The start of the Year of Faith is fast approaching, and movements and new communities are already preparing for the programmes and occasions for study in which they will be involved. This includes the organisation of events, but most of all it is in their presence with their respective charisms in providing opportunities for people to develop a sound and solid Christian faith.
This was the agreement that emerged from the annual meeting of delegates from international movements and new communities that took place on 27 June 2012 in the aula magna at the Pontifical Council for the Laity offices. Over sixty people were present representing thirty two organisations.
Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko said in his greeting to the delegates: “These new charisms are a very precious treasure that has emerged from the Second Vatican Council with its renewed ecclesiology and theology of the laity. Even though some movements were born earlier, it is the Council that gives us a true understanding of the ecclesiological significance of these movements. For this reason, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, which the Year of Faith is celebrating, is particularly important for us”.
The Cardinal spoke of the crisis of faith that is taking place in contemporary Western society. Pope Benedict XVI is a close observer of this who can identify the causes and foresee the awful consequences.
In this context, the Year of Faith “is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord” (Porta Fidei, no. 6). It is an opportunity to think again about our faith, and to offer it anew to those who have abandoned it.
What is the position of movements and communities in this regard? Cardinal Ryłko, speaking from the “observatory” of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the “common home” of movements and new communities, outlined some typical characteristics of these new organisations that make them places for the discovery of faith. In many cases, their course of study begins with an encounter with God, a real conversion. The aspect of belonging totally which encompasses one’s whole life and person is important. It brings about unity between faith and life. Moreover, there is a “community factor” which is decisive. The cardinal pointed out that “a Christian alone nowadays is in danger of getting lost and of being crushed by so many anti-evangelisation messages”.
With all the newness that these new organisations represent, the cardinal reminded those present not to take anything for granted. “No method is guaranteed to succeed. Our freedom is always there and part of the story. Behind the great results of the courageous missionary faith that you bring, there must always be the major task of prayer, of listening to the word of God”.
In the interventions of those present it could be seen that they were clear about what is needed for the people of today to rediscover the genuine sources of faith. Initiatives presented to the meeting by movements and new communities concentrated less on events and celebrations and more on studying and drawing from what has already been done. They are doing this by taking into account the theme of the Year of Faith, each group according to their charism and method. Some will study Vatican II documents and include the Catechism of the Catholic Church in their regular training programmes. Others are encouraging prayer meetings and vigils, “schools of faith” or special retreats for those approaching the faith. Yet others will undertake special missions in schools and workplaces and organise gatherings for witnessing.
For the vigil of Pentecost (18 May 2013) the Year of faith calendar includes a prayer vigil in Saint Peter’s Square with movements and new communities. Cardinal Ryłko assured those present that they would be kept informed about the event so that all groups would be involved.