by Chris Canniff
Back in July, Pope Francis issued his first encyclical letter, entitled Lumen fidei. The document was partly composed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and was the culmination of his series of encyclicals which addressed the theological virtues – Spe salvi, on hope, and Caritas in veritate, on charity. Unfinished at the time of Benedict’s resignation, Francis took up the work of completing the encyclical letter on this fundamental virtue – faith.
Latin for “the light of faith,” Lumen fidei explores the necessity of keeping the flame of faith burning in today’s world. Faith as a light is spoken of in the letter as “the great gift brought by Jesus” into the world in order that darkness might not remain.
In the final chapter of the encyclical, Francis takes the Letter to the Hebrews as a starting point for his concluding reflections. According to the Holy Father, this book of the Bible is one in which “faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human beings can dwell together with one another.”
I would argue that this is precisely what Francis is attempting to do with his ministry as Bishop of Rome. The heart of Catholicism is communion, and Pope Francis is working to build communion among peoples by presenting the faith in all of its multi-faceted beauty. He wants to get back to the basics of the illumining faith given to us by Jesus. This light will guide us on our journey back to God.
Pope Francis recognizes that the world knows the stance of the Church in regard to the many controversial moral teachings which it is obliged to uphold, and so he wants to spend his time focusing instead on the light that faith provides as a proper guide for each person’s journey. He is exhorting people to walk with the Lord and welcoming them to begin this journey no matter what their present circumstances in life. Jesus will meet you wherever you are, and then you must simply be willing to walk with Him, supported by Him, trusting in Him.
Each step of the way, faith in the Lord is strengthened, and the image of faith as a guiding light develops into the image of faith as a burning flame of zeal for God – He who is Truth and Love.
The Torch hopes to participate in Francis’ mission, which is ultimately the mission of each Christian, that is, to be in communion. We hope to show to our fellow students the illumining light of Jesus which has illumined our lives as Christians and has helped dispel the darkness for us. We wish to set this campus aflame with that light.