Pastoral Letter 2013 of Bishop Peter Bürcher

Dear brothers and sisters,

The year of faith 2012-2013, with all its events, is now at its end.

Pope Benedict XVI. said shortly before his resignation: “May these days be a celebration of faith and help us to rediscover the faith of the Church in its beauty and freshness, to acquire it anew and deepen it and proclaim it in a new era.

In the Diocese of Reykjavík as in the universal Church, during this year many events have taken place and here is not the place to list them all. At the beginning we asked ourselves: "what does this year mean personally for each one of us, what do we want to do and change in our lives during the year?"

My personal response was: "I must be a better Christian so I can be a better bishop”. For me, as for all of you, it meant in particular a new and profound conversion to the living God. Because my faith and yours in His Son, Jesus Christ, should through the working of the Holy Spirit be renewed and strengthened in order to proclaim it and to bring it to the world. 50 years ago, on 11th October 1962, Pope John XXIII inaugurated the Second Vatican Council. The Year of Faith began on this anniversary day, the 11th October 2012. The 50th anniversary was a welcome opportunity and impetus at the same time to take note of the rich texts and resolutions of the Council again. Much has been put into practice but even more awaits to be implemented or further developed, possibly even adjusted. For us this year will in particular remain the year of the two popes: two popes who strengthen us with an exemplary faith! Our personal, ecclesial and social life has also been marked by various occurrences. But what remains and where do we go from here? An answer which points us the way could be the famous dream of St. Don Bosco in which the story of a sea battle is told. In this dream, the church is symbolized as a great ship that is attacked by an enemy fleet, was hit many times, but could recover repeatedly its bearings. The helmsman of the great ship finally managed to anchor the ship securely between two pillars that stood out in the sea. The first carried a large host with the inscription: "Salvation of believers", and the other, slightly smaller, with a woman and the inscription: "Help of Christians".

The two pillars symbolize the Holy Eucharist and Mary, the immaculately conceived Virgin and Mother of God. Together with the Pope, these are the three pillars in the life of a Catholic in following Christ our Savior, Christ our King! The most important thing therefore is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "The Eucharist is" the source and summit of the Christian life "(LG 11)."The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (PO 5) 1324. "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking." (Irenaeus, 4,18,5).

Dear brothers and sisters, after this year of faith we all proceed bravely in hope and love! Let us often pray, especially in the Mass, together with our Holy Father: "Lord, I believe, but increase my faith! “ Mary, our Heavenly Mother, will accompany us every day on our way. Amen