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Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Lumen Fidei

July 5, 2013 by

Pope Francis. Photo by Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Pope Francis. Photo by Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Catholic Relief Services rejoices with the Universal Church on the release of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith). We’ve grown in a deeper understanding of our own mission through our study and reflection on Pope Benedict XVI’ encyclicals on charity(Deus Caritas Est) and hope (Spe Salvi). We look forward studying this encyclical for its insights on faith that will enhance our mission of serving the poorest of the poor around the world.

Here are some notable excerpts that speak to the Guiding Principles of CRS, which are based on Catholic social teaching, as well as our mission as the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

Faith, Hope and Charity, the Driving Force of Christian Life

In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God. (7)

Faith and Justice

Precisely because it is linked to love (cf. Gal 5:6), the light of faith is concretely placed at the service of justice, law and peace. (51)

Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. (51)

Faith is truly a good for everyone; it is a common good. Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope. The Letter to the Hebrews offers an example in this regard when it names, among the men and women of faith, Samuel and David, whose faith enabled them to “administer justice” (Heb 11:33). This expression refers to their justice in governance, to that wisdom which brings peace to the people (cf. 1 Sam 12:3-5; 2 Sam 8:15). The hands of faith are raised up to heaven, even as they go about building in charity a city based on relationships in which the love of God is laid as a foundation. (51)

Faith and the Vocation of Love

Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness. (53)

Faith and Solildarity

Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood. Modernity sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realize that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure. We need to return to the true basis of brotherhood. (54)

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. (54)

Faith, Development and Peacebuilding

Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity. (55)

Faith and Suffering

Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. How many men and women of faith have found mediators of light in those who suffer! So it was with Saint Francis of Assisi and the leper, or with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil. Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it. Christ is the one who, having endured suffering, is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb12:2). (57)

 The Dynamic of Faith, Hope and Charity

The dynamic of faith, hope and charity (cf. 1 Th 1:3; 1 Cor 13:13) thus leads us to embrace the concerns of all men and women on our journey towards that city “whose architect and builder is God” (Heb11:10), for “hope does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5). (57)

One Comment

  1. Tonya Alston says:

    Perfectly put. This article was very compelling and so to the point for me. I thank Pope Francis and God for his humble servant. To God Be The Glory.