On June 29, 2013, in the Year of Faith, when Pope Francis approved the causes for canonization of saints John XIII and John Paul II, he also provided us with the wonderful gift of his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. Only with the light of faith, which is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence, our Holy Father makes clear, can we truly and fully see as we make our way through our journey of life. This faith is not something we create ourselves, as are the many idols of our modern age, he points out, but it is instead “born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us” (Lumen Fidei, 4, 13).
Our Holy Father has explained that the encyclical is the “work of four hands.” By this he means his two hands and those of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who entrusted his work on the first draft to his successor in the Petrine ministry. Here we see graphically demonstrated that, while Francis and Benedict are different people, each with his own particular style and manner, Peter remains Peter and the message remains the same.
As Pope Francis explains, what is proclaimed by the Church does not change because the faith is one, just as the Church is one in unity with one Truth and one Love (Lumen Fidei, 47-48). “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” (Lumen Fidei, 40).
In his first encyclical, our Chief Shepherd has given us splendid spiritual guidance and I hope that we all will read and reflect upon this teaching in this summer of the Year of Faith and beyond. With God’s gift of faith, “we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope” (Lumen Fidei, 7).
Encountering the Light of Faith: Lumen Fidei Online Retreat
The Secretariat for Catechesis has created a six-day online retreat called “Encountering the Light of Faith.” The retreat includes a daily video, available in both English and in Spanish, with an accompanying retreat guide.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis expresses the mind of the Holy See on matters of mounting concern for all of God’s creation. Pope Francis speaks with moral guidance to address the essential link between care for others and care for creation.
This encyclical offers an opportunity for all parish and school catechists to learn and reflect upon this important Church teaching. Familiarity with the encyclical will allow catechists and school teachers to better teach the curriculum indicators that focus on the importance of human dignity and care for the natural world, and the strong link between the two.
This new encyclical is a current and useful practical resource to help catechists and teachers meet the indicators from Forming Disciples for the New Evangelization Curriculum Guide (Grades K-8) and the Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age.
On April 9, 2018, Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation on holiness titled Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad). In this document, Pope Francis shows that holiness is not an impossible task – we, no matter who we are, can achieve holiness in the ordinary moments of our lives. Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar, said, “The pope wants to tell us that holiness is not something else apart from our everyday life, but it is exactly our ordinary existence lived in an extraordinary ways.”
“We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.”
~ Pope Francis
We have developed the following resources to help guide your study of Pope Francis’ exhortation in both your personal life and within your faith community.
- Holiness Is… | 30-Day Prayer Journal: English | Spanish
- Reflection Guide: English | Spanish
- Beatitudes Examination of Conscience: English | Spanish
Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, is of great importance for the understanding and teaching of the Church’s vision for marriage and family life and its pastoral application in our contemporary society and culture.
Amoris Laetitia was issued after years of prayer, consultation and dialogue with bishops and leaders in the Church. The materials below are resources that have been developed by the archdiocese for use by priests, parishes, families, and couples to better understand the exhortation and the practical ways it can be lived out.
This broad and detailed pastoral plan is the first of its kind in implementing Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia at the parish level. The pastoral plan considers the challenges that individuals, couples and families encounter today in a highly secularized culture, and encourages parishes to serve as welcoming places for all, particularly those who might be disillusioned or disaffected by contemporary society. In this document, all individuals, couples and families are encouraged to participate in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Washington. The pastoral plan is available in both English and in Spanish.