November 6, 2012 // Local

Papal nuncio urges renewal of faith, evangelization

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, gave the homily at the 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, left, at St. Matthew Cathedral Nov. 4.

By Jodi Magallanes

SOUTH BEND — Follow the voice of Jesus speaking in His Church, so that the graces of the Year of Faith will increase our motivation to be faithful people of God, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano told worshippers at St. Matthew Cathedral Sunday morning.

Archbishop Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, gave that encouragement at the 11 a.m. Mass on Nov. 18 on the occasion of his first visit to the diocese. The purpose of his inaugural visit was to present a keynote speech at conference that evening. “Seeds of the Martrys: Telling the Story of Today’s Christian Martyrs” convened at the University of Notre Dame with the intention of raising awareness in the United States and around the world of the ongoing persecution of Christians, and of the Church’s response to it.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated the Mass, and Archbishop Vigano gave the homily at St. Matthew Cathedral and spoke with the faithful after the liturgy as well.

During his homily he explained that in Jesus’ words and sacraments one finds renewal of life, and that this renewal is greatly needed today. The need for renewal is why Pope Benedict XVI declared the Year of Faith that began on Oct. 13, he said.

Living faith opens one’s heart to the grace of God, and promotes evangelism based on that new life that He has transformed.

Two days earlier, 400 years after the Council of Trent and 50 years after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI convened the world Synod of Bishops on the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” Vigano shared some of the Holy Father’s words during the opening of the synod.

“In the council’s (of Trent) time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert that we can again discover the joy of believing its vital importance to us,” he said. “Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God, which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to new life, transformed by God.”

Everyone, whether they realize it or not, is in search of renewal of life — a rebirth in Christ, Vigano continued. But how can the faithful, in the modern world, live out the love that Jesus asked in Sunday’s Gospel, taken from Mark 12: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself?”

“The answer is simply this: Love becomes real through our faith in action.” Last year, he added, the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter, “Porta Fidei” said it this way.

“Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness.”

Americans have a special responsibility to witness to the Truth, Vigano noted, because of the challenges to human life and to the sacrament of Marriage, and the current political intrusion on the Church’s conscience.

In loving God and our neighbor, in our effort to bring the kingdom of God to others, the Catholic faithful must do everything possible to listen to and follow the voice of Jesus speaking in His Church, he said.

With U.S. elections looming, he encouraged Catholic Americans to “allow the graces that come to us in this Year of Faith to motivate and move us to be a faithful people, especially now in these days … and letting your voice be heard.”

Vigano extended to the faithful and to their loved ones the pope’s greeting and blessing. He also asked that the intercession of St. Charles Borromeo, his own namesake and the saint whose feast day was celebrated Sunday, remain with everyone present. As the Archbishop of Milan, where Vigano studied and near where he was born, St. Charles Borromeo implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent in a way that served as a model for other bishops.

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