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Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith). This first encyclical of Pope Francis is the work of "four hands," as the Pope explained. He received the text from Benedict XVI, who intended to complete the reflection he had begun in his encyclicals on charity¸ God Is Love, and hope, Saved in Hope. Francis took up the task of finishing the encyclical on faith while still in the Year of Faith, adding his own insights, themes, and emphases to the document. It was published on July 5, 2013. This is not only Francis' first encyclical; it is also the first encyclical to have been written by two successors of St. Peter.
In The Light of Faith Pope Francis takes up the question: What difference does faith make? He invites the reader to think anew about faith. The Pope speaks of faith as a light, but still, "Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey." By faith we can know God, but we can't fully understand him. So areas of darkness remain. That is why we have to believe first in order to understand, as Francis stresses. Ultimately, faith is transformed by love. When we love, faith can fully transform us.
From the Encyclical: "Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing. In many areas in our lives we trust others who know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us (cf. Jn 1:18). Christ's life, his way of knowing the Father and living in complete and constant relationship with him, opens up new and inviting vistas for human experience" (no. 18).
This first encyclical of our new Pope is essential reading for every Catholic.
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