Year of Faith: A year of formation for transformation
Editor’s note: Throughout the Year of Faith, Father Christopher Seibt has offered a series of columns based on the reflection series “Catholicism Today” that he gave during First Friday devotions at St. James Church in Syracuse while on pastoral year. This is the final column in the series.
As this Year of Faith draws to a close, and with it this series of short reflections on our Catholic faith, it is important to ask ourselves two questions: One, what have we accomplished? And two, where do we go from here? At the beginning of the Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called us all to “rediscover the journey of faith” (Porta Fidei, 2). This journey began at our baptism when we embraced a whole new life in Christ; a life committed to his Church, to being disciples who proclaim the Gospel by how we live and in what we say. For us, this involves the great treasures of our faith: the Scriptures and our Catholic Tradition.
As we strive to live lives in Christ in real and concrete ways, you and I recognize that we are always in need of continual formation in the gift of faith that we have received from the Lord. This continual formation was the point of “Back to Basics: Faith from the Heart.” By reflecting on the four main parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we reacquainted ourselves with what the Church teaches about: (1) the faith that we profess in the Creed, (2) the faith that we celebrate in the liturgy and sacraments of the Church, (3) the faith that we live out by following the moral teachings of the Church and the Ten Commandments and (4) the faith that we ground in a personal and vital relationship with God by living a life of prayer.
Without continually going back to the basics of our faith we sometimes forget that our mission is his mission and not our own. Or we may even begin to view faith simply as an inspirational message, emotional experience or personal story about ourselves that we share. But when we take a step back and revisit the fundamentals of our faith we are better able to rediscover — in a new and beautiful way — that faith is, in fact, a gift from God. And this gift is ultimately the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ whom we encounter through his Church. This Year of Faith, along with these reflections and the other opportunities provided during this year, reminded us of this, of what faith really is. Through them we were formed. We rediscovered the journey of faith and recommitted ourselves to continue to travel it wholeheartedly, accepting all of the challenges that it brings and embracing all of the joys that it offers.
So, where do we go from here? Formation is a continual process for each of us. Ultimately, it leads to our own transformation and to the transformation of our culture and of our world. When we commit ourselves to taking the time to learn and live out our faith, to be formed in it and by it — by reading the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and various documents of the Church, particularly those that were issued by the Second Vatican Council, and by encountering Christ in frequent celebrations of the sacraments, in prayer and in our service to those who are in need, especially the poor — we open ourselves up to the possibility of being transformed more and more into Christ. Then what happened for St. Paul happens to us, and it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gal 2:20). And like the disciples, we, too, go forth proclaiming all that we have heard and seen, and all that we have experienced, by how we live and in what we say.
This Year of Faith and all that it did both to form and transform us was simply the beginning. So too was this series, “Back to Basics.” It was a brief overview and reminder of the great treasures of our Catholic faith. There is so much more to learn and live. Likewise, there is so much more to share. That is what the New Evangelization is all about. It is our time and our turn to do what the disciples and all those who came after them did: hand on the faith that we have received. The Year of Faith formed us to be transformed and now this time of New Evangelization calls each of us, in turn, to go out forming others so that they too may be transformed into Christ through his Church.
Thank you for joining me throughout this Year of Faith. It has been a privilege to share these reflections with you. May God bless each of us as we go forth to our culture and to our world with confidence, bringing with us the great treasure that we possess, our Catholic faith, a faith that forms, a faith that transforms and, most importantly, a faith that saves.
Father Christopher Seibt is a priest for the Diocese of Syracuse. He was ordained on June 1, 2013 and is currently continuing his studies in sacramental theology at the Catholic University of America.