Lumen Fidei

The Light of Faith

Format: A5 Paperback

Dimensions: 14.8cm by 21cm

ISBN : 9781860828843

Number of Pages: 56

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Publication Date: 15 Jul 2013

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Product Code: DO883


Lumen Fidei, the first Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis comes at the end of the Year of Faith which has been a great moment of reflection for all Catholics on what it is that we believe.

The Holy Father issues an urgent call to all the faithful "to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim." (Lumen Fidei 4)

He continues to express one of the central themes of his Pontificate so far,  that the light of faith must not simply "brighten the interior of the Church" but also serve the common good in the family, in society and in all those who suffer. 

This encyclical, begun by Pope Benedict XVI and completed by Pope Francis, concludes the trilogy of letters on the three theological virtues begun by Pope Benedict with Deus Caritas Est on Love and Spe Salvi on hope.

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This is the first ever encyclical I've read back to back, and what (in part) reignited the flame of faith in my heart, along with Meet Jesus with Pope Francis by Nick Donnelly. The pastoral way which this is written and the ease with which the faith is explained in the text really helped me to remember God's love for me, and how he has revealed it in the mystery of our faith. It is a real blessing for these words to be in print.

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What brilliance to counter perceptions of faith as a leap in the dark or obscurantism with a papal encyclical that shines with the light of faith! And it does shine - biblically, theologically and, I will dare to say, practically as I'm a preacher always in search of illustrations. This booklet will make Christ accessible to suitably literate keen enquirers but, though said to be a good translation of the original German, it is rather too dense for any reader who isn't eager to get to grips with its substance - and substance there is! I've rarely spent so long digesting a 56 page booklet nor reaped so much benefit from a booklet in terms of finding new angles on the age old unchangeable truth of Christianity. What is faith? The two Popes - Francis editing Benedict's draft - paint the picture in bright colours. `In the great cathedrals light comes down from heaven by passing through windows depicting the history of salvation. God's light comes to us through the account of his self-revelation... In the love of God revealed in Jesus, faith perceives the foundation on which all reality and its final destiny lies... Faith knows that God has drawn close to us, that Christ has been given to us as a great gift which inwardly transforms us, dwells within us and thus bestows on us the light that illumines the origin and the end of life.' To be saved is to open up your life to someone prior to yourself. `We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - this life was revealed' (1 John 1:1-2a) To have faith is to hear God's call, to see your life as part of his awesome reality, to touch the Lord in the sacraments. It is `to grasp reality's deepest meaning and to see how much God loves this world and is constantly guiding it towards himself... to live our lives in this world with ever greater commitment and intensity'. The light of faith sheds light not just on `the destiny of one particular people, but the entire history of the created world, from its origins to its consummation'. As I read this encyclical I thought of Teilhard de Chardin, such is its cosmic theme, presenting the Church as `the bearer within history of the plenary gaze of Christ on the world' (Romano Guardini). Faith, far from being an obscure preoccupation, eagerly ventures towards the cosmic future, counting on the hand of God, bringing light to the world through hope and love. Christianity is the biggest of `big picture thinking' - this encyclical is a counter to many stricture-filled past encyclicals in its brightness. `Faith appears as a process of gazing, in which our eyes grow accustomed to peering into the depths... each of us comes to the light because of love, and each of us is called to love in order to remain in the light... in this circular movement the light of faith illumines all our human relationships, which can then be lived in union with the gentle love of Christ'. The light of faith isn't given to brighten the interior of the Church but to build a hopeful world confident in the self-gift to it of God in Christ. `The awakening of faith is linked to the dawning of a new sacramental sense in our lives... in which visible and material realities are seen to point beyond themselves to the mystery of the eternal'. That awakening is an awakening into the pursuit of justice, love and truth. I thought of our great Anglican theologian Michael Ramsey more than once as I drank in this booklet, notably in this sentence: `believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth that embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all'. As a booklet this is a portable albeit dense resource. It will yield most fruit when space is set aside for proper digestion since its thinking is catalytic of a recovery of basic Christian vision and you need space to ponder for that to impact. Weighty as it is I found it a welcome counter weight to Christian writing that sits light to the transcendent and I suggest it will serve as a robust and cheerful pointer to open minded and suitably literate Christian enquirers.

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I am learning a great deal from this book. Faith is a hard concept to grasp. In this book, however, the words are easy to understand. No ethereal concepts to try to grasp. No scholarly notations, just good material to sit and ponder.

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This is a short but illuminating encyclical from both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. The topic is Faith and all that it encompasses. As stated in the dialogue between faith and reason; "Each of us comes to the light because of love, and each of us is called to love in order to remain in the light." Pope Francis equates faith as a journey that illumines all our relationships. This light will not scatter all darkness but will guide are steps and suffices for the journey.This is an inspirational and thought provoking read for your faith journey.