Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?

(A post for the Year of Faith) Several people have asked this question: Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?

Answer: Part of being Catholic is learning to think with the mind of the Church. She thinks liturgically about time, which differs from the civil (as in secular, not as in polite) measuring of time. The Church measures time from one liturgical or spiritually or historically important event (historically important to the Church, that is) to another, not a mere length of 365 days that carries no meaning beyond the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve once around the sun.

Looking further I found this quote at Catholic Culture.

“The opening and closing dates of the Year of Faith carry special significance. October 11, 2012, will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and the Vatican notes that the special year should be “a propitious occasion to make Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church more widely and deeply known.” November 24, 2013, will be the feast of Christ the King, and the CDF underlines the importance of using the year to encourage Catholics to share the precious belief in Christ as the redeemer of the mankind.”

The dates of liturgical celebrations, even the release of documents, generally correspond to a significant date on the Church calendar or in her history. Look at a few encyclicals and other publications and you’ll see what I mean. For example, here’s what you’ll find at the end of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the Gospel of Life:

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.

Stayin’ Alive, Spiritually Alive, that is: Keeping The Precepts of the Church

Only Five Precepts of the Church(A post for the Year of Faith.) There are only five precepts of the Church and every Catholic should know them. Let’s take a look at them as found in the Catechism, second edition, Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3, starting with paragraph 2042, without the commentary, just the precepts. And notice that the subtitle of Article 3 is: The Church, Mother and Teacher. The Church is your Mother. She has something to say to you. Listen up!

  • You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  • You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  • You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  • You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  • You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

There. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Only five precepts and they’re brief, too. Blessedly. (Heh. A little Church humor. Very little. Ahem.)

Now why do you suppose the Church wants you to attend Mass on Sundays or to confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year? Because, like any good mother, she just wants you to drop in once in a while so she can see your face before she forgets what you look like? Well, maybe. But mostly to keep you spiritually alive! Read these words in paragraph 2041 right before the list of precepts.

“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor…”

You see, to keep alive spiritually you must attend Mass every Sunday, confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (Notice that you can attend Mass without receiving. This is important. If you’re not in a state of grace, you should not even think about presenting yourself for Communion. But you still must attend Mass!) You must also observe the days of fasting and abstaining, and help provide for the needs of the Church. This is the bare minimum for your interior, spiritual self to stay alive. If you are not meeting this bare minimum in your life, you may be in danger of dying spiritually. And if all you do is the bare minimum, then you’ll be barely alive spiritually, too.

When someone says, “Oh, I’m not religious at all but I’m very spiritual,” I have to say, “Oh, really?” Because I know that person is probably not spiritual at all. Most of the people who say things like that to me only concern themselves with things of the world and the body and the body’s appetites. They don’t go to church, don’t see why they should; don’t mortify their appetites, again, they don’t see why they should; they don’t practice self-control; they don’t confess their sins and they don’t receive the Eucharist. And, of course, they don’t give anything to their church because they don’t even have a church. Because…they’re “spiritual, not religious!”

Oy ve! Tell me how they can be spiritual! What do they even mean when they say it? Do they mean they believe in spirits? What kind of spirits? Spirits of good or spirits of evil? Do they mean that they practice spiritualism? Play with Ouija boards? (And why does that word end in an “a” instead of an “i” or an “ie” or “ee” or something? I never hear anyone pronounce it “Wee-ja”, it’s always “Wee-jee” board.)

Oh, they’re very spiritual. So spiritual that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid suffering. Mortification? Why, they’re mortified at the thought of it! And not in a good way!

He is the Vine, we are the branchesChrist said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. If we cut ourselves off from the Vine, we will shrivel and dry up. If we cut ourselves off from the Eucharist, we have no life in us. If we turn away from the ordinary means of grace in the sacraments, how do we expect to receive grace? If we don’t mortify our appetites, how do we expect to preserve or increase in grace? If we don’t confess our sins after sinning, how do we expect to get back into a state of grace so we can continue to grow and have a real and not imaginary spiritual life?

And that, I think, is all too often the problem: People imagine that they are spiritual and that they have a spiritual life when they don’t know the first thing about spirituality at all.

So stop imagining that you’re a very spiritual person and go to confession and get into a state of grace and get to Mass and and control your appetites and stay in the Vine and really be spiritual! Because your Momma says so. Momma Church, that is!

The full text of paragraphs on the precepts can be found online, paragraphs 2041 – 2043.

Vine passage from Gospel of John 15:5:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Pope Benedict XVI begins new weekly series of catechesis for the Year of Faith

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, a true gift to the Church from The FatherUpdated Nov 1 2012 to add link to Audiences. Pope Benedict XVI announced a new series of weekly catechesis during the Wednesday audiences for the Year of Faith. Below I’ve posted the first paragraph of the announcement. Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports. Link to weekly General Audiences, texts in full. Short video below.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Weekly Audience, St Peter’s Square, October 17 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I will introduce the new cycle of catechesis, which will be developed throughout the Year of Faith that has just started and interrupt – for this period – the cycle dedicated to the school of prayer. With the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei I chose this special year, so that the Church would renew its enthusiasm to believe in Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, revive the joy of walking on the path that He has shown us, and witnesses in a concrete way the transforming power of the faith.

Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports.

How Catholic was the Early Church? Read the Early Church Fathers and see!

One of the things non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) are surprised to discover is how Catholic the Early Church was. (Hint: VERY.) And nothing makes this point better than reading the writings of the Early Church Fathers. I just added a list of resources that will help introduce you to the Fathers. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but, hey, it’s a start. :) I’ll add more to it as time goes on, as I’m doing with all the resource pages.

Updating the Resource Pages

I’m in the midst of editing and updating some of the pages around here (about time!). Made some additions tonight including some new resources on the Life Issues page, more  about the HHS Mandate (including the false claim made by the Vice President during the VP debate and the USCCB’s quick response to it– breathtakingly fast!). Made a couple of changes on the Year of Faith and the Vote pages. Comments are welcome and thank you for reading. God bless you and peace be with you.