By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Luke 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Luke 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Luke 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Matthew 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. John 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Luke 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts of the Apostles 1:14; 2:1-4).
By faith, the Apostles left everything to follow their Master (cf. Mark 10:28). They believed the words with which he proclaimed the Kingdom of God present and fulfilled in his person (cf. Luke 11:20). They lived in communion of life with Jesus who instructed them with his teaching, leaving them a new rule of life, by which they would be recognized as his disciples after his death (cf. John 13:34-35). By faith, they went out to the whole world, following the command to bring the Gospel to all creation (cf. Mark 16:15) and they fearlessly proclaimed to all the joy of the resurrection, of which they were faithful witnesses.
By faith, the disciples formed the first community, gathered around the teaching of the Apostles, in prayer, in celebration of the Eucharist, holding their possessions in common so as to meet the needs of the brethren (cf. Acts 2:42-47).
By faith, the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.
By faith, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ, leaving all things behind so as to live obedience, poverty and chastity with Gospel simplicity, concrete signs of waiting for the Lord who comes without delay. By faith, countless Christians have promoted action for justice so as to put into practice the word of the Lord, who came to proclaim deliverance from oppression and a year of favour for all (cf. Luke 4:18-19).
By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Revelations 7:9, 13:8), have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the Charisms and ministries to which they were called.
By faith, we too live: by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.
14. The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As Saint Paul reminds us: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). With even stronger words – which have always placed Christians under obligation – Saint James said: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:14-18).
Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13; cf. Revelations 21:1).
15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Timothy 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.
“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Thessalonians 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Colossians 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Luke 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.
Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Luke 1:45).
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 October in the year 2011, the seventh of my Pontificate.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
 Homily for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 710.
 Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily at Holy Mass in Lisbon’s “Terreiro do Paço” (11 May 2010): Insegnamenti VI:1 (2010), 673.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 113-118.
 Cf. Final Report of the Second Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (7 December 1985), II, B, a, 4 in Enchiridion Vaticanum, ix, n. 1797.
 Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Petrum et Paulum Apostolos on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul (22 February 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 196.
 Ibid., 198.
 Paul VI, Credo of the People of God, cf. Homily at Mass on the XIX centenary of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul at the conclusion of the “Year of Faith” (30 June 1968): AAS 60 (1968), 433-445.
 Paul VI, General Audience (14 June 1967): Insegnamenti V (1967), 801.
 John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (6 January 2001), 57: AAS 93 (2001), 308.
 Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 52.
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 8.
 De Utilitate Credendi, I:2.
 Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, I:1.
 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10.
 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 116.
 Sermo 215:1.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 167.
 Cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, chap. III: DS 3008-3009: Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 5.
 Benedict XVI, Address at the Collège des Bernardins, Paris (12 September 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 722.
 Cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, XIII:1.
 John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (11 October 1992): AAS 86 (1994), 115 and 117.
 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998), 34, 106: AAS 91 (1999), 31-32, 86-87.