VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has approved a formula for a special “Mass for the New Evangelization” for the upcoming Year of Faith, as well as devised an official hymn, a dedicated website and a multilingual pastoral guide to coincide with the event.
The innovations were revealed at a June 21 Vatican press conference on the Year of Faith, led by the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The year will be held Oct. 11, 2012-Nov. 24, 2013. October 11 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
The Italian archbishop said the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had approved “the formula for a special ‘Mass for the New Evangelization,’” which would be a “clear sign” that, during the year, “priority will be given to prayer and especially to the Eucharist, as source and summit of all Christian life.”
Pope Benedict XVI announced the Year of Faith in October 2011 in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei. In it, he said the aim of the year is “to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.”
He said he also saw it as “a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist,” and to “intensify the witness of charity.”
Archbishop Fisichella said the Year of Faith “aims, above all, to support the faith of believers who, in their daily trials, never cease to entrust their lives to the Lord Jesus with courage and conviction.”
“Their precious testimony, which does not make the news, but is precious in the eyes of the Highest, is what enables the Church to present herself to the world today, as she did in the past, supported by the strength of the faith and the enthusiasm of ordinary people,” he said.
The archbishop noted that commemoration falls within “a broader context” of a “crisis of faith,” which is a “dramatic expression of an anthropological crisis which has abandoned man to his own devices.”
“We must overcome the spiritual poverty affecting so many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God from their lives as a void that needs to be filled,” he said, adding that the Year of Faith is therefore “an opportunity which the Christian community offers to the many people who feel nostalgia for God and who desire to rediscover him.”
The year will coincide with two major anniversaries: the aforementioned 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It will also begin around the same time that a three-week meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization gets under way at the Vatican.
A new website for the event is available in various languages and can be accessed by smartphone and tablet. The year also has an official hymn entitled Credo, Domine, Adauge Nobis Fidem (“I Believe, Lord, Increase Our Faith”) as well as a multilingual pastoral guide, “Living the Year of Faith,” to be published in early September.
Pilgrims will also receive an image of Christ, taken from the cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily, with the Creed written on the reverse.
A special logo has also been devised for the year, comprising an image of a ship that symbolizes the Church with the monogram of Christ, IHS, on the ship’s mast. In the background is a sun representing the Eucharist.
Archbishop Fisichella also announced a program of events during the year to be celebrated in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father. These will include an opening Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 11, which will also celebrate the Council’s anniversary. Concelebrating will be Synod Fathers taking part in the Synod on the New Evangelization, presidents of the world’s conferences of bishops, and 35 Council Fathers who are still alive.
Oct. 21 will see the canonization of seven people, including two North Americans, Blessed Sister Marianne Cope, also known as Blessed Marianne of Molokai, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Ecumenical vespers on Jan. 25, 2013, will take place at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. On April 28, the Holy Father will impart the sacrament of confirmation to a group of young people. May 5 will be dedicated to expressions of popular piety. On May 18, Catholic movements will gather in St. Peter’s Square, and, on June 2, the feast of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world.
June 16 will be dedicated to the Gospel of Life, while, on July 7, seminarians and novices from all over the world will conclude their pilgrimage by gathering in St. Peter’s Square. Sept. 29 will be dedicated to catechists on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism, and Oct. 13 will focus on the presence of Mary in the Church. The closing celebration will take place Nov. 24.
The year will also include a number of cultural events, including an exhibition on St. Peter to be held at Castel Sant’Angelo Feb. 7-May 1, 2013. A concert in St. Peter’s Square will also take place on June 22, at which 150,000 participants are expected.
Father Cesare Atuire, CEO of Rome’s pilgrimage office, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, welcomed the news of the Year of Faith, saying his organization is currently creating the best conditions to receive the many pilgrims expected in the Eternal City and the Holy Land during the events.
He said he hopes pilgrims will also “create a catechetical experience within the city,” as well as making the traditional profession of faith in St. Peter’s Basilica. “I have been talking to people in different parts of the world, and I get the feeling they like the idea of the enthusiasm being given to the experience of the faith today,” he said. “I think it’s well worth it, necessary and will make a difference.”
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.