Closing in on one year since his elevation to Archbishop, Joseph Harris has written his first pastoral letter and he has released it to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith as pronounced by Pope Benedict XVI and launched in Rome on October 11, 2012.
The year will end on the Feast of Christ the King, in 2013.
Theme of Archbishop Harris’ 4,000-plus word pastoral letter reflects on how the faithful can deepen their knowledge of their Catholic faith; the practical ways to live that faith and how they can share or proclaim it. This is clarified when he wrote, “Let us together, through the activities which I have suggested rediscover the joy of believing and enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”
In an urgent plea within the letter, the Archbishop urged parishes to once again have ‘Know Your Faith’ exercises by the members of parish ministries to come together, or devote parts of their meetings to the study of the doctrines of our faith. “I call on all families and Catholic institutions of learning,” continued Archbishop Harris, “to set aside time in the day to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures. I am extremely confident that if this exercise of scripture reading and meditation is done regularly, we will, as Pope Benedict desires, ‘rediscover the taste of feeding ourselves on the word of God faithfully handed down by the church.’”
In Section 3 of the letter—Live Your Faith—Archbishop Harris speaks to the response to the word holy and said, “We must not be afraid of that term. Holiness is not contrary to manliness, nor is it contrary to joyfulness. Holiness requires strength and clarity of purpose. Holiness requires an ability to think critically and make judgments, not based on emotion, but on clearly thought out and adopted principles, principles which flow from the values of the kingdom. “As we know and live our faith,” the Archbishop writes in Section 4—Share/proclaim your faith—“it will become easier for us to share our faith. It is much easier to live our faith in community than to try to live it alone. The struggles which we face as we confront the attacks of relativism and secularism are more frequent and more sustained.
“We will be able to overcome the attacks and temptations coming from these ways of thinking and acting only if we live the unity for which Christ died on the cross.
“One of the ways in which this unity is built is by faith sharing in our communities and parishes. This activity is a support for us as we struggle to come to a deeper understanding of the scriptures and their role in our lives,” stated Archbishop Harris. In his conclusion, the Archbishop called on all Catholics to rediscover the joy of believing and enthusiasm for communicating the faith. He wrote, “I urge all parents, the first educators in the faith, to be true to your responsibility as primary educators. Gather your family around you and pray and study together the truths of our faith.”
Calling on the young people, Archbishop Harris admonished them to remember they were the future of the church in Trinidad and Tobago and urged them to study the scriptures and the truths of faith, remembering all the time “that the truth of our faith is a person, Jesus Christ. Build a strong relationship with Him.”
• VERNON KHELAWAN is the media relations officer of Catholic Media Services Limited (Camsel), the official communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain. Its offices are at 31 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. Telephone is: 623-7620.