Strengthen and renew relationship with Jesus during Year of Faith
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Lord generously strengthen the gift of faith in your hearts. Faith is one of the most precious gifts God gives. First in our holy Baptism, by taking away Original Sin which separates us from Him, God gives us the power to know and love Him. He strengthens that gift in Confirmation, so that through the Holy Spirit we may be fully and truly united with Him in His own most precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. These three sacraments comprise our full initiation into the Church, where alone the Faith is cherished and preserved.
Our holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has therefore called this Year of Faith to strengthen and renew our gratitude for, and daily practice of, so great and precious a gift. The Year of Faith begins on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. This week, we are called to this urgent renewal. We are invited to open our hearts and lives more fully to God’s gracious presence among us. We are invited to offer ourselves back to Him, just as Christ our Lord has offered the entirety of Himself for us on the Cross. And we are called to turn aside from the folly of the world, to embrace the true wisdom of God. The Year of Faith will end on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 24, 2013.
In the course of this Year, we will have many opportunities to deepen our gratitude for the gift of Faith, to study the content of our Faith, and to renew our participation in the sacraments, especially in Confession and Holy Eucharist. I prayerfully suggest that each of us read again the documents of the Second Vatican Council and Catechism of the Catholic Church, or at least parts of them during the year. Please continue to read the Catholic Globe and our website (www.scdiocese.org) for many more resources. We want to feel more and more the urgency of sharing our Faith with others, in the works of mercy and in showing by how we live every day what a difference faith in Jesus Christ can make. But most of all, we want to use this Year to grow in personal love and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we deepen the intimacy of our relationship with Jesus? The same way we do with anyone else: we must spend time with Him. We spend time with Jesus most powerfully in the sacraments, and in Scripture, where He is most tangibly present. We cannot love Jesus deeply if we refuse to spend time with Him in Sunday Mass! I am also in the process of scheduling six Holy Hours at different parishes in our Diocese. These will be held on Wednesday evenings or Sunday afternoons. I hope you and your families will join me. Further details will be provided.
We must also spend time with Him in prayer, especially prayer that opens up for us the mysteries of His life, Passion, death, and Resurrection. And therefore there are few ways more suitable, and more proven, to learn to love Him, than praying the Rosary frequently. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray the Rosary diligently this Year. Let your hearts be open to the encounter with Christ our Savior through pondering His saving works, summarized in the twenty mysteries of this beautiful prayer. Let your hearts be open also to the influence of Mary, our spiritual mother, who loves Jesus best of all. She too can teach us how to love Him better, by her powerful example and intercession.
May the beginning of this Year of Faith be filled with many rich spiritual gifts for all of you. May your Faith grow in every aspect of your life! And may our gracious Lord generously bless you, now and always.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City