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“Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge

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“Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge

by Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

A recently released encyclical entitled Lumen Fidei, (The Light of Faith), is a joint effort of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. It is a document that is well worth studying to get a deeper understanding of our faith and its impact on our lives, and ways to put it into practice in our daily life journey. 

Jesus is presented as the light of our individual and communal lives. By developing a closer bond with Jesus, we open the doors of our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of our call to follow Jesus and ways to live our call of faith and be more ready to respond to the invitation of the divine that is always present to us.

Our faith enables us to see people and events through the eyes of Jesus, and this will shape our response to the call. The document reminds us that faith, understood and lived,  is the ground of our own actions done in love. Such a move gives us reason to have deep hope in our own lives and empowers us to share our hope and love with others through acts of compassion and caring.  This  calls us to reach out to those most in need. Faith also gives us hope in our own lives, especially in times of challenge and pain. We have the example of Jesus, to teach us how to accept pain and not let it destroy us. This approach will help us grow and mature in our faith.

The document reminds us that faith is not a subjective gift given to us. It is a gift  to all of us by our Loving God.  It helps us to see God as the center of our lives and of all of our endeavors. As we practice our faith, we are nourished by God’s presence as the source of our unity, love and peace. It helps us distinguish truth from falsehood and live what we profess in our daily lives.   Then we will develop supportive and loving relationships, and  claim God’s saving power.    The Light always comes from the Risen Christ and God’s light within our minds and hearts, and we are enabled to see people and events through the eyes of Jesus.

Our faith will empower us to have a solid foundation for working for the common good and engaging in works of justice and peace, so badly needed in our day.  We will also live with grateful hearts, for all the wonderful blessings bestowed on us day by day, that enable us to live with purpose and hope. Using the gifts will also enable us address such issues as racism by reminding us that God created all people in His image and likeness and all deserve respect, love and compassion in our daily lives. Inequality is a big threat today all over the world and is badly in need of healing. With God’s unfailing help, we can do infinitely more than we dare ask or imagine. Another area of need is respect of nature and our environment, which are often subject to abuse in our culture and around the globe.  In the use of our resources, Mahatma Gandhi reminds us that “there is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

What can we do to put the call of Lumen Fidei into practice?

In our congregations or communities, we can gather in small groups to discuss the content of the encyclical. Start out with prayer and contemplation inviting God to open our minds and hearts to the call of the document and to find ways to put it into practice. Take time to study the message and create ways to make it a reality in this time and place. Some questions could include:

How do I understand faith? What is its impact on my life ?

What is the source of my faith? How do I evaluate it and allow it to have a greater impact.

Share a time when your eyes were opened by the gift of faith.

What can I do to strengthen my faith and allow it to influence my thoughts, words and actions? What groups can I collaborate with to work on this project?

Where do I need to look at life through the eyes of Jesus?

Reflect on the life of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who models for us how to live our faith as sons and daughters of our God. Ask her to help us open our minds and hearts to recognize the call of God’s Spirit and to respond with love and generosity.

End by expressing prayers of thanks for the great bounty that God offers us day after day.

(To read the full document, Lumen Fidei Encyclical,  go to www.originsonline.com  -  July 25th, 2013, Volume 43. No. 11.)


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Blessings on your preaching.


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