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Companion to Faith Ways to live the Year of Faith

by Rev Nick Donnelly

All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY publishers to the holy see

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Contents Something marvellous is going to happen . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Twelve films you really must see . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Twelve books you really must read . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Twelve prayers for the Year of Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Twelve modern Catholics and modern saints you should know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Twelve paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church you should read . . . . . . . . . . 54 Twelve steps to make a simple Rule of Life . . . . . . . . . 61 Twelve blogs you’ll find really interesting . . . . . . . . . . 66 Twelve websites you’ll find really useful . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Twelve scientists you should know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Twelve works of art you really should see . . . . . . . . . . 79 Twelve devotions you should try . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Twelve things you could try during the Year of Faith . . 92 All rights reserved. First published 2012 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY Tel: 020 7640 0042 Fax: 020 7640 0046. Copyright © 2012 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society. ISBN: 978 1 86082 817 1 Inside images: Page 80: The Annunciation by Angelico, Fra (Guido di Pietro) © Museo Diocesano, Cortona, italy / Alinari / The Bridgeman Art Library. Page 82: Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio © Alinari Archives/CORBIS. Page 84: Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio © The National Gallery, London/Corbis.

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Something marvellous is going to happen Something marvellous is happening to you, whether you’ve known it all your life or you’re just discovering it now for the first time. God is offering you a wonderful gift that gives you access to his own divine life, a gift that enables you to “share in the good things of God that utterly exceed the intelligence of the human mind”. (First Vatican Council). This marvellous gift is faith. Through this gift of faith the profound mysteries of divine life expressed in the doctrines of the Catholic Faith become living, personal realities in our lives - the Most Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, grace and sin, sacraments and the Church, death and eternal life are disclosed to us as the fundamental dimensions of our existence. Contrary to what atheists claim, faith is not a human invention or fancy of the imagination, but a divine gift without which we could have no knowledge of God and without which a personal relationship with him would be beyond our grasp. Maybe you’ve been a Catholic all your life, or maybe this is the first Catholic literature you’ve ever read, but the one thing we all have in common is that God constantly offers us the gift of faith, drawing us deeper into knowledge

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and experience of his life which exceeds anything we can conceive or imagine. In his Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict writes: Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God. The giving of assent implies that, when we believe, we freely accept the whole mystery of faith, because the guarantor of its truth is God who reveals himself and allows us to know his mystery of love. (Porta Fidei, 10) A story about the journey of faith Edith Stein was a Jewish philosopher who had rejected the idea of faith in reaction to the shock of her father’s death. However, Edith’s search for truth as a philosopher eventually led her back to the possibility of faith. After her conversion to Catholicism, she became a Carmelite nun, and was murdered in Auschwitz Extermination Camp in 1942 because she was a Jew. Edith Stein was canonised a saint in 1998. Six years before her death, Edith wrote this about the gift and journey of her own faith. (From: S. M. Batzdorff, Edith Stein: Selected Writings, p.59.)

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My Lord, God, you have led me by a long, dark path, rocky and hard. Often my strength threatened to fail me.

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I almost lost all hope of seeing the light. But when my heart grew numb with deepest grief, a clear star rose for me. Steadfast it guided me - I followed, at first reluctant, but more confidently later. At last I stood at Church’s gate. It opened. I sought admission. From your priest’s mouth your blessing greets me. Within me stars are strung like pearls… your goodness allows them to illuminate my path to You. They lead me on. The secret which I had to keep in hiding deep in my heart, now I can shout it out: I believe - I profess! The priest accompanies me to the altar: I bend my face Holy water flows over my head. For Edith Stein faith was the unexpected gift of a clear star rising out of the darkness of life’s suffering, leading her to the Catholic Church. As Edith knew, true faith leads to the Church, which she describes as the “gate” to the path that leads to God. It is only once we have passed through the gate of the Church that we are able to shout out, with Edith, “I believe - I profess” and receive the sacrament of faith, Baptism, “Holy water flows over my head”. Pope Benedict’s letter introducing the Year of Faith is called Porta Fidei, which means the “Door of Faith”. The

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Holy Father, like Edith Stein, sees faith as a door or gate though which we enter onto our journey to God: The “door of faith” (Ac 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rm 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus… (Porta Fidei, 1) We walk by faith, not by sight So far we have looked as faith as light, as a clear star rising out of life’s suffering, as a gate that leads to our encounter with the light of Christ, but faith can also be an encounter with darkness. Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”; we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part”. Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church (henceforth CCC) 164)

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The Gospels make clear Jesus’s urging of the apostles to realise that the path of faith can be difficult (Mt 16:21-23) and his warning about the ever-present danger of losing faith during times of temptation: ‘“Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers’.” (Lk 22:32) Jesus questions every generation of Christians, he questions each one of us, concerning the true state of our faith in him, “‘But, when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’” (Lk 18:8) A story about the journey of faith Thérèse Martin was a fifteen year old French girl who followed two of her sisters into the Carmel of Lisieux. Thérèse became a Carmelite nun and died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. Her spiritual autobiography, The Story of a Soul, spread far and wide devotion to her “little way” of simplicity, abandonment to God and the accomplishment of small duties as a way to God. Miracles, requests granted and popular devotion subsequent to her death led to her canonisation in 1925. Thérèse suffered terribly from the lung disease tuberculosis, having to fight for every breath. But worse still, she recounts her own temptations against faith during her prolonged death:

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I may perhaps appear to you to be exaggerating my trial. In fact, if you are judging according to sentiments I express in my little poems composed this year, I must appear to you as a soul filled with consolations and one for whom the veil of faith is almost torn aside; and yet it is no longer a veil for me, it is a wall which reaches right up to the heavens and covers the starry firmament‌ When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and of the eternal possession of God, I feel no joy in this, for I sing simply what I want to believe. He permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of Heaven, up till then so sweet for me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment. One would have to travel through this dark tunnel to understand its darkness. The fog which surrounds me becomes more dense; it penetrates my soul and envelops it in such a way that it is impossible to discover within it the sweet image of my Fatherland; everything has disappeared. The darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me: “You are dreaming about the light, you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the creator of all these marvels; you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound,

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the night of nothingness.” I don’t want to write any longer about it; I fear I might blaspheme; I fear even that I have already said too much. May God forgive me! He knows how I try to live my faith, even though it affords me no consolation. I have made more acts of faith during the past year than all the rest of my life. On every occasion of struggle, when my enemies come to provoke me, I behave boldly. (Jean-François Six, Light of the Night: The Last Eighteen Months of the Life of Thérèse of Lisieux, p.29-31) As the Catechism explains, Thérèse’s experience of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seemed to contradict the Good News of eternal life, shaking her faith and becoming a temptation against it. God’s apparent silence and absence tested her faith. Due to the suffering and pain caused by her terminal illness, she was faced with the test: does God really exist or is he just make-believe? Faith led Thérèse to the Cross and Christ’s ultimate expression of faith confronting evil: At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” And when Jesus, had cried out in a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” With these words, he breathed his last.’ (Mk 15:34; Lk 23:46)

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Thérèse, following the example of Our Lord, teaches us that when confronted by challenges to our faith the only response is to make continual acts of faith and behave boldly when provoked by temptations. Pope Benedict, like Thérèse, explains the importance of recognising the darkness of faith during the Year of Faith: How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Co 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20). (Porta Fidei, 15) The two main challenges to Faith facing us Our generation of Catholics is confronted by two main challenges to faith, one of which is the perennial problem of evil and the other the challenge of science and technology. One of Pope Benedict’s purposes for the Year of Faith is to provide each one of us with the opportunity to be ready to make our defence of faith in the face of these challenges. As the Holy Father explains:

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To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries. Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth. (Porta Fidei, 12) Faith and Evil When I was a young man I visited the Nazi concentration camps Dachau in Germany and Mauthausen in Austria, where hundreds of thousands of people suffered appalling brutality, deprivation, and murder. I visited the crematoria, the execution blocks, the dissection rooms, and the mass graves. I looked at the photographs of the victims. Even though it was forty years since these terrible events nothing could have prepared me for the shock of seeing the evidence and hearing the testimony of such incomprehensible evil. I visited Dachau concentration camp on the feast of the beheading of St John the Baptist. In the grounds of the camp there is now a convent where there is perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The answer to the question of evil is not a theory or an ideology, but the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, present in the Word of God, the sacraments of the Church and the gift of faith. As Paul

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Claudel, the Catholic poet and playwright, put it, “God did not come to bring an end to suffering nor to explain it. He came to fill it with his presence�. The Catechism has a very beautiful paragraph on the mystery of evil: If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil. (CCC, 309) Faith and Science It has become commonplace in our society to present faith and science as irreconcilable opposites, representing two distinct approaches to the world that are naturally contradictory, even hostile. But that is not my experience,

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nor the experience of most scientists in my family. The German physicist and Nobel Laureate Werner Heisenberg explained the conflict and reconciliation between science and faith, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” Both the microscope and telescope were an important part of my childhood and adolescence, with hours spent examining the compound eyes of bees or the rings of Saturn. Through my fossil collection and family trips to the Natural History and Science Museums at South Kensington, London, I was very familiar with scientific accounts of the origin of the universe and the evolution of life. Scientists such as Richard Dawkins and George C Williams argue that people resort to belief in God in order to explain the complexity and seeming purpose of the universe because they cannot conceive of two immensities - the immensity of time and the immensity of space. Though they admit that the universe displays the illusion of plan and purpose they make the basic assumption that given these immensities of time and space the laws of physics, chance, accidents, mutation and adaptation are explanation enough for the emergence of life, and the peculiarity of consciousness. Faced with the beauty and order of the natural world and the wonder of human consciousness in my judgment their basic assumption just doesn’t have the ring of truth. But

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more than this, I am convinced that the universe contains signs of its Creator, and, through the condescension of God, I have encountered the living presence of the resurrected Jesus, the Alpha and Omega of the visible and invisible worlds. The Catechism has the truth of it when it states: The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of lifeforms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: “It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.” (CCC 283) How to use this book Rather than being all about the Year of Faith, this booklet has been designed to help you do something practical for developing and deepening your faith over the course of the year. Blessed John Paul II’s vision of the New Evangelisation was that Catholics use all the creative ways of expressing

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ideas, art, music and design that make up contemporary culture to communicate the Gospel. The CTS Companion to Faith offers you a range of films, books, biographies, works of art, blogs, websites, and activities to help you engage with the New Evangelisation. The Companion to Faith presents a range of practical suggestions and ideas that you can take up simultaneously, most of which will not entail you trespassing too far out of your day-to-day life. These suggestions have been chosen with a view to supporting your faith, expanding your vision of the Catholic Faith, and deepening your understanding of its practical applications. This booklet is divided into twelve sections each of which contains twelve suggestions or ideas. Those who prefer a methodical approach may want to take one suggestion from each of the twelve sections every month during the Year of Faith; while others who prefer a more random approach may prefer to dip into the sections as the fancy takes them. The ultimate purpose of this Companion to Faith is to help you realise in your own life Pope Benedict’s hope for the Year of Faith, that each one of us becomes a credible witness in the world, “enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.” (Porta Fidei, 15)

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Twelve films you really must see One idea would be to invite family and friends to watch these films together during the Year of Faith. Some of the films are only available as US & Canadian DVDs, so you’ll need a multi-region DVD player. The Gospel of John (PG) (2003). There have been many good films about the life of Jesus but The Gospel of John stands out for not taking any liberties with the narrative through adding characters, actions or dialogue, due to its intention of being a faithful representation of the gospel. It is for this reason that the role of narrator, voiced by Christopher Plummer, is as important as the role of Jesus because he gives voice to the evangelist’s explanations and interpretations of people and events. In the threehour version it’s even possible to access scenes through the chapters and verses of the gospel. There is a quiet exuberance, calm authority and at times passionate anger in Henry Ian Cusick’s portrayal of Jesus that conveys something of the awesome mystery of Jesus’ humanity being united to the divinity of the Son of God. Watching this film with its interchange between narrator and actors is very like participating in an exceptional reading of the gospel narratives during Holy Week.

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The Passion of the Christ (18) (2004). The Roman method of execution by crucifixion was brutal and depraved, and Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ is shockingly realistic in its depiction of the torture and death of Jesus, played by devout Catholic Jim Caviezel. The actors speak Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles, and this heightens the sense of realism. The heartbreaking pathos of Jesus’ passion is conveyed by scenes of his suffering being intercut with recollections of life with Mary as a child and as a carpenter in Nazareth. Jesus’ fall as a child prefigures his fall under his cross. The Catholic background of Mel Gibson comes to the fore when he draws the parallel between Jesus’ death on the Cross and his celebration of the first Eucharist with the apostles at his Last Supper. The last minutes of the Passion of the Christ depict his resurrection, which is all the more powerful because of its contrast with the harrowing brutality of the previous two hours. The Miracle Maker (U) (1999). A truly beautiful animated movie about the life of Jesus that combines 3D models and puppets in the tradition of Russian puppetry and powerful 2D animation. This ground-breaking feature length animated film succeeds in creating a masterpiece in the genre of Gospel films due to the painstaking detail of its recreation of first century Israel, the spiritual and psychological depth of its characterisation, especially its portrayal of Jesus’ combat with the devil, and the strength

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Extract of the CTS Booklet Companion to Faith  

Extract of the CTS Booklet Companion to Faith