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33 Days to Morning Glory

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Thank You, Pope Benedict XVI!

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By Kelly Wahlquist (Oct 12, 2012)
At a time when the world is drowning in a tsunami of secularism, Pope Benedict XVI, our spiritual lifeguard, has come to our rescue with the Year of Faith.

The Year of Faith is the Pope's attempt to lead us out of a swirling abyss of spiritual death to the place of new life. He is leading us to the ultimate friendship, a friendship with Christ —a relationship that gives us life in fullness. In doing so, he assures us that this monumental time in Church history "will be a moment of grace and commitment for an ever fuller conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in him and to proclaim him with joy to the people of our time."

But how do we do that? How do we convert ourselves to Christ? How do we strengthen our faith? How do we proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time?

One Synod, Two Key Topics
Luckily, these questions are not only on the heart of the Vicar of Christ but also on the minds of many chosen by Our Lord to lead souls to safety, to what we were created for: union with the Holy Trinity. Most prominently, these questions will permeate the walls of the Vatican at the 13th Ordinary Synod of Bishops, currently under way in Rome. The synod will discuss two topics: "the New Evangelization" and the "Transmission of the Christian Faith." They will also be the topics of discussion in committees at every diocese, groups at a multitude of parishes, various apostolates and ministries, and hopefully, at many dinner tables.

From these great discussions will come a plethora of plans to address the questions of conversion, catechesis, and evangelization. How blessed are we, a Church whose main purpose is to evangelize, to be witnessing an excitement and passion to implement plans to proclaim Christ to all peoples.

On Oct. 4, 2012, the Holy Father gave us the best possible example for following God's will and bringing Christ to the world. He gave us the example of the one who placed her entire being at the disposal of God's will, becoming the "place" of his presence, a "place" of dwelling for the Son of God, as he entrusted the Year of Faith to the Blessed Mother.

'Hearts Afire' Program Answers the Call
With the example of Our Lady and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the principle agent of evangelization, many wonderful apostolates are offering opportunities to renew and even begin our friendship with the Lord. For example, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are offering a program that answers the call to conversion and catechesis and prepares one to share his faith joyfully with confidence and hope.

Understanding that first we are called to conversion, the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization begin with the one who was completely transformed by Christ, that is, His mother. On an individual or group basis, the program does that which the Holy Father did for the Church, placing us in the hands of Mary.

Hearts Afire begins with "33 Days to Morning Glory: A Preparation for Marian Consecration," which participants entrust their lives to Mary. The retreat essentially is an update of St. Louis de Montfort's classic Marian consecration, revamped for today's hurried lives.

Another example for the Year of Faith from the Hearts Afire program is Fr. Michael Gaitley's book, The One Thing is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything. This book is the culmination of 15 years of teachings by some of today's best Catholic philosophers and theologians. The book is not a scholarly or academic read. Rather, it makes deep theology accessible to everyday Catholics. It lays the foundation, explaining the theology and philosophy that hold up the Catechism of the Catholic Church in an easy to comprehend way. It engages the reader in a love and appreciation for "things" they thought beyond their comprehension: the Catechism, the documents of Vatican II, the philosophical writings of Blesseds John Paul II and John Henry Newman, and the theological concepts of St. Thomas Aquinas. It makes what is unknown to many, familiar to some, and forgotten to a multitude appear in a way that's graspable and relevant.

An Opportunity to Say 'Yes'
Falling on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Year of Faith is an opportunity to give our "yes" to the mission of the Church, to experience conversion, be re-catechized, and prepared to evangelize the Risen Christ with joy. It is a chance for the faithful to encounter a Christ through prayer, Sacred Scripture, and the sacraments.

The Year of Faith is a call to catechesis, a call to the faithful to know and live the Catechism. Yet, a vast majority of Catholics are unfamiliar with the beauty of this gift given to us as a key to the roadmap of our spiritual journey to our Heavenly Father.

The Year of Faith is an invitation to learn, live, and love the Church, and her teachings. It is a summons to encounter anew the body of Christ and a call to joyfully embrace the mission of the Church — to communicate truth to the men and women of our time that they might know salvation.

Blessed are we to have a shepherd, the Holy Father, so intent on keeping us safe and feeding us, and blessed are we that so many are answering the call to help convert and catechize the faithful. Now, it's our turn to respond, to convert ourselves to Christ, to strengthen our faith, and to evangelize with the joy of Our Blessed Mother in her Magnificat. May our souls magnify the Lord in this Year of Faith and always.

Kelly Wahlquist is the assistant director of the Evangelization and Development Office for Parish Evangelization for the Association of Marian Helpers in Stockbridge, Mass., where she works for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

She manages and advises for the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization. Visit allheartsafire.org.

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