“The door of faith is always open to us (Acts 14:27) …” With these words, Pope Benedict XVI began his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, announcing the Year of Faith. The Year of Faith, he wrote, was to begin Oct. 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will conclude at 2 p.m., Nov. 24, 2013, the Feast of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Pope Benedict wrote that he had spoken for a long time of the need for Christians to rediscover the journey of faith. People of faith, he said, still ask the questions his listeners asked of Jesus; “‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ (Jn 6:28). We know Jesus’ reply: ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent’” (Jn 6:29). The way to salvation, the pope said, is through Jesus Christ.
The Year of Faith is multi-faceted, and each diocese around the world has the capacity to plan its own liturgical and academic components in accordance with the Holy Father’s instructions. In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn published his Decree and Observances of the Year of Faith in the Jan. 11 issue of The Catholic Key, the weekend of the Jan. 13 Feast of the Baptism of Jesus.
Baptism and Reconciliation are the two major themes of the Year of Faith. Baptism, Bishop Finn explained in his Decree, is the beginning of our life in Christ and the moment when we receive the gift of supernatural faith. That weekend, parish priests and deacons invited all present at Masses to renew their Baptismal promises in place of the Creed, and in so doing, draw closer to Christ.
The fourth Sunday of Lent, March 10, has been set aside for another Baptismal renewal. On that day, each person is encouraged to make their own special pilgrimage to the church of their baptism. Special prayer cards will be supplied by the Diocese so that individuals may renew their baptismal promises for the Year of Faith. Those persons whose baptismal church has closed, or is too far away to travel to in a short time, may renew their baptismal promises at their parish church or at either of the two Cathedrals.
The bishop also announced that those making the pilgrimage to renew their baptismal promises, having fulfilled certain conditions, may receive a plenary indulgence in remission of the temporal punishment for their sins, or offer it for a soul in purgatory. The conditions are that the individual is truly repentant, has received the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, and prays for the intentions of the Holy Father.
An indulgence, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin (CCC no. 1471).” Indulgences may be gained for the individual or to apply to the dead.
There were to be two Diocesan Penance services, one during Advent and the other during Lent. The Advent Penance service was held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in St. Joseph. The Lenten service will be at 7 p.m., March 20, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. Parishes around the Diocese will work within their Deanery to schedule penance services.
Individuals may also receive indulgences every time they make a pilgrimage to a Cathedral Church, a sacred place designated by the local Ordinary (bishop) for the Year of Faith and participate in some sacred function or at least pause in recollection for a suitable length of time with devout meditation, concluding the meditation with the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles or Patrons.
In this diocese those sacred places are:
• The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th Street, Kansas City;
• The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, 519 N. 10th Street, St. Joseph;
• The Abbey Basilica of Conception Abbey, 37174 State Highway VV, Conception;
• MIR House of Prayer, 6492 N.E. State Route 6, St. Joseph;
• Our Lady of Good Counsel, Diocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy, 3934 Washington, Kansas City;
• Holy Rosary Church, 610 S. 4th Street, Clinton;
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, (Redemptorist) Church, 3333 Broadway, Kansas City, and
• The Franciscan Prayer Center, 2100 N. Noland Road, Independence.
Academically, individuals may receive indulgences for taking courses offered by the Bishop Helmsing Institute, held either in a church or other suitable site. The pope encouraged the study of the texts of the Second Vatican Council, saying that understanding the texts of Vatican II “can be and can become increasingly powerful for the necessary renewal of the Church.”
The courses offered include Spiritual Life, (Feb. – March 2013) six sections, tuition free; Vatican Council II seminar, April 27 at the Catholic Center, 20 W. 9th Street, Kansas City, tuition free; Vatican Council II course, 4 weeks (July 2013), St. Therese North, 7207 NW Highway 9, Kansas City; Essential Catholicism, (Sept. 2013) six sections, tuition free; Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church seminar, Sept 28, The Catholic Center, tuition free; Essential Catholicism II, (October), six sections; Liturgy and Sacraments I, September, six sections; Liturgy and Sacraments II, October, six sections; Our Life in Christ, October, six sections, tuition free, and Biblical Foundations, November, six sections.
The pope also said the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “precious, indispensable tool to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of our faith,” a tool that is real, not theory, and provides real support for the faith. For course registration and more information, visit mybhi.org.
Vice Chancellor Claude Sasso, PhD, said that in order for the indulgence, whether partial or plenary, to be fully granted, an individual must fulfill the requirements of true penitence and receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion at Mass within 20 days before or after completion of other conditions. It is presumed that an individual receiving a plenary indulgence gives up all attachment to sin. “This is no easy task,” Dr. Sasso said, “since Scripture says the just man falls seven times a day.”
There will be six special diocesan Masses to be celebrated by Bishop Finn in late summer and fall. These special Masses will make use of the Mass for the New Evangelization, prepared and released by the Vatican in both English and Spanish, for the Year of Faith. As the pope wrote, “It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today, as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth. (Matthew 28:19).” All the liturgies will begin at 2 p.m.
• Aug. 11, Conception Abbey Basilica Church, 37174 State Highway VV, Conception, for Catholics in the northern part of the diocese.
• July 14, Immaculate Conception Church, 107 N. 18th Street, Lexington, for Catholics in the eastern part of the diocese.
• July 28, Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, 519 N. 10th Street, St. Joseph, for the St. Joseph area of the diocese.
• Aug. 18, St. Sabina Church, 700 Trevis, Belton, in Spanish for the Hispanic community,
• Sept. 29, Holy Rosary Church, 610 S. 4th Street, Clinton, for the southern part of the diocese.
• Nov. 24, the Feast of Christ the King, the Closing Mass for the diocese for the Year of Faith, with a renewal of Baptismal promises, will be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Kansas City.
For additional information about the Mass for the New Evangelization, contact Deacon Ralph Wehner, Director, Office of Sacred Worship, firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Beyers, Director of Music, email@example.com.
In addition, the faithful may obtain indulgences every time they, on days determined by Bishop Finn or the local Ordinary, for the Year of Faith, in any sacred place, take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith, the Creed. These days include:
• All solemnities of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary;
• Feasts of the Holy Apostles;
• Feast of St. John Francis Regis, a patron of the diocese, June 16, 2013;
• Feasts of St. Joseph, a principal patron of the diocese, March 19 and May 1, 2013;
• Diocesan Masses for the Year of Faith, celebrated by the Bishop.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic, renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the World. Faith working through Love (Galatians 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of a (person’s) life.)