The first one is the synthesis of the faith of the Apostles. That is why it is called the "Apostles’ Creed". The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says: "It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome" (CCC 194).
In our Vicariate, we recite the Apostles’ Creed (the short one) during the Liturgical Seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter) and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan during the Ordinary Time.
Perhaps we have sometimes considered the Creed as a monotone list of truths to be accepted. Instead it is the most complete expression of our faith. The CCC tells us that faith is "first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed" (CCC, 150). With our baptism we started "a journey that lasts a life-time. . . ends to eternal life" (cf. Porta Fidei, 1). Thus, when we say the Creed we do not just enumerate a list of truths but we enter into a dialogue with God, we abandon ourselves into the hands of a love which has its origin in God (cf. Porta Fidei, 7).
Pope Benedict XVI declared the year from 11 October 2012 to the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013, the "Year of Faith". Why? Do we not have faith since we come very regularly to the Church? Yes, but we need to know it more exactly, "reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it and confess it" (cf. Porta Fidei, 4). The Eucharist is "the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed … and also the source from which all its power flows" (SC, 10). So, when we participate in the Eucharist, let us say the Creed with all our heart, let us celebrate our faith through this fundamental prayer, let us thank God who, in Jesus Christ, revealed himself to us and made us his adopted children so that we can call him "Father".
To believe is never a private act. It is both personal and communitarian. The CCC (167) teaches us: "‘I believe’ is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during baptism. ‘We believe’ is the faith of the Church confessed by the Bishops assembled in Council, or more generally, by the liturgical assembly of believers. ‘I believe’ is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both ‘I believe’ and ‘We believe’ ".
In order to know better our faith and to profess it more clearly, I invite you all to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, available in our Parishes. This should be our book for this year. The Blessed John Paul II wrote: "This catechism will make a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church. . .I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith" (Fidei Depositum, 115 and 117).
Hence, the year of faith will be a true journey to a more exact and confessed faith, if we intensify our witness of charity. "Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt" (cf. Porta Fidei, 14).
01. I Believe
Jesus said: "Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree: ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’, and it would obey you" (Lk. 17:5-6). How many times have we asked God to eliminate injustice from the world, to heal a sick, to protect the innocents! And never was our request heard. Why did God remain silent? Is he so inhuman? Therefore, we ask: Where is faith? What is faith? What is the meaning of "I believe"? To believe is not to be sure of something, to see things in a clear and evident way. It means to trust in Somebody else, to put our life in His hands so that He will be our guide, to throw our life into an abyss, but the abyss of His bounty, His love! He is my Father! I don’t fear!
To believe means to embrace the cross of Christ and in His love, even though it is not evident. Jesus Christ asked His Father to free him from the chalice of the passion. He was not heard, but He continued the same to believe in Him, until His death. He professed a great faith: "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk. 23:46).
Thus, does to believe mean to have nothing sure, to lose everything, to become totally fatalistic, to renounce the use of our intelligence? No. To believe means to be sure of the mercy of God, of His love for us. Our intelligence, our memory, all our bodies and all our human capacities are called to help us to always know better The One in whom we commend our spirits, and our lives. Jesus Christ resurrected and we will also resurrect with Him but, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we have to believe in Him and in His Father as He did. God the Father chose us as His sons and daughters only for one reason - to know His free love for us (cf. CCC 218). He loves us even though we do not love Him.
"I believe" means to entrust all our lives to Him, to know that He is our Father, to see His love even when have to bear a heavy cross, to be sure that resurrection will come. Jesus Christ is the only man who can say without any uncertainty: "I believe!"
02. (I believe) in God
For a Christian, it is not enough to confess that God exists. This is known even by the Devil. A Christian is called to experience and to witness that God is Love! St. John says: "Let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love" (1Jn. 4:7-8).
To believe in God-Love means that we have the Father who loves His Son, the Son who loves His Father, and the Holy Spirit who is this Love between the Father and the Son. God is not alone, isolated; He is with others because He is Love and Love cannot remain alone.
For us, this means that we are not mere numbers, or anonymous creatures. No. God knows us, our qualities, limitations, successes, failures, plans, and dreams. He knows us much more than we know ourselves, because He is God-Love. Especially when we are undergoing a big suffering, God-Love is suffering with us. God-Love knows our past and never has He abandoned us because we have committed very big sins, never has He stopped to love us because of our bad past: "I have loved you with an everlasting love, so I am constant in my affection to you" (Jer. 31:3), "Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even these forget, I will never forget you. See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands" (Is. 49:15-16).
Many times we have another idea of God: He is the terrible judge who will punish every body because "No one is just in your sight" (Ps. 142:2). No. God presents Himself to us as "gentle and humble in heart" (Mt. 11:29). Every Holy Friday, we see God humiliated until death and still forgiving all: "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34). Never will God stop to love us because He does not love us for our merits: "This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away" (1Jn. 4:10) but only because He has loved us since the very beginning until forever.
We think that since God loves us, we have to love Him. As we say in our daily experience: I love you, so you should love me. God does not have this mentality. St. John says: "Since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another" (1Jn. 4:11). God-Love does not want a love for himself. His love is so generous and free that the way to respond to his love is not to love him but to love others! We love God when we accept others, when we forgive them. This is the God-Love that Jesus Christ revealed to us. This is the Christian God!
03. (I believe in God) the Father almighty
God the Father is almighty for his love! How can God continue to love us, after all our betrayals and my crimes (especially in judgments and words) against others? This is the meaning of "almighty": Never will He stop to love us, in spite of anything we could have done or are still doing in our lives (1 Jn. 14:10.16). God does not love us because somebody pushes him to that. No. He is almighty in his love and will remain faithful to this love forever: "The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever" (Is. 40:8). It is for this gratuity that God loves the lost ship: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Mt. 15:24), the sinners, the sick: "It is not those who are well who needs the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk. 5:31-32). Because His love is almighty, He loves those whom nobody loves!
Again, how can we justify the martyrdom of innocent people? Where is God with His almighty love? God is there with all the persecuted, because He, Himself has been persecuted, crucified, killed! The Love of God is so almighty that He accepted to suffer crucifixion for us. Thus, our suffering becomes united with the suffering of Jesus. We become his disciple and "The disciple is not superior to his teacher" (Mt. 10:24).
The passion of humanity receives the dignity to be united with the passion of the Son of God. God is there, with any person in prison or sick and wants to give him or her consolation and hope. The God of the Christians is not a God made of jam and honey, he is the God of the cross, but through the cross he gave us a new life which will last forever, so we call it "eternal". God invites any suffering person to transform his or her suffering into mercy, forgiveness and love, to help others to bear their cross, to fight against the causes which make humanity to suffer. Let us say often from the depths of our hearts: I believe in God the Father almighty-in-love!
04. Creator of heaven and earth
We believe that creation came from God the Father. From Him, "Every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name" (Eph. 3:15). Therefore we profess that God the Father is the "maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible". But let us not forget that everything has been created through Jesus Christ: "For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers" (Col. 1:16).
And, as in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son, the same who has the mission to unite the creature to the Creator. So, everything has been created by God the Father, through God the Son and with God the Holy Spirit. Creation is the work of all the Trinity. We come from the Trinity and we are going back to the Trinity. However, let us not forget that God is God and that man, the creature, is not God.
The Devil wanted to separate man ,the creature, from the Creator, to make him totally independent from the Creator and have all the plans of God destroyed. But God, almighty in His love and mercy did not abandon us to our destiny and sent His only son to take us and the whole world back to Him: "He would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth" (Eph. 1:10). This plan of the Father, realized by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is supported by the Holy Spirit who continuously pushes us to go back to God. As creation has been the work of all the Trinity, the same redemption is the work of all the Trinity. Our origin is from the Trinity, and our life is to be with the Trinity forever! God, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, is always protecting us and accompanying us every day in our journey to Him: "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. . . If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear" (Ps. 22:1.4).
05. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
The Christian faith professes that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem, died in Jerusalem and resurrected. It confesses also that God revealed Him as Lord and Christ; true man, and Son of God the Father. In history, Jesus Christ has not always been well understood. Sometimes, His divinity has been so stressed that He has not been seen as a true man. Sometimes, his humanity has been conceived as the source of social revolutions. It has not been easy to keep the true knowledge of Jesus Christ. Hence, there has been the felt need to discover Jesus Christ as our brother and a companion in our journey on this world. But, as we stress on the humanity of Jesus Christ, we must also stress on His divinity. He is the Son of God and God Himself. If Jesus were only a man, even the most holy man of all history, we would not have had access to God the Father, our sins would not have been forgiven, and death would not have been won. Only with Jesus as man-God, we are sure that we have been liberated from sin, that we can call God "Our Father". It is through Jesus Christ that we can know God as Father. In Him, God revealed Himself as Father, and through Him, He revealed Jesus as His Son and our brother, revealed the Holy Spirit as the love which connects every one of us with Him. Therefore, we are called to live with Jesus Christ until the end of our lives, even to die with Him, so that we can resurrect with Him. He is the Son of God, our Lord and our brother. Our faith cannot be imposed on anybody because it is a free gift that the Lord gives to whom He wants. Anyone who wants to become Christian has to know that he has to follow Jesus Christ, to bear his cross with him. Only in this way will he resurrect with Him in glory, for ever. The essential point of Christianity is to discover that Jesus of Nazareth is a true man and a true God. Taking this in mind, we can address him, with St. Thomas: "My Lord and my God" (Jn. 20:28).
06. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary is a concrete creature. She has been created by God like every one of us. But she was freed from the original sin and never committed a sin in her life. So, she is the person who has been created and redeemed. She is the image of what we have been and will be as we, too, have been created, and will be freed from every sin in the eternal life, redeemed for ever.
The shadow of the Holy Spirit covered the Virgin Mary, the way "God’s spirit hovered over the water" (Gn. 1:2). She is the "Handmaid of the Lord" (Lk. 1:38). She is blessed because she "believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled" (Lk.1:45). She is the humble person in whom God has made great things: "The Almighty has done great things for me" (Lk. 1:49). That is why she is "Of all women the most blessed" (Lk. 1:42) and all the generations will call her blessed (cf. Lk. 1:48).
With the obedience of the Virgin Mary to God, a human creature became, by grace from God, a partner in the plan of God and, in a certain way, His collaborator. God the Father saved us through a creature, one of us, the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary is the Spouse and the Mother. In one word, she is the creature that God chose to become the Mother of his Son, the Mother of God, and the Mother of every one of us. She is the image of the Church who also is called to generate children to God. We can say that she is the new creature: "My favor rests on you" (Mk. 1:11).
07. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell
It has always been difficult to understand the abandonment of the Father that Jesus experienced on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?" (Mk. 15:34). This verse, taken from Psalm 22, is a psalm of confidence, so we can say that Jesus expressed here his unconditional trust in God. Luke expresses this confidence of Jesus in another way: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk. 23:46). Here, we see that Jesus answers to the abandonment of the Father with his abandoning Himself to Him. Jesus, the abandoned, abandoned Himself to God the Father.
St. Thomas of Acuino said that, before the passion, God the Father gave Jesus a special grace to enable him to accept the passion: "Inspiravit [Deus Pater] ei voluntatem patiendi. . .infundendo ei caritatem: God the Father inspired in Jesus the will of accepting the passion. . . giving love to his heart". Even Jesus has been in need of a special grace from God before His passion! Jesus did not accept His sufferings in spite of His will, he chose to suffer in order to give us life forever. Thus, He made of Himself the prime example that "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13).
Was God the Father indifferent to the cry of Jesus on the cross? St. Paul says: "Since God did not spare his own Son but gave him up to benefit us all" (Rom. 8:32); "God loved so much the world that He gave His only Son" (Jn. 3:16). So, the Father was suffering with His Son on the cross, He was with Him. God is not far from the passion of humanity, from our passion. As Jesus Christ saved the world, He saved us, through His passion, in the same way God saves us, our families, and the world, through our passion. In this way our sufferings become an offering for the life of our families and of the world.
Families with handicapped children sometimes consider this difficult reality as a punishment from God, or as something to be ashamed of. Because of shame, some families do not inform the church about their handicapped children who can be helped by our movement, "Faith and Light". What they do not realize is that having a handicapped child is, on the contrary, a blessing from God.
As God the Father was suffering with Jesus Christ in His passion, He, too, is suffering with every family with a handicapped child. Hence, He has for every handicapped child a special attention, a special love. This handicapped child is a salvation for this family. I know that it is a cross difficult to be accepted, but God the Father has a special relation of love with this handicapped child and with the family, the same special relation of love that He had with His Son in His passion.
Jesus Christ descended to the dead to reconcile with the Father all the world, even those who died before Him and were ready to accept the love of God: "He went to preach to the spirits in prison" (1 Pt. 3:19). The death of Jesus, in obedience to the will of the Father, gave salvation to all, with no one excluded.
08. On the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead
On the cross, Jesus gave up His spirit to God the Father: "He gave up his spirit" (Jn. 19:30). In the resurrection the Father gives Jesus the Spirit, welcomes Him to heaven and in Him He welcomes every one of us, and all humanity. The New Testament clearly affirms that the resurrection is the work of the Father: "God raised Him to life" (Ac. 2:24). It is the initiative of the Father who declares the Crucified as Lord and Christ: "God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ" (Ac. 2:36). The resurrection of Jesus reveals the fidelity of God the Father who had promised salvation "By the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times" Lk. 2:70). The purpose of this fidelity is for our salvation. In the resurrection of Jesus we are all saved, the door of heaven is again open, to all!
The resurrection is also the history of Jesus: "He has risen" (Mk. 16:6; Mt. 27:64; 28:67; Lk.24:6.34; 1 Th. 4:14; 1 Co. 15:3-5; Rm. 8:34; Jn. 21:14). There is no contradiction with the initiative of the Father because the proclamation that Jesus is the Lord is always "To the glory of God the Father" (Ph. 2:11). Through His resurrection, Jesus won over sin and death. Thanks to His resurrection we can win the same.
The resurrection is also the history of the Holy Spirit: "In the spirit he was raised to life" (1 Pt.3:18).The resurrection had changed totally the life of the apostles. They were afraid of the Jews: "The doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews" (Jn. 20:19). After the Pentecost, there was no more fear: "Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed them in a loud voice". They became witnesses of Jesus! "We cannot stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard" (Ac. 4:20).
The Creed brings us to witness that the Crucified and the Resurrected is our Lord and our God.
09. I believe in the Holy Spirit
"It is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send Him to you" (Jn.16:7). We understand from this verse that our salvation is realized only with the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by God the Father to the Son and spread by the Son over every creature. He is the Spirit of truth, of the fidelity of God, who unites us with God, and among us. The Spirit is the "Father of the poor" (Pater pauperum, as we sing in the famous hymn of the Church of Rome "Veni, Sancte Spiritus"), takes care of those who are sad, depressed, desperate; He is our consolation. He gives us the love of God which enables us to love each other: "The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us" (Rm.5:5). If we open our heart with humility to the Holy Spirit, we become children of God: "Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God" (Rm.8:14).
10. (I believe in) the holy catholic Church
The Church is not the fruit of human efforts; she is a gift from above, from God. God the Father has always been thinking of her and prepared her with the history of his covenant with Israel. She was founded by Jesus Christ and by the effusion of the Holy Spirit. We enter into the Church through the Baptism, which is the door. Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are the sacraments which introduce us to the full membership of the Church. But the Church does not leave us alone during our life. She brings us back to God when we abandon him through the Sacrament of Penance, Confession, or Reconciliation.
She accompanies us when we have to decide which way to take in our life: to join the priesthood or to form a family (the Sacraments of Holy Order and of Marriage), and like a good mother, she encourages us when we are sick (the Sacrament of the Sick). In the Church we are a family, the family of God where we have a Father (God the Father), a Brother and a Redeemer (the Son), a Consoler and an Advocate (the Holy Spirit). So, the Church is based on the Trinity and forms with the Trinity the complete Family of God.
The Church is "Catholic" because she is one and holy in the unique Body of Jesus Christ. She is "Apostolic" because she is faithful to the mandate that Jesus Christ gave to his apostles: "Do this as memorial of me" (Lk. 22:19).
Every local Church is in communion with the other Churches by the grace from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Church is ensured by the ordained ministers: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons who celebrate in the name of Christ the Head. A Church is the true Church according to the will of Jesus Christ when priests, deacons and faithful are in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, and with the local Bishop appointed by him.
The Church has not only sacraments. There are other services, according to the gifts that somebody received from God: catechists, leaders, etc. The Church is a gift from God and she is at the service of humanity until all the world will be the Family of God: "So that God be all in all" (1 Co. 15:28).
11. (I believe in) the communion of saints
The communion of saints means the unique participation in the Holy Spirit. Also, since this communion is realized by listening to the Word of God and participating in the sacraments, it is a communion with the "Holy realities". Finally, it is the communion of all the people who have been touched and converted by the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, communion of saints does not only mean those who have received Baptism and became inhabited by the Holy Spirit, forming in this way the new Ark, the new Temple of God on earth, but also those who have already done their exodus without coming back. We also realize the communion of saints through prayer. Prayer introduces us to the Trinity, and with the Trinity in us, into our world: "If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him" (Jn.14:23).
This communion with all those who are still on earth and those who have already left this world, brings us to pray for each other, to realize a deep and continuous communion between heaven and earth. Hence, we have to pray for those who died. With the judgment on their lives having already been done, our dead cannot pray for themselves, but they can pray for us and accompany each of us in our daily lives. Being always with God, the intercession made by our dead for us is very strong and much stronger yet than our prayer for ourselves, since we are always linked with our weaknesses and sins. Our intercessions for them are strong for, as I have said, they cannot pray for themselves. This mutual communion between the living and the dead is what we call the communion of saints.
Since I am speaking about the prayer for the dead, I would like to remind you here of what I wrote in my Pastoral Letter of 2008-2009: To mention the name of a dead one at Mass is possible, but doing so should not be understood in a magic sort of way, as if the Mass were not useful for that dead person if we do not mention his or her name during the celebration. Likewise, let us not forget that the Mass is never restricted to one person or one intention, for the offering made by Christ of Himself on the cross and His resurrection are not for one person only, but, first of all, for the glory of the Father, then for everyone, and for the whole world.
12. (I believe in) the forgiveness of sins
What is the meaning of the forgiveness of sins? Does God just delete our sins or shall He remember them for ever? I have said in the previous pages that God is love, so He does not only forgive an act, He forgives the person who has committed that act, and rejoices at this person’s return to Him: "Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found" (Lk. 15:23-24).
If God remembers our sins, does He really forgive me? Then who forgives and not forget? God does not destroy our past but accepts it with peace and infinite love, so that we can glorify His love. In the same way, I should not forget my sins, but not torture myself for my bad past. Instead, I have to thank God for His great gift, the forgiveness, that I have received.
Forgiveness is given only by God but it comes to us through the Church in the Sacrament of Penance, also called the Sacrament of Confession, or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which reconciles us with God and with the community, the Church. We commit a mortal sin when we refuse deeply the love of God, through very bad acts. We commit a venial sin through our small and daily saying "no" to the love of God. The priest who gives absolution has to be recognized by the local Bishop, otherwise his absolution is invalid and the sinner remains in his sins (Cf. CIC –Code of the Church of Rome- canons 844, 967-969, 972; CCEO – Code of the Oriental Churches - canon 722, and 3-4).
Perhaps, we are astonished in front of these rules of the Church. Can the Church state that an absolution is invalid when a person has repented and received absolution from a priest? If that priest is not approved by the Bishop, his absolution is invalid because God gave the Church the power to "bind" and "loose": "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven" (Mt. 16:19). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explains: "The words ‘bind and loose’ mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into His. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God" (CCC 1445).
14. (I believe in) life everlasting
We believe that Jesus Christ not only died but that He also really resurrected, and He won over death! "Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more" (Rm.6:9). With the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death has no power over any creature any more. Jesus announced this victory through the resurrection of some people that He performed during His life. After the resurrection of Jesus, death became just the moment of passing to another condition of life. We proclaim in the preface of the dead: "Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven".
After our death we shall meet Jesus Christ for our personal judgment, which is not a terrifying moment, for we will only be enlightened about our fundamental option in favor or against the love that God gave us during our life. Christ the judge will make us transparent, knowing exactly how we answered to the love that He gave us on earth. It is a personal meeting with him. In the judgment we shall see the merciful face of God who will give us the courage of seeing the full truth about ourselves.
The Psalm says: "No one is just in your sight" (Ps. 142:2). Every one of us has in his life a mixture of refusal and acceptance of the love of God. Hence, we need a "time" of purification, in order to complete the option for love that remained partial in our life. This is what we call "Purgatory". After this purification, we enter into Paradise, the House of God, or we shall remain separated from Him, in Hell.
In the House of God, we will be "with Christ" (Ph. 1:23) and with all those who, purified from their sins, have been admitted to participate to the life of God: "We shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He really is" (1 Jn. 3:2).
Saint Paul says: "For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rm. 8:18-19). We understand from this passage that Hell is only for those who wanted to build their lives far from God and remained in that decision till the end of their lives.
The Church teaches us: "There is no repentance for men after death" (CCC 393). We read also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love Him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against Him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (1 Jn. 3:14-15). Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from Him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren (Cf. Mt. 25:31-46). To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘Hell’ "(CCC 1033).
But to be "with Christ" is a source of joy without limits because we shall feel loved with an always new love. Only the love of God gives meaning to our lives and to the world: "Love does not come to an end" (1 Co.13:8).
In conclusion, let me quote what Pope Benedict XVI has written about the faith of the Virgin Mary (Porta Fidei, 13): "By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk. 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels He worked in those who trust Him (cf. Lk.1:46-55). With joy and trepidation, she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk. 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt, to save Him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Mt. 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in His preaching and remained with Him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn. 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51), and she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4)".
Let us then ask God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Arabia, to increase our faith, and to imitate in our lives the faith of the Virgin Mary.
God loves and blesses you.
+ Camillo Ballin, mccj
Kingdom of Bahrain,
02 September 2012,
The Seventh Anniversary of my Episcopal Ordination
Regulations on Fast and Abstinence
1. Fast and Abstinence are prescribed for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, limited to the ages between 21 to 60.
2. Abstinence is prescribed as a general rule for every Friday in Lent, applicable to the age of 14 onwards. But for particular circumstances in the Vicariate of Kuwait, Abstinence is to be observed on the Wednesdays of Lent. Out of devotion Abstinence may be observed every Wednesday during the year.
3. Eucharistic Fast: The faithful must abstain from solids and liquids for one hour before receiving Holy Communion. This regulation is applicable to Masses celebrated in the morning, afternoon, evening or at midnight. Water does not break the fast. Those who are sick, even though not confined to bed, may take any liquid or food as medicines at any time before Holy Communion without asking permission.
1. Feasts of obligation:
a. Sundays or Fridays or Saturday evenings
b. Christmas (25th December)
c. Solemnity of Mary Mother of God (1st January)
d. St. Thomas: (3rd July) (obligation is only for the Syro-Malabar Rite)
e. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (15th August)
f. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: (8th September) (obligation is only for the Syro-Malankara Rite)
2. Feasts of devotion:
a. St. Joseph (19th March)
b. St. Mark the Evangelist: (25th April) (for the Coptic Rite)
c. SS Peter and Paul (29th June)
d. All Saints (1st November)
e. All Souls: Commemoration of all the faithful departed (2nd November)
f. Immaculate Conception (8th December)
3. Feasts transferred to the following Friday / Sunday:
b. Corpus Christi
d. Solemnity of Our Lady of Arabia, Patroness of both the Vicariates in the Gulf (Second Sunday of the Ordinary Time)
e. St. Maroun (9th February)
4. Feasts of the Parishes
a. Holy Family Cathedral, Kuwait: (Sunday after Christmas)
b. Parish of Our Lady of Arabia, Ahmadi, Kuwait: (Second Sunday of the Ordinary Time)
c. Parish of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Salmiya, Kuwait: (1st October)
d. Parish of Saint Daniel Comboni, Jleeb al-Shuyoukh, Kuwait: (10th October)
e. Mission of Saint John Bosco Mission, Jahra, Kuwait: (31st January)
(mission temporarily closed)
f. Parish of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Qatar: (7th October)
g. Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bahrain: (Friday following the Solemnity of Corpus Christi)
h. Mission of Our Lady of the Visitation, Awali, Bahrain: (31st May)
i. Parish of Saint Arethas: (24th October)
j. Parish of Our Lady of Fatima: (13th May)
k. Parish of Our Lady of Arabia: (Second Sunday of the Ordinary Time)