Editor's Note: During the month of November, as the Year of Faith draws to a close, we will be celebrating all the fruits of this year. Each day we will feature a short reflection from Catholics all over the country and world, sharing what God has done. If you want to share your own fruits with us, email us a short reflection (no more than 500 words, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear how God has blessed you and deepened your faith this year!
The papal encyclical The Light of Faith was one of the crowning achievements of this Year of Faith. Started by Pope Benedict XVI and completed by Pope Francis, The Light of Faith quickly earned the nickname “the encyclical written by four hands.” The Year of Faith, too, was begun by our former pope and is being ushered to a conclusion by the current one. Over the past year, I had to learn to say good-bye to Benedict and to welcome Francis into my heart. The encyclical they both wrote is like a bridge leading me from one Holy Father to another.
The light of faith helps us to see in the darkness of this world, states the encyclical. Faith illumines our vision and sends our hearts soaring upward to seek God. In the rich imagery of the Song of Songs, God is the lover, and our soul is the beloved.
The lover says to the beloved, “Your eyes are doves” (Song 1:15). The two eyes … are faith-filled reason and love, which then become one in rising to the contemplation of God, when our understanding becomes “an understanding of enlightened love” (LF, no. 27).
Our faith should not spring from a dry sense of duty or servile obedience. It should well up from our hearts’ eager acceptance of the love God lavishes upon us. His love is true and it is grounded in truth, because nothing else can endure and transcend the passing moment.
If we do not accept the truth of God — his own truth, not the truth we manufacture for him — we cannot really love him. But our acceptance of the truth should spark a passionate desire to receive and reflect God’s caring and mercy to all. “If love needs truth, truth also needs love. Love and truth are inseparable. Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives” (LF, no. 27). This union of truth and love allows us to become one people of God, one Body in Christ.
The Fathers described faith as a body, the body of truth composed of various members, by analogy with the Body of Christ and its prolongation in the Church. …The unity of the faith, then, is the unity of a living body (LF, no. 48).
As Christians, we should love one another as we love our own body. “Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters” (LF, no. 54).
In The Light of Faith, I recognize Pope Benedict in the luminous elegance of his writing on love. I recognize Pope Francis in the emphasis on mercy and outreach to all. Both men have helped me to deepen my faith and continue opening my heart to God’s love during this Year of Faith and beyond.
Karee Santos graduated from law school at age 21 and practiced law for nearly 10 years in New York City before giving it up to stay home and raise her six children. She has authored numerous articles on marriage and family for the National Catholic Register, Faith & Family: The Magazine of Catholic Living, CatholicMom.com, CatholicLane.com, and AmazingCatechists.com. She blogs in English at Can We Cana? and in Spanish at Comencemos en Caná. She also belongs to the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.