Friday, January 17, 2014

Lumen Fidei: A Review

I admit I took my time to let my thoughts ferment before writing this review. I finished reading the encyclical a few weeks ago but couldn't fathom how to follow all the little thoughts that I had as I read it. It was a great temptation not to highlight every other sentence while reading because Lumen Fidei was short, but packed tight with little gems! With that said, I will approach this review from the perspective of one of the lay faithful and how the words of Lumen Fidei apply to me in my vocation as wife and mother. Several months before reading Lumen Fidei, I read this quote from the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes:
"This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments. Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other." Gaudium et Spes, 43.
It stuck with me precisely because I recognize that one of my particular challenges as a Christian is to live a life of integrity, to let my faith infuse all that I do so that there is no disconnect between the way that I treat people or behave in different spheres of my life. One of the ideas that Pope Francis in Lumen Fidei stretches out is the idea that faith in Jesus Christ and dedication to the Truth to which faith testifies should actually illuminate a person's whole life and path forward. One of the first paragraphs that I underlined in Lumen Fidei was:
"Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants." Lumen Fidei, 13.
This quote completely described my life pre-conversion. My forward motion in life was based on learning new hobbies and collecting new experiences. The moments seemed unconnected and random, just a way to fill the time for the sake of distraction. When I came to faith, I began to look at everything in my life through this particular lens of God which brought my life into focus. This seems to be the exact opposite of the way secular types would like for Christian people to view the world. We are pressured constantly to take our religion out of the public sphere and keep it within the walls of our churches, to live a compartmentalized life. It's very easy to yield to that pressure, but Pope Francis reminds us that the Gospel is a light which we need to share with others. It leads us outside of ourselves and contributes to the greater good.

This encyclical had a lot to offer in its relative few pages, and I admit that I may have to read through again to let everything sink in. You can read Lumen Fidei for free here, but I sure appreciated having a hard copy to write in and underline!

I received this book for free through Blogging for Books for this review.

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