of us.