Year of Mercy
Pope Francis declared that we will celebrate an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the upcoming liturgical year. On December 8, 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th Anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis opened a Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica that remains sealed except during jubilee years. When he crossed the threshold, the door became a “Door of Mercy.” In the weeks that followed, Holy Doors were opened by cardinals and bishops in basilicas, cathedrals, and shrines all over the world. On November 20, 2016, the feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis will close the Holy Door of Mercy, marking the end of the jubilee year.
There is a tremendous need for mercy in our world today. Pope Francis wants our parishes to become “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference.” Pope Francis envisions a year when people will become more merciful in their own lives and bring God’s mercy to others.
How We Can Celebrate the Jubilee
Pope Francis asks each of us to celebrate by showing to others the mercy God constantly extends to all of us.
Here are some things you can do:
* Contemplate Mercy
By contemplating mercy, we begin to see how God gives himself to us and asks for nothing in return.
* Don’t Judge or Condemn
Refraining from judgment and condemnation is an act of mercy because it allows us to accept the good in every person and spare that person suffering caused by our negative attitudes.
Jesus asks us to forgive others in the same way that we have received forgiveness from God.
* Listen to God’s Word
As we grow in our understanding of mercy, we can better incorporate mercy into our lives.
* Go on a Pilgrimage
Pope Francis hopes that we will make a pilgrimage to a Holy Door in Rome or in our diocese where we can receive special graces granted during the jubilee year.
* Recognize the Need for Mercy
During the jubilee, we are called to recognize human misery in our world and reach out to those in need of mercy.
* Practice the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
We practice the corporal works of mercy when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor. We practice spiritual works of mercy when we counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, comfort the sorrowful, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
* Change Our Hearts
The ultimate goal of the Year of Mercy is to help us change our hearts and our lives so we can become conduits of God’s mercy in everything that we say and do, especially in living our sacraments centered in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Pope Francis Prayer for the Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ,
You have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.