Church

Lumen Fidei: A Summary on Pope Francis' First Encyclical

Pope Francis has released his first encyclical along with some help from Pope Benedict XVI who completed most of the draft before he resigned from the Papacy.

[For more basic facts on the release of this encyclical, see 7 Things You Need to Know about Pope Francis’ First Encyclical]

First, this encyclical is fantastic. I think the Church will be thinking, praying, and quoting this one for a very long time. The Church, especially in the West, is hungry for a renewal of the faith. During this Year of Faith, this encyclical on faith is a tremendous addition to the conversation that is going on throughout the world.

Second, the purpose of this blog post is to give a summary of the encyclical. After its release, there will be plenty of news articles about the encyclical that will report a few of the major themes or quotes of the document.

[Follow Pope Alarm on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to receive to get these quotes and share them with others].

Others will want to read the entire document, but might not have the time to do so right away. My goal is to provide an outline and a summary of the document to help increase the interest in this great work and to provide motivation for people to read through and learn more about our faith and how they can apply it to their lives.

[To read the entire encyclical -- PDF version: http://ow.ly/mGnAd; Online version at vatican.va http://ow.ly/mGnCt]

Outline of the document

Chapter 1 – We Have Believed in Love (cf. 1 John 4:16)

Chapter 2 – Unless You Believe, You Will Not Understand (cf. Isaiah 7:9)

Chapter 3 – I Delivered to You What I Also Received (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3)

Chapter 4 – God Prepares a City for Them (cf. Hebrews 11:16)

Two options

1. You can read the summary of each chapter of the encyclical. This part appears first.

2. You can read the summary of each chapter with quotes. This part appears second.

 

Summary of the introduction:

The encyclical starts with what the ancients put their faith in and proceeds to move directly to what our culture believes about faith – that it is something for the blind, those driven by emotion. But, at the same time, our culture is discovering that reason is not enough. Confusion has set in on what is good and evil, right and wrong. Faith in Jesus and love in Him gives us a new vision to see the world.

Summary of Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 reviews Salvation History—the story of God’s people—to see faith throughout history. It begins with Abraham who St. Paul often quotes and uses as an example in the New Testament. It is noted that God speaks and acts towards Abraham as one in a relationship, not as a god who is far away. Our faith in Him calls us to make a step forward—to go on a journey with Him, just like Abraham. In this journey, our relationships with God are not just about our faith in Him, but in His faith in us! We can jeopardize this relationship with idolatry. The story of Israel points to the temptation of idolatry—to worship that which we make with our own hands. Finally, the story of faith finds its summation in Jesus. He is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and at the same time shows us why we can trust Him—He died for us! Because He came into our reality, we can now truly see reality. God is not something beyond us; He is someone who acts in the here and now.

Summary of Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 seeks to understand the relationship between faith and several other aspects—reason, love, truth, and theology. Lumen Fidei shows that truth is necessary for faith so that it can remain grounded. Faith is rooted in reality when it is rooted in truth. Similarly, our love for God has to have this truth as well or it be fleeting like emotions. Love is needed with faith so that truth does not become cold and impersonal.

Our culture often believes that truth that is meant for everyone is by its very nature like a dictator. But, truth for everyone can reveal a common good for everyone and when it is done in love it can be personalized to each individual.

In the end, truth in the Catholic faith possesses us; we do not possess truth. As we become more possessed by truth, we grow in humility and in the knowledge of the faith. By taking on knowledge and humility, we are more capable of sharing this truth with others who are seeking it. A truth that will truly fulfill what they are ultimately searching for.

Summary of Chapter 3:

Ultimately, faith and truth are received in community. The nature of our lives forces us to have faith in the truth others are giving us—from our names to our language. The same is for our Christian faith which is passed on from one generation to the next. We accept this faith in a community and in the communion of the Church.

Specially, the sacraments allow us to experience this faith. We are received into the community of the Church through Baptism and encounter the love and gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, we experience the past gift that God has given us while seeing the future of our eternal home. In addition to the sacraments, the Our Father and the Decalogue gives us a new vision and a new path to live while united to our community. This community stays unified through the apostolic tradition and apostolic succession which safeguards truth and allows our faith to be handed on. Believers must believe in all of what the Church teaches or they endanger unity.

Summary of Chapter 4

In this final chapter, Lumen Fidei shows how faith should be the foundation of our society. Faith is needed for the foundation of our society, marriage and family. In marriage, men and women have faith in a common good and a hope beyond themselves. In this faith and in this love, they provide a model of faith and a place with faith grows as children place their trust in their parents.

This foundation of family helps form our other relationships as well. Men and women cannot have true brotherhood without a common father. Faith in God provides this common faith so that our societies can endure. It also provides the dignity of the human person which is needed in our societies as well.

Faith also provides strength in suffering. Faith does not answer every question, but provides a lamp to help us navigate through the darkness and the presence of God who is with us personally in our suffering.

In the end, faith should provide us with joy. Just as Mary accepted Jesus with joy, we too should follow her example. The sign of our faith lives should be a joy in Jesus.

 

Introduction 

Summary of this introduction:

The encyclical starts with what the ancients put their faith in and proceeds to move directly to what our culture believes about faith – that it is something for the blind, those driven by emotion. But, at the same time, our culture is discovering that reason is not enough. Confusion has set in on what is good and evil, right and wrong. Faith in Jesus and love in Him gives us a new vision to see the world.

Some notable quotes from the introduction:

What our culture often believes about faith:

“Faith thus appeared to some as an illusory light, preventing mankind from boldly setting out in quest of knowledge.” (No. 2)

“Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.” (No. 2)

“Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotions” (No. 2)

The truth about faith and reason:

“Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future.” (No. 3)

“Yet, in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the goad to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.” (No. 3)

“The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.” (No. 4)

“Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see” (No. 4)

Side note on the authorship of the encyclical:

“These considerations on faith – in continuity with all that the Church’s magisterium has pronounced on this theological virtue—are meant to supplement what Benedict XVI had written in his encyclical letters on charity and hope. He himself had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith.” (No. 4)

Chapter 1 – We Have Believed in Love (cf. 1 John 4:16)

Summary of Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 reviews Salvation History—the story of God’s people—to see faith throughout history. It begins with Abraham who St. Paul often quotes and uses as an example in the New Testament. It is noted that God speaks and acts towards Abraham as one in a relationship, not as a god who is far away. Our faith in Him calls us to make a step forward—to go on a journey with Him, just like Abraham. In this journey, our relationships with God are not just about our faith in Him, but in His faith in us! We can jeopardize this relationship with idolatry. The story of Israel points to the temptation of idolatry—to worship that which we make with our own hands. Finally, the story of faith finds its summation in Jesus. He is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and at the same time shows us why we can trust Him—He died for us! Because He came into our reality, we can now truly see reality. God is not something beyond us; He is someone who acts in the here and now.

Some notable quotes from Chapter 1:

On Abraham:

“Here a unique place belongs to Abraham, our father in faith. Something disturbing takes place in his life: God speaks to him; he reveals himself as a God who speaks and calls his name…Faith thus takes on a personal aspect. God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him.” (No. 8)

"The sight which faith would give to Abraham would always be linked to the need to take this step forward: faith "sees" to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter into the horizons opened up by God’s word." (No. 9)

“As Saint Augustine explains: "Man is faithful when he believes in God and his promises; God is faithful when he grants to man what he has promised.” (No. 10)

On the faith of Israel:

“Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: "Put your trust in me!" Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter. Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history.”

On the Christian faith:

“All the threads of the Old Testament converge on Christ; he becomes the definitive "Yes" to all the promises, the ultimate basis of our "Amen" to God.” (No. 15)

“The clearest proof of the reliability of Christ’s love is to be found in his dying for our sake.” (No. 16)

“Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely.”(No. 16)

“Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. …Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.” (No. 17)

Chapter 2 – Unless You Believe, You Will Not Understand (cf. Isaiah 7:9)

Summary of Chapter 2:

Chapter 2 seeks to understand the relationship between faith and several other aspects—reason, love, truth, and theology. Lumen Fidei shows that truth is necessary for faith so that it can remain grounded. Faith is rooted in reality when it is rooted in truth. Similarly, our love for God has to have this truth as well or it will be fleeting like emotions. Love is needed with faith so that truth does not become cold and impersonal.

Our culture often believes that truth that is meant for everyone is by its very nature like a dictator. But, truth for everyone can reveal a common good for everyone and when it is done in love it can be personalized to each individual.

In the end, truth in the Catholic faith possesses us; we do not possess truth. As we become more possessed by truth, we grow in humility and in the knowledge of the faith. By taking on knowledge and humility, we are more capable of sharing this truth with others who are seeking it. A truth that will truly fulfill what they are ultimately searching for.

Notable quotes from Chapter 2:

Faith and Truth:

“We need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing.” (No. 24).

"Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of this bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age. In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable." (No. 25)

"In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth — and ultimately this means the question of God — is no longer relevant. It would be logical, from this point of view, to attempt to sever the bond between religion and truth, because it seems to lie at the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs." (No. 25)

Knowledge of love and truth:

"Faith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love." (No. 26)

"Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment." (No. 26)

"Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey." (No. 27)

"Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives." (No. 27)

The dialogue between faith and reason:

"Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual. Since it is born of love, it can penetrate to the heart, to the personal core of each man and woman." (No. 34)

"One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all." (No. 34)

"There is no human experience, no journey of man to God, which cannot be taken up, illumined and purified by this light. The more Christians immerse themselves in the circle of Christ’s light, the more capable they become of understanding and accompanying the path of every man and woman towards God." (No. 35)

Summary of Chapter 3:

Ultimately, faith and truth are received in community. The nature of our lives forces us to have faith in the truth others are giving us—from our names to our language. The same is for our Christian faith which is passed on from one generation to the next. We accept this faith in a community and in the communion of the Church.

Specially, the sacraments allow us to experience this faith. We are received into the community of the Church through Baptism and encounter the love and gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, we experience the past gift that God has given us while seeing the future of our eternal home. In addition to the sacraments, the Our Father and the Decalogue gives us a new vision and a new path to live while united to our community. This community stays unified through the apostolic tradition and apostolic succession which safeguards truth and allows our faith to be handed on. Believers must believe in all of what the Church teaches or they endanger unity.

Notable quotes from Chapter 3:

The Church, mother of our faith:

Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves.” (No. 37)

“But how is this possible? How can we be certain, after all these centuries, that we have encountered the "real Jesus"? …I cannot possibly verify for myself something which happened so long ago. But this is not the only way we attain knowledge. Persons always live in relationship. We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others. Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name. Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others.” (No. 38)

“Faith is not simply an individual decision which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart…By its very nature, faith is open to the "We" of the Church; it always takes place within her communion.” (No. 39)

The sacraments and the transmission of faith

Those who are baptized are set in a new context, entrusted to a new environment, a new and shared way of acting, in the Church. Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by entering into the ecclesial communion which transmits God’s gift. (No. 41).

“The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith: an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of his love, the life-giving gift of himself.” (No. 44)

“In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the dimension of history: the Eucharist is an act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery in which the past, as an event of death and resurrection, demonstrates its ability to open up a future, to foreshadow ultimate fulfilment.” (No. 44)

Faith, prayer and the Decalogue

“The Lord’s Prayer, the ‘Our Father’. Here Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through his eyes.” (No. 46)

“The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by his mercy and then to bring that mercy to others.” (No. 46).

The unity and integrity of faith

“We tend to think that a unity of this sort is incompatible with freedom of thought and personal autonomy. Yet the experience of love shows us that a common vision is possible, for through love we learn how to see reality through the eyes of others, not as something which impoverishes but instead enriches our vision.” (No. 47)

“Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole.” (No. 48).

“As a service to the unity of faith and its integral transmission, the Lord gave his Church the gift of apostolic succession. Through this means, the continuity of the Church’s memory is ensured and certain access can be had to the wellspring from which faith flows.” (No. 49)

Chapter 4 – God Prepares a City for Them (cf. Hebrews 11:16)

Summary of Chapter 4

In this final chapter, Lumen Fidei shows how faith should be the foundation of our society. Faith is needed for the foundation of our society, marriage and family. In marriage, men and women have faith in a common good and a hope beyond themselves. In this faith and in this love, they provide a model of faith and a place with faith grows as children place their trust in their parents.

This foundation of family helps form our other relationships as well. Men and women cannot have true brotherhood without a common father. Faith in God provides this common faith so that our societies can endure. It also provides the dignity of the human person which is needed in our societies as well.

Faith also provides strength in suffering. Faith does not answer every question, but provides a lamp to help us navigate through the darkness and the presence of God who is with us personally in our suffering.

In the end, faith should provide us with joy. Just as Mary accepted Jesus with joy, we too should follow her example. The sign of our faith lives should be a joy in Jesus.

Notable quotes from Chapter 4:

“That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human beings can dwell together with one another.” (No. 50)

“Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time.” (No. 51)

Faith and the family:

“Faith is truly a good for everyone; it is a common good. Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope.” (No. 51)

“The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family… Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love.” (No. 52)

A light for life in society:

“Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood. Modernity sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realize that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure.” (No. 54)

“At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (No. 54)

Consolation and strength amid suffering:

“So it was with Saint Francis of Assisi and the leper, or with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil.” (No. 57)

"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." (No. 57)

"To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light." (No. 57)

Blessed is she who believed (Lk 1:45)

Saint Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, uses a striking expression; he tells us that Mary, receiving the message of the angel, conceived "faith and joy". In the Mother of Jesus, faith demonstrated its fruitfulness; when our own spiritual lives bear fruit we become filled with joy, which is the clearest sign of faith’s grandeur.” (No. 58)

"At the centre of our faith is the confession of Jesus, the Son of God, born of a woman, who brings us, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to adoption as sons and daughters (cf. Gal 4:4)." (No. 59)


Question: Do you have any favorite quotes from Lumen Fidei? Please share your thoughts and reflections below.

Do you love Pope Francis? Check out Kevin's two Pope Francis books: A Year of Mercy with Pope Francis and Through the Year with Pope Francis