“A Brief Commentary on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Lumen Fidei“
Today the Vatican made public Pope Francis’ first encyclical letter, which is entitled Lumen Fidei or “The Light of Faith.” It is the final product of a document that Benedict XVI started during his pontificate. The title of the work corresponds to one of the three theological virtues–faith, hope, and love. Benedict issued two encyclicals on love and hope, and now Francis is finishing the series by promulgating a letter about faith. I must say that Lumen Fidei is a Christian masterpiece.
My favorite line from the letter is the following: “It is characteristic of the divine light to brighten our eyes whenever we walk towards the fullness of love.” Francis repeatedly uses the metaphor of a light in a mirror to describe the relationship between God and humankind. As we move closer to the mirror by the grace of God, the light grows stronger and stronger. The sacraments, prayer, revelation, and the Church are gifts from God that enable us to achieve union with Him over time. We can walk in the light because of God’s grace and mercy as expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus is the only light that satisfies our thirst for truth; only through Him can we achieve full communion with the Father.
The encyclical also covers the blessing of apostolic succession. The Church that God founded continues to survive because the good news is passed on from generation to generation just as a language moves through history via tradition. It is because of the communion of the apostles and their successors with God that we have the Holy Scripture and the sacraments as Christ ordained them. The Church is the Body of Our Lord, and each member has a vital role to play in service of God and the common good. Only in community–only in the Church–can we find the fulfillment of God’s promises of faithfulness. While salvation is personal, it is communal, as well. The Lord chooses to share the gospel message through the Church. After all, who has come to know Christ by living in a vacuum?
I encourage you to take a look at the encyclical. Undoubtedly, it will help you find your way along the path of holiness. It will encourage you, and it will give you a number of memorable lines for prayer and reflection.
May the Lord provide you with the gift of faith, which reaches its perfection in love.