Madeleine Wisler, 6, carries a candle during the procession.
This fall, Pope Benedict XVI announced a special “Year of Faith” to help Catholics appreciate the gift of faith, deepen their relationship with God and strengthen their commitment to sharing faith with others.
Archbishop John G. Vlazny marked the start of the Year of Faith Mass at the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception vigil Mass Dec. 7 at St. Mary Cathedral in Northwest Portland.
During his homily, Archbishop Vlazny talked about the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary and her perfect Christian discipleship.
The archbishop shared a quote from St. Ambrose that brings light to what the Gospel says about Mary: “Every soul who has believed both conceives and generates the Word of God and recognizes his works. Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you to magnify the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each one to exalt in Christ.”
Mary trusted in the angel’s message, became God’s mother, and the world has never again been the same, Archbishop Vlazny said. She helps us find that unwavering trust in God, to break down walls that isolate us from God.
“As is evident in today’s gospel, Mary trusted in the Lord,” the archbishop said. “She had some good questions, but she did not demand a full-blown explanation before giving her consent to God’s request. Mary knew that she was loved by God and it made all the difference when the time came for her to trust.”
“Today with the church all over the world, we do pray, ‘Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us,’” he concluded.
Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith with a synod on the New Evangelization held at the Vatican. The Year of Faith observance began Oct. 11 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and concludes Nov. 24, 2013, at the feast of Christ the King.
Pope Benedict said that in addition to studying the catechism and gaining a greater understanding of the creed, the Year of Faith also must be accompanied with more acts of charity. Faith helps people recognize the face of Christ in those who are suffering, and "it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbor along the journey of life," the pope wrote.
— Catholic News Service contributed to this story.