Faith is the source of light, of guidance for the Christian life. "We walk by faith, not by sight", wrote St Paul. In his first encyclical Pope Francis reflects on the meaning of faith, the beginning of God's gracious salvation.
Faith is the means by which man encounters the living God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Francis draws on key themes of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote encyclicals on charity and hope. He intended to complete the set with a reflection on faith, which would also have underscored the Year of Faith that he launched. Benedict's history-making retirement meant he was unable to finish his encyclical. Francis took up the task, adding his own insights, themes, and emphases to the work begun by Benedict XVI.
According to Pope Francis, Light of Faith is a "four hand document". Pope Benedict, Francis notes, "handed it to me, it is a strong document. He did the great amount of work". Thus, although officially Light of Faith (Lumen Fidei) is an encyclical of Pope Francis and reflects his teaching ministry, it is also reflects the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict. This is not only Francis' first encyclical; it is also the first encyclical to have been openly written by two successors of St. Peter.
"There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives." - Pope Francis
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Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio), is the first Latin American to be elected to the chair of Peter. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was ordained as a priest in 1969. He served as head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina from 1973 to 1979. In 1998 he became the archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in 2001 a cardinal. Following the resignation of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, February 28, 2013, the conclave elected Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the first pope to be a Jesuit and to come from the Americas.
Encyclical written by 4 hands!
I found out in late May that Pope Francis would be finishing Pope Benedict XVI's last encyclical on faith. Needless to say I was excited, as this would complete Pope Benedict's encyclicals on the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. However, I wondered if I was in the minority with my level of excitement. I hopped on my Facebook to share the news I had read, only to see others were already talking about it and just as excited. I hadn't seen this much excitement over the release of a work since Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsFull Review...
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