A couple of important events to note this coming week.
First, the personnel of Edmonton Catholic Schools will gather on Tuesday for their annual faith development day. About 3000 people - trustees, administration, teachers, support staff - will assemble to celebrate the Eucharist and reflect together upon the gift of faith. Not a bad idea, that. Faith in Jesus Christ is the heart of our Catholic school system. It is also the heart and fuel of every Christian life. What ECS is doing is a sign of what must occupy all Christians at all times: the development of the faith.
Reflecting upon the upcoming Year of Faith to which he is summoning the Church, Pope Benedict, in an address last Friday to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that the renewal of faith must be the first priority of the Church in our day. This Year, he said, is "an opportune moment to point out to all the gift of faith in the Risen Christ, the clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the invaluable doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church."
Faith in the Risen Christ means: acceptance that Jesus is who he says he is, trusting in his fidelity to us and in the life-giving power of his Resurrection, believing that he is with us as he promised. In short, faith is believing in the love of God for us (cf. 1John 4:16). Such faith in the person of Christ leads naturally to full acceptance of his message. The Lord's teaching has been handed on in the Tradition of the Church. Hence the need to pay special attention to the great signposts of that Tradition. Pope Benedict is highlighting in particular the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Developing the faith means growing in our knowledge and love of Christ and surrendering ever more fully to his message. May there be, indeed, a profound renewal of faith throughout the Church.
The second event will take place on Thursday, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This is also the World Day for Consecrated Life. Its purpose is to focus our attention and esteem on the great witness of consecrated life in the Church and world, as well as to offer men and women in religious life the opportunity to renew their commitment to the evangelical counsels. I have known many wonderful sisters and priests in religious orders and have been moved by their example. Think of the priests and sisters who have touched your lives and offer a prayer of thanks to God for their witness. May the Lord of the harvest bless the Church with an abundance of consecrated and holy women and men, whose witness will inspire many to faith in Christ.