Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally

8/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Thus, the transmission of the faith, from the magisterium to the catechist, from parish priest to the parents in the family, from theologians to the teachers in the schools, is a dynamic missionary responsibility for everyone in the present time and in every context.

Lumen Fidei categorically states that faith illuminating life means Christ affecting our life and our convictions. Indeed a christification of our life and commitments, convictions and values are called for. It is in this sense, "Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us." (Cf. Chapter 1, no. 20.) The encyclical is clear: What is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion

Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Gorakhpur in North India and is currently a  professor of Dogmatic Theology at St Joseph's Regional Seminary, Allahabad, India, affiliated with the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Gorakhpur in North India and is currently a professor of Dogmatic Theology at St Joseph's Regional Seminary, Allahabad, India, affiliated with the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

Highlights

By Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Lumen Fidei, Light of Faith, growth, holiness, living faith, piety, Christian living, ALLAHABAD, India, Gorakhpur, St Joseph's Regional Seminary, Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally


ALLAHABAD, India (Catholic Online) - Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 29 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in the year 2013, the first encyclical letter of the pontificate of Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei - Light of Faith - serves as both a catechetical and missionary boost to Catholic Christian faith at a time when faith, church life, as well as church structures and authorities, - are being called into question. Sometimes, the questioning itself comes from the dichotomies each contains and carries as both a strength and a weakness.

One must not forget that this papal encyclical letter has a time reference and a context. That is,  some of the things apparently more negative (humanly speaking) which are happening around us, such as; the various church scandals and their aggressive highlighting by the media, the surprising exit of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of a new Pope. These are often greeted with cautious enthusiasm as well as anxiety etc. In fact, the heart of the message which Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) communicates provides an assurance that both consoles and consolidates the faith community by calling its attention towards a genuine awareness of the gift of faith- who is Christ Jesus Himself.

Pope Francis humorously opined that this encyclical is a work of 'four hands'. This indicated that it contains content from the thoughts of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI regarding the already set context of the golden jubilee of the Second Vatican Council and the Year of Faith which was already inaugurated. In addition, it has a serial and organic connection to the encyclicals of Benedict XVI - Deus Caritas est and Spe Salvi. In addition, the letter offers the characteristically down to earth teaching style of the present Pope Francis as he infuses the encyclical with his peculiar way of connecting the teaching to the heart of the people and not simply to the head of the people. Even though both are equally important!

The encyclical is brief in length. It has four chapters (Chapter I We have believed in love, cf. 1 Jn 4: 16, Chapter II Unless you believe, you will not receive, (cf. Is 7: 9) Chapter III:  I delivered to you what I also received, (cf 1 Cor 15: 3),  Chapter IV: God prepares a city for them, (cf Heb 11: 16) with a striking introduction that  draws from the sources of two diametrically opposed characters from history, as regards their convictions on faith- namely Justin Martyr and the german atheist philosopher Nietzsche. While the former stands for the apologetic acceptance of the faith- often represented by practicing Christians, the latter stands for the contemporary challenges and questions to the faith and to God.

This presentation, set against the bedrock of the gospel St John, is, for me, the most relevant way of shaking pious Christians out of their slumber in the context of the year of faith. By that, I refer to some who are often overjoyed when things go right in the Church and who become overanxious and, at times,even  self-righteous, when scandals mire the Church. The four titles of the chapters stand out as four four fundamental statements on faith as well as four directions and dimensions by which - and in which -  a Catholic Christian believer has to approach the matter of faith in his/her time and context. The encyclical answers, convincingly and candidly, the matter of faith. That is why I pointed out in the beginning its catechetical nature.  

Hence, Lumen Fidei teaches: Christian faith is centred on Christ; it is the confession that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead (cf. Rom 10:9), Cf. Chapter 1, no. 15. What does then love mean for a Christian? Again the encyclical declares: Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God's tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ's passion, death and resurrection. Thus the encyclical has an emphatic Christological centrality as regards faith and lover or charity.

This is the reason that Pope Benedict XVI had already taught that faith and charity go hand in hand. Charity is not thus an Italian dressing on a yummy, scrummy salad. Therefore, social systems and political values are all affected by and aided by Christian heritage and the Church and its structures, including the personal and family life of a Christian. All are challenged by the encyclical. It calls us all to an examination of conscience as to the existence of the dichotomy between faith and charity in our own lives.

The second Chapter, with a reference to the verse from Isaiah, offers a charismatic approach and orientation to faith. Without faith we cannot see God's acts and the power of God in our own life. It also has an opening to the hitherto existing political systems and rational and scientific achievements and searches happening in our age. It offers an uncanny, interreligious richness when it states: God is light and he can be found also by those who seek him with a sincere heart. (Cf chapter 2, no. 35.)

In other words, the Christian faith does not run away or retreat in the face of the political and scientific issues and challenges of the age. In fact, in terms of human welfare and the meaning of life, Christian faith is seen as the mystery of Christ Jesus's involvement in the creation and human pilgrimage of life and its destiny. Christian faith transformatively contributes to the secular goals set by rational and scientific systems and thought. It also daringly corrects them when they turn upon themselves as idols trying to take the place and plan of God. At the same time, the encyclical serves both as a warning and indicator to theologians to do their duty within the framework of enhancing the faith with respect and sensitivity shown to the faith community and to the teachings of the Church.

Moving further, faith is dealt with as dynamic, situating God and human beings, our hearing and our response. Tradition is not to be seen as a nostalgic remembrance of something outgone and outdated. Rather, it contains a living responsibility of passing itself on to another generation. At the same time, tradition should not become an escapist haven or the refuge of the obscurantist, never ready to respect the present time and its unique cries and challenge.

Hence the encyclical is clear: What is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion. (Cf. Chapter 3, no. 40).

Thus, the transmission of the faith, from the magisterium to the catechist, from parish priest to the parents in the family, from theologians to the teachers in the schools, is a dynamic missionary responsibility for everyone in the present time and in every context.

Characteristic of Pope Francis, the encyclical invites Christians to reflect on the natural end of their faith journey and life not just as heavenly city but also of "building in charity a city based on relationships in which the love of God is laid as a foundation."(Cf. chapter 4, no. 51).

Seen within the context of present day political and economic systems, which have also affected the structures and life style of the Church, the letter calls for making faith sensible and available to those outside of the mainstream of the society. Charity and justice, shown in favour of the suffering and the poor, are, in fact, the very essence of the Christian faith.

Francis offers two striking images and figures which the world and the church easily understand but often refuse to follow, because of the inherent "inconvenience" they present to one's own concept of safety in the world. However, Francis has the guts and authority to present them as challenging the stereotypes of faith which become institutionalized so often in formalism and create a 'culture of appointments' which can present hindrances to access rather than facilitate access to faith.

Lumen Fidei thus categorically states that faith illuminating life means Christ affecting our life and our convictions. Indeed a christification of our life and commitments, convictions and values are called for. It is in this sense, "Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us." (Cf. Chapter 1, no. 20.)

-----

Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Gorakhpur in North India and is currently a  professor of Dogmatic Theology at St Joseph's Regional Seminary, Allahabad, India, affiliated with the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Asia Pacific

There's always the Sun: Bangladesh takes steps to become the 'first solar nation' Watch

Image of The Bangladeshi government aims to provide electricity to all of the country's households by 2021.

By Pantho Rahaman, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Residents of Islampur, a remote village in the northern Bangladeshi district of Naogaon, were stunned one night last summer when the darkness was suddenly illuminated by electric lights coming from a village home. DHAKA, Bangladesh (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


Who will win China's war on women? 33 million more men than women in China Watch

Image of China has the largest disparity between men and women; there are 33 million more men than women in China.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

China's ongoing issue with a growing population and a disparity in the numbers between each gender is only getting worse; as 2014 there were 33 million more men in China than women. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - China's longstanding family restrictions and ... continue reading


India turns on Christians; 2014's wave of religious terror leaves many fearing state-sponsored persecution to come Watch

Image of 2014 saw a wave of violence in India as Hindu nationalists targeted Christians. Five people died and thousands were subjected to violence.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last year was not a great year for Christianity. Persecution and murder were rampant in the Middle East-especially in Syria and Iraq-throughout Africa and even India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2014, India saw a wave of violence towards Christians that ... continue reading


Death of the red dragon? Why China's economic boom is about to bust Watch

Image of One of China's many ghost towns. Built at the height of a massive real estate boom, many Chinese cities and suburbs now lay empty.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Long the boogie man of the United States and the west, China's economic growth has slammed to a halt, hitting its slowest rate since 1990. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The U.S. needn't be afraid of the lurking threat of Chinese economic hegemony, as the Asian ... continue reading


How did President Obama know North Korea was behind the Sony hack? Because we hacked them first! Watch

Image of Access to the Internet is highly limited in North Korea, and only a select few individuals of high rank in the Communist party may access it unfiltered and restricted.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many Internet security experts and firms were quick to question President Barack Obama's claim that North Korea was behind the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in December of 2014, especially so soon after the hacks took place. But the New York Times has ... continue reading


Barbarically appalling death penalty executions revived in Indonesia, starting with two female drug smugglers Watch

Image of Hurting from drug use, Indonesia begins executing death row drug smugglers.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Six drug smugglers were shot dead by firing squads in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest drug market. 40 to 50 people die each day from drugs in Indonesia, according to the National Anti-Narcotic Agency. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Trying to protect the people ... continue reading


In Manilla, Pope Francis condemns mankind for destroying the environment Watch

Image of Pope Francis wore a rain poncho during much of his time in Manila, and left early to avoid an incoming tropic storm.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There's a new voice speaking out on climate change, as Pope Francis entered the ring, calling on mankind to fulfill the charge they were given by God to steward the world and all of creation. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis made his remarks at a ... continue reading


Spread the Reign of Christ Throughout the World! Pope Francis Tells Crowd of 7 Million in the Philippines Watch

Image of May the Santo Nino (Holy Child Jesus) continue to bless the Philippines and may he sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.- Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God's plan for us is, and always has ... continue reading


Jesus is Lord! He Never Lets Us Down! Evangelical Catholic Pope Francis Speaks to Faithful in Taclobban, Philippines Watch

Image of Pope Francis preaches the Good News in Tacloban, Philippines.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I've come to tell you that Jesus is Lord, and he never lets us down. Jesus is there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down. He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all the calamities that we experience. The Lord ... continue reading


Abducted for 24 years! This Chinese family is reunited at last Watch

Image of Sun Bin, reunited with his father Sun Youhong for the first time in 24 years.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Chinese man who was abducted as a toddler back in 1991 has been reunited with his father after 24 years. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sun Bin was taken from his father at a market when he was just four-years-old. He was sold to a family in Jiangsu province on ... continue reading


All Asia Pacific News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
15 This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:22-30
22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 26th, 2015 Image

St. Timothy
January 26: Born at Lystra, Lycaenia, Timothy was the son of a Greek father ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter