The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).
That’s been the constant cry not only of the Lord’s Apostles, but of every disciple since Day One of the New Testament. Deep faith got Jesus’ attention (see Matthew 8:10) and moved him to perform miracles (see Matthew 9:2 and 22). Shallow faith brought on his rebuke (see Matthew 6:30 and 14:31).
He strongly suggested that our prayers would be answered according to the measure of our faith. “According to your faith be it done to you! … Great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (see Matthew 9:29, 15:28, 17:20).
Then, just in case we missed the message, he spelled it out explicitly: “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22).
So the prayer we raise before we ask anything whatsoever should be that most urgent prayer of the Apostles: Increase our faith!
As if anticipating our prayer, Our Lord has responded through the ministry of his vicar, Pope Benedict XVI, who just announced that the Church will celebrate a “Year of Faith” in 2012, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II, beginning on October 12, 2012, and closing with the feast of Christ the King on November 24, 2013.
It will be a time of special grace. Almighty God guarantees that. And it touches in a special way on the work we do at the St. Paul Center.
Pope Benedict recently explained to the bishops how to make this Year of Faith a unique “occasion for enabling the faithful to rediscover and to deepen their faith in the Savior”:
“This meeting with Christ must be solidly rooted in openness to and meditation on the Word of God. The Scriptures must have a central place in the life of the Church and of each Christian. Hence, I encourage you to help them to rediscover Scripture as a source of constant renewal, so that it may unify the daily lives of the faithful and be ever more at the heart of every ecclesial activity.”
Where does our faith set down its deepest roots? In Christ, the Word Incarnate, of course, and it is Christ we encounter on every page of the Sacred Scriptures, the Word Inspired. So we are uniting our energies with the Holy Father’s intention in order to help Scripture take a “central place” in the life of every Catholic and be a “source of constant renewal.”
In order to enter into the joy and excitement of this Year of Faith, the St. Paul Center will be making our first pilgrimage ever – in the footsteps of our patron, St. Paul – to the Mediterranean lands of Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Berea, Thessalonika, and Rome!
We will also be expanding our Journey Through Scripture programs this year, in the run-up to the Year of Faith. Likewise, we’re sponsoring many conferences throughout the country. That’s why we’re doing all these things in addition to our usual work.
“Increase our faith!” Let’s pledge now to pray that prayer many times this year. When you say it, please offer it now and then on my behalf – and on behalf of all my colleagues at the St. Paul Center.
Let me make another special plea at the beginning of 2012, which promises to be a signal year in the Church’s “new evangelization.” Please consider stepping out in faith and increasing the support you give us. I know these are difficult times. They have been especially hard for those working in the Church’s apostolate. If you’re praying for us — I thank you! — and I ask you to please pray more. If you’re supporting us financially — I thank you! — and I beg you to think about an increase. If you’re offering hardships for us, I won’t ask you to suffer any more! But I’ll thank you most of all.
I am grateful for all the support you give to me and my colleagues. You are an answer to prayer. You increase my faith daily. Let me know how I can better increase yours.