Archbishop Richard Smith, assisted by Deacon Kris Schmidt, celebrates the concluding Mass for the Year of Faith and the archdiocese's 100th anniversary Nov. 24 at St. Joseph's Basilica.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Archbishop Richard Smith, assisted by Deacon Kris Schmidt, celebrates the concluding Mass for the Year of Faith and the archdiocese's 100th anniversary Nov. 24 at St. Joseph's Basilica.

December 2, 2013
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The Year of Faith was launched on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Its goal, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, was to educate Catholics about basic Church teachings, strengthen their faith and inspire them to share it with others. Throughout the special year, Catholics everywhere were encouraged to participate in the Christian tradition of pilgrimage.

While Pope Francis concluded the Year of Faith Nov. 24 in Rome, in Edmonton, Archbishop Richard Smith celebrated a special Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica to wrap up not only local celebrations of the Year of Faith but also the 100th anniversary of the Edmonton Archdiocese.

The celebrations coincided with the feast of Christ the King.

Smith said making the connection between the worldwide Year of Faith and the local jubilee made perfect sense. "Jubilee speaks of joy, and this is precisely what faith brings," he said.

The joy of Jesus is real and the joy of salvation is genuine, the archbishop said. This is much different than the kind of joy that people experienced watching the Grey Cup game, televised the same evening as the closing Mass for the Year of Faith.

"We're going to see images of frenzied happiness displayed by fans of the winning team," Smith said. That happiness will certainly be heartfelt but because it's superficial, it will soon pass and life will return to normal.

"In fact, so much of what passes for happiness today is like that. But God wants so much more for us than just the surface feeling," said Smith, noting that the joy of Jesus is everlasting.

The archbishop emphasized that Jesus is the universal king, who died for all people.

"In the Gospel we see Jesus on the cross, hanging between two thieves. Before any words are uttered, that image itself speaks," he said.

Only through Jesus Christ are we offered salvation: freedom from sin and its consequences. The two thieves represent all of us, as we are sinners given the choice whether to accept Jesus, either to repent or rebel, he said.

"Each thief was a sinner, yet their personal response to Jesus differed radically. One sided with the leaders, soldiers and others gathered at the cross," said Smith.

REBELLION

"He mocked the Lord, and taunted him. His heart was completely closed to Jesus. His response was rebellion."

The other thief, however, acknowledged his own wrongdoing and recognized that Jesus could forgive his sins, the archbishop said. Seeing the saving truth of Jesus, his response was repentance.

In his apostolic letter, The Door of Faith, Pope Benedict he proclaimed the Year of Faith to create an opportunity for the whole Church to enter a time of reflection on and rediscovery of the faith.

Later, Pope Francis carried on with the special year, describing it as a time of grace, helping people sense the great joy of believing and to renew their wonder at the vast horizons which faith opens up.

DISCIPLESHIP

Smith said Pope Francis' underlying message was that Baptism makes us disciples.

"Jesus was sent to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, release to prisoners, and freedom for the oppressed," he said, noting that this is what the baptized are also called to do.

The Year of Faith in the archdiocese was also the final year of the five-year Nothing More Beautiful series. Further, it was a year for the faithful to renew their understanding of the wealth of Church teaching.

The archbishop said this renewed understanding is more than an academic exercise. Faith, he said, is a relationship with God. As such, it is an opening of the heart to God who revealed and gave himself by sending his Son and Holy Spirit.

NICENE CREED

During the Year of Faith, the Nicene Creed was used as the Profession of Faith throughout the archdiocese. As the year concludes, Smith encouraged parishioners to continue praying the Nicene Creed.

The archdiocesan jubilee celebration got underway in October 2012 with an opening Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica.

A special display at City Hall featured images reflecting the archdiocese's rich history that were seldom seen in public. The Shaw Conference Centre was the site of a Jubilee Gala on Nov. 21, 2012, with proceeds split between the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese.

DAY OF RECONCILIATION

Anniversary Masses were held at parishes throughout the archdiocese, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

In Lent, a Day of Reconciliation was held March 6 at churches throughout the archdiocese, with a separate initiative in the 10 Catholic school divisions.

May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, was celebrated at the basilica with the final encounter of Nothing More Beautiful and the 50th anniversary of the basilica.

PARISH ARTIFACTS

Also in conjunction with the jubilee, individual parishes collected photos of significant artifacts. These included paintings, icons, sculptures, banners, stained glass windows, tapestries, quilts, books, baptismal fonts, or other items significant for their beauty, historical importance or role in the faith life of the parish.

A biography project was also undertaken for the jubilee. This was a way of honouring the faithful stewards who have contributed to the life and development of their parishes.

They include sisters, priests, catechism teachers, Bible study leaders, musicians or other individuals who have been devoted to the parish. Biographies of such contributors were being collected for a variety of print and online projects.