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 October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Asia Pacific

MASSIVE FAILURE - Good money after bad in Obama opium strategy Watch

Image of Afghan farmers work their fields, just as they have since the time of Alexander the Great.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Despite American and Coalition expenditures in Afghanistan, that country has produced a record crop of opium. The crop is important because it is often used to finance extremism in the far-flung region. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The United Nations Office on ... continue reading


Six times as many people are executed in China as the rest of the world COMBINED Watch

Image of New figures show that China may execute six times as many people as the rest of the world combined.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based human rights group, said that China executed 2,400 prisoners last year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Chinese government is sensitive about their executions, though the number of executed prisoners has decreased ... continue reading


How would you like to handle acid with your bare hands? For many in Bangladesh, this is their only option Watch

Image of A Bangladesh man handling toxic material without any protective equipment.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is a dark side in the growing labor sector of Bangladesh, one that makes workers look decades older than they are. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sharif Hossain is just one of the workers affected. The 35-year-old has worked in the city of Old Dhaka's ... continue reading


New Indonesian president promises a 'people-centric' government Watch

Image of Indonesia's new president, Joko Widodo, during his inaugural parade.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Indonesia got a new president, Joko Widodo, a 53-year-old man who was sworn in on October 20 after Bambang Yudhoyono stepped down after having served two five-year terms. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The man from the Javan slums already has a plan for his ... continue reading


Even state-recognized church in China targeted for persecution Watch

Image of The Chinese government has infringed upon the freedom of its citizens, including gross violations of human rights and targeting churches.

By CNA/EWTN News

The state of religious freedom in China is moving from bad to worse, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), responding to a new report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. (CNA/EWTN News) - "There's a huge gulf now" between China and the Catholic ... continue reading


Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death by hanging on blasphemy charges Watch

Image of In spite of international outrage and hundreds of thousands of people signing a petition for her release, Asia Bibi lost an appeal to have her sentence overturned. She now faces death by hanging.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Pakistani Christian woman has been sentenced to death by hanging following accusations that she made blasphemous comments about the prophet Mohammed. While harvesting berries in 2009, 46-year-old Asia Bibi got into a fight with a group of Muslim women who ... continue reading


Persecuted Indonesian Christians worship in strip mall Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Evangelical Christian Church in Bekasi, Indonesia is held in a most unusual place. Driven from traditional houses of worship on account of hardline Islamists, many Christians here have taken to worshiping in out-of-the-way places, such as this strip mall.  LOS ... continue reading


It's getting harder to be a Christian in Indonesia - hardline Muslims prevent the opening of churches, burn others Watch

Image of Indonesian Muslims demonstrate against Christians on Christmas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christians in Indonesia are facing increasing persecution as hardline Muslims gain more influence in government. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country and is moving increasingly towards Sharia law. JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Catholic Online) - Indonesia is the ... continue reading


Aware of Islamic State, Filipinos pray daily for Pope Francis' safety during January visit Watch

Image of General Gregorio Catapang Jr. asked in a statement that all Catholic service members to also pray a rosary daily for the Pope's safety when he visits the Philippines from January 15 to 19.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Gregorio Catapang Jr. asked in a statement that all Catholic service members to also pray a rosary daily for the Pope's safety when he visits the Philippines from January 15 to 19. Military and government ... continue reading


Jesuit social activists meet to ask -- have we failed the poor? Watch

Image of Secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace Teesta Setalvad drew the Jesuits' attention to the emerging socio-political situation in India that imperils Dalits, Adivasis and minorities.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recent convention of Jesuits engaged in social work in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka met in Bhopal. The question asked was, following decades of work, have we failed the poor? Much remains to be done, and a clear, ... 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, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2014 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... 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