Diocese opens observance called for by Pope Benedict XVI
Bishop: Embrace Christ during Year of Faith
Bishop David Zubik said that Pope Benedict XVI called for the Year of Faith because he knows the importance of our salvation.
"This isn't all there is to life," the bishop said. "All of us need to be focused on the goal of getting to heaven."
He opened the diocesan celebration of the Year of Faith at an Oct. 20 Mass at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.
The bishop pointed out that the Holy Father called for the commemoration in part because it is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."
Most importantly, however, it is the pope's recognition that we must take notice of Jesus in our lives.
The joy of baptism has faded for many of us, he noted, and Christ is often not as close to our hearts as he should be.
"We need the Year of Faith to get our act together and show where we are with Jesus," he said.
The work of salvation is not a one-way street, he added, and while Jesus has done so much for us, we cannot be saved unless we are open to receiving him.
"We aren't going to be saved unless we embrace him," he said. "And we aren't going to embrace him unless we are people of faith."
Bishop Zubik pointed to Pope Benedict's seven points for the Year of Faith celebration.
First, it is an opportunity for us to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, he said. We must view him as more than just a figure on a crucifix, and he must become real in our lives. The bishop noted that many parishes will offer opportunities to come before the Blessed Sacrament during the year.
It is also a sign that our faith isn't changing. We recite the same creed as the faithful did in 325 A.D. We must embrace the faith, he said, and be Catholics in more than name only.
The third point, he noted, involves a conversion of the heart. While we aren't saints, we should strive to be like them. We must also confess our weaknesses and take advantage of reconciliation opportunities. He noted that numerous opportunities will be offered in parishes, particularly during the Lenten season.
The Year of Faith is also a period of ongoing conversion, he said, and we must realize that no matter how bad things are, we are never alone and God is always with us.
In addition, the year is a recognition that we are a family, but we cannot exclude anyone from joining us. We must make our faith a part of who we are and invite others to learn more about us.
The sixth point, he said, calls us to stand up against the culture of secularism. We must fight for life, the sanctity of marriage, basic freedoms and other principles that the faith stands for.
And finally, the bishop noted, we must see ourselves as church as we truly are -- the body of Christ.
"May this year be one in which we not only receive Christ, but embrace him," he said.
Bishop Zubik closed his remarks by relating a story told by Mother Teresa. It involved a beggar in India who spent all day in the sun, but only collected 28 cents. Rather than buying the piece of bread that he coveted, he took the money and offered it to Mother Teresa.
She debated whether to take it, but ended up doing so because she did not want the man to feel marginalized. She was rewarded, however, by one of the most joyful smiles she had ever seen.
"That, my brothers and sisters, is what the Year of Faith is all about," the bishop said. "That you and I, in our encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ, can be so much like him that others can see the joy in our faces."
Pope Benedict formally opened the Year of Faith at an Oct. 11 Mass in Rome. The Pittsburgh Catholic pilgrimage, led by Bishop Zubik, was in attendance.