‘The Primacy of Faith
93. In proclaiming The Year of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI recalled a similar initiative by Paul VI in 1967 and restated the reasoning which was given at that time, namely, to provide a solemn moment for the whole Church to profess the one faith, a profession which was to be “individual and collective, free, conscious, inward and outward, humble and frank.” Fully aware of the serious difficulties of the time, especially regarding professing the true tenets of the faith and its correct interpretation, Pope Paul VI saw this initiative as a way of prompting a profound interior and missionary renewal within the Church.
94. Pope Benedict XVI shares this perspective in insisting that The Year of Faith is an occasion to ensure that the essential elements of the faith, professed by all believers over the centuries, are re-stated and examined, always in a new manner, so as to bear witness to the faith in a coherent way in an entirely different historical situation from the past. The danger exists that the faith, which establishes a life of communion with God and serves as a doorway into his Church, might not be properly understood in its deepest sense, or not actually taken up and lived by Christians as a means of transforming lives through the great gift of divine sonship and fellowship in the Church.
The Pedagogy of the Faith
100. Faithful to the Lord, from the very beginning of her history, the Church has taken the truth in the biblical accounts and has experienced it in ritual, reunited it in a synthesis as a rule of faith, which is The Symbol of Faith, translated it into a guide for living and lives it in a filial relationship with God. This has been summed up by Pope Benedict XVI in his letter proclaiming The Year of Faith. While quoting from the Apostolic Constitution promulgatingThe Catechism of the Catholic Church, he notes that for the faith to be transmitted, it must be “professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.”
Thus, starting from the fundamental elements taken from Sacred Scripture, ecclesial tradition has created a pedagogy for transmitting the faith, which is developed according to the four major divisions of the Roman Catechism: the Creed, the sacraments, the commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. On one side are the mysteries of faith in God, One-in-Three, as they are professed (The Symbol of the Faith) and celebrated (sacraments); and on the other, human life in conformity with that faith (a faith which becomes operative through love) which is realized in a Christian way of life (the Decalogue) and filial prayer (Our Father). Today, these four general headings serve as the general format for The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
121. The Year of Faith’s invitation to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the Only Saviour of the World, is a beneficial opportunity — not to be left unheeded — for each baptized person and entire Christian communities to be the branch which, bearing fruit, is pruned so that “it may bear more fruit” (Jn 15:2), and able to enrich the world and people’s lives with the gifts of a new life formed by the radical newness of the Resurrection. In freely submitting oneself to the Holy Spirit, a person’s thoughts, affections, mentality and conduct are gradually purified and transformed in a way which is never fully completed in this earthly life. This “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6) now becomes the new standard for understanding and action, changing every aspect of a person’s life (cf. Eph 4:20-29) and bearing new fruits.’