My Highlights and Notes from Lumen Fidei (Part 1)

I finished reading Lumen Fidei a couple days ago and I really enjoyed it.  Pope Francis’ and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s encyclical was a well-articulated diagnosis of the state of faith in the world, today.  Maybe at some point I will write more about it, but for now I will just put down my highlights and notes (in bold & italics) as I read through the 80-page encyclical:

Lumen Fidei and Pope Francis
Lumen Fidei and Pope Francis

… humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights… (LF 3)

The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.  A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. (LF 4)

… [a dialogue between] the Roman prefect Rusticus and a Christian named Hierax: “‘Where are your parents?’, the judge asked the martyr.  He replied: ‘Our true father is Christ, and our mother is faith in him'”.  (LF 5)

The Church never takes faith for granted, but knows that this gift of God needs to be nourished and reinforced so that it can continue to guide her pilgrim way.  (LF 6) [My note: That is why the Sacraments are needed.]

Faith is linked to hearing. (LF 8)

God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him. (LF 8) [My note: if God is the God of a person, then faith needs to be transmitted by persons.]

Faith understands that something so apparently ephemeral and fleeting as a word, when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable, guaranteeing the continuity of our journey through history.  (LF 10)  [My note: I can trust in God’s word.]

God ties his promise to that aspect of human life which has always appeared most “full of promise”, namely, parenthood…  (LF 11)

… his [Abraham’s] life is not the product of non-being or chance, but the fruit of a personal call and a personal love.  (LF 11)  [My note: This is true of our lives as well.]

Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey.  (LF 12)

God’s love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way (cf. Dt 1:31).  (LF 12)

… the light of faith is linked to concrete life-stories, to the grateful remembrance of God’s mighty deeds and the progressive fulfilment of his promises.  (LF 12)  [My note: Much like God fulfilling the prayers in my life (i.e. marriage, first child, an international career, etc.)]

The history of Israel also shows us the temptation of unbelief to which the people yielded more than once.  (LF 13)  [My note: we can learn from our elder brothers in the faith.]

In place of faith in God, it seems better to worship an idol, into whose face we can look directly and whose origin we know, because it is the work of our own hands.  (LF 13)

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands.  Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants.  (LF 13)  [My note: all of paragraph 13 is a beautiful diagnosis of our spiritual condition.]

Here mediation is not an obstacle, but an opening: through our encounter with others, our gaze rises to a truth greater than ourselves.  (LF 14)  [My note: this is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so powerful.]

On the basis of an individualistic and narrow conception of conscience one cannot appreciate the significance of mediation, this capacity to participate in the vision of another, this shared knowledge which is the knowledge proper to love.  (LF 14)

… the patriarchs were saved by faith, not faith in Chris who had come but in Christ who was yet to come, a faith pressing towards the future of Jesus.  (LF 15)

The history of Jesus is the complete manifestation of God’s reliability.  (LF 15)

The word which God speaks to us in Jesus is not simply one word among many, but his eternal Word (cf Heb 1:1-2).  (LF 15)  [My note: what God wants to tell us is so complicated, so difficult for us to hear, that he gave us a whole person as the message — Jesus is not the messenger, he IS the message.]

If laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest proof of love (cf. Jn 15:13), Jesus offered his own life for all, even for his enemies, to transform their hearts.  (LF 16)

CNS STORY: ‘Lumen Fidei’ at a glance

If you don’t have the time to read Pope Francis’ new encyclical, then here are the Cliff Notes:

Sermon on the Feast of St. Thomas

This is a sermon given by St. Gregory the Great (a.k.a Pope Gregory I, 540-604) on the Memorial for St. Thomas the Apostle (which happens to be today, this year).  St. Gregory is a Doctor of the Church and was proclaimed a saint by popular acclaim after his death.  Even the Protestant reformer John Calvin considered him a good Pope.

St. Gregory the Great

Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. He was the only disciple absent; on his return he heard what had happened but refused to believe it. The Lord came a second time; he offered his side for the disbelieving disciple to touch, held out his hands, and showing the scars of his wounds, healed the wound of his disbelief.

Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events? Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed?It was not by chance but in God’s providence. In a marvellous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.

Touching Christ, he cried out: My Lord and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Paul said: Faith is the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It is clear, then, that faith is the proof of what can not be seen. What is seen gives knowledge, not faith. When Thomas saw and touched, why was he told: You have believed because you have seen me? Because what he saw and what he believed were different things. God cannot be seen by mortal man. Thomas saw a human being, whom he acknowledged to be God, and said: My Lord and my God. Seeing, he believed; looking at one who was true man, he cried out that this was God, the God he could not see.

What follows is reason for great joy: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say:  They profess to know God, but they deny him in their works.  Therefore James says: Faith without works is dead.

Sermon by St. Anthony of Padua

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches.” It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.

But the apostles spoke as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech. Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself! For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim the credit for them. The Lord refers to such men and others like them in Jeremiah: So, then, I have a quarrel with the prophets that steal my words from each other. I have a quarrel with the prophets, says the Lord, who have only to move their tongues to utter oracles. I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, who recount them and lead my people astray with their lies and their pretensions. I certainly never sent them or commissioned them, and they serve no good purpose for this people, says the Lord.

We should speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Spirit for ourselves should be that we may bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as he infuses us with his grace, by using our bodily senses in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments. Likewise we shall request that we may be filled with a keen sense of sorrow and with fiery tongues for confessing the faith, so that our deserved reward may be to stand in the blazing splendor of the saints and to look upon the triune God.

It’ll Make Sense After I’m Dead

I read something today from Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book, “Life of Christ,” that was so good, so insightful, that I had to put the book down.  It was a reflection on John, Chapter 3.  I’m not sure why his words cut me so deep.  It was probably because it was so counter-intuitive.  We normally perceive a premature death as a tragedy, as a failure to live one’s life to the fullest.  Yet, Christ’s death was the beginning of understanding.  Nothing He ever said would be as important if it weren’t for His gruesome, tortuous death… His Passion.

“The Passion of Christ” Movie

I want to share the passage from Archbishop Sheen just in case it might affect others the way it affected me.

Continue reading “It’ll Make Sense After I’m Dead”

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