Many of us do not realize that Pope Paul VI also called the Church to a “Year of Faith” in 1967 to mark the 1900 year anniversary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul. Just as our particular dioceses will be developing plans for implementing the upcoming Year of Faith, so too did Albino Luciani later Pope John Paul I, then bishop of Vittorio Veneto. Here is an English translation of his suggested program to his priests back then. As is so typical for Luciani, his words 45 years ago ring true to us today:
. . . Try to have your faithful live the “Year of Faith” by speaking to them with enthusiasm about the Word of God, Jesus, and the Church more than about errors. And don’t be satisfied when your listeners are convinced: once they are convinced, they must act, they must act! Like Paul, strive so that “the word of God may make progress and be hailed by many others” (2 Thes. 3:1). Show by ardent words and actions, with a pure and charitable life, that you are “racing to grasp [Christ] since you have been grasped by Him” (cf. Phil. 3;12). When you talk about the Church, say that Christ loved her and “handed himself over for her. . . to sanctify her. . . in order to present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle. . . that she might be holy and without blemish” (cf. Eph. 5:25 27).
The Year of Faith also means shedding light on the faith. Now, faith is saying “yes” to God, clinging to Him with our whole spiritual being and making our own the truths which He has revealed to us and set before us by means of the Magisterium of the Church. Explain it to the faithful: this “yes” is an act of loving trust in God and at the same time an acceptance of His truths. We do not believe because we like these truths or because they are convenient to us, or because they are in agreement with scientific data or the fashion of the day, but because they have been revealed by Him who loves us and neither can nor will deceive us. If it were not for Him, we would not believe.
The Apostles and their successors, Pope and bishops, willed by Christ as official teachers of the Faith, are not in that position as masters, but simply as servants of the Word of God; they safeguard it and explain it without adding or taking away anything from it. Accepting and venerating their teaching is the means ordinarily necessary to arrive at the true Faith and the best way to be members of the Church.