Year of Mercy Dec 2015 - Nov 2016
Preparing for the Journey
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The Jubilee Year of Mercy
In April 2015, on the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy (11th April) Pope Francis proclaimed an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year” i.e. one in addition to the usual 50 or 25year cycle, and it has “Mercy” as its focus. It starts on December 8th 2015 (The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, and also 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council) and continues until the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday November 20th 2016.
What is a Jubilee?
In the early history of God’s people in Israel a Jubilee Year was a time for special honour of God, shown by a change in the way of life. Every seven years fields would be left fallow, for a year of rest, (a Sabbath year), but every fifty years there was a year of Jubilee. In this very special year, any land that had been taken in pledge would be returned to the original owners. Sins were remitted. Universal pardon was granted. Prisoners were released. Slaves were freed. All debts were forgiven. God’s mercy was celebrated. (Lev 25:8-13). In medieval times (1300 AD) Pope Boniface VIII introduced Church Holy Years, every 50 or 25 years. These renew the impetus for “conversion of heart”, which the more ancient Jubilee year always had as its goal.
This leaflet will introduce you to: • Events, Activities, Signs and Symbols of the Jubilee Year of Mercy • Some central teaching of Pope Francis for this year. 2
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1. Events, Activities, Signs & Symbols Opening of Doors
The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope. Pope Francis launches the Jubilee Year with the solemn opening of a door in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, as is usual for a Holy Year. The door becomes a symbol of opening to the fullness of God’s love, and invites us to pass through as a sign that we wish to experience God’s mercy and take it to others. The door represents a new opening for God’s mercy to every heart. Each Christian is called to seek and receive God’s mercy, and convey it to others through whatever doors he or she passes, whatever thresholds he or she crosses, and whoever he or she meets this year. Further Roman Basilicas, all Cathedrals of the Catholic world and many shrines and basilicas will be opening and designating an official Holy Year Door of Mercy.
Suggestions: 1. Find out where your nearest “Jubilee Church” is. 2. Official “doors of mercy” for the Holy Year are only those specified by the Church. In your own home, church, school or appropriate building, you could use the same symbol of a “door of mercy” as a personal help to prayer and action. Put a sign, symbol (e.g. holy water) or prayer by the chosen door. As you pass one way pray that you may experience God’s mercy; as you pass the other way pray that you may take God’s mercy to others.
Missionaries of Mercy will be commissioned by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday 2016 at St Peter’s Basilica. These will be priests from local dioceses and Religious Congregations - patient priests who will assist people to move forward in the context of Penance, compassionate confessors who will emphasise the Father’s welcome. They will be invited to initiate missions in dioceses with a focus on the Sacrament of Penance. Pope Francis gives them the faculty to absolve all sins, even those usually reserved to the Holy See.
Suggestion: When you pray the “Our Father”, pause after the phrase “as we forgive those who trespass against us” and ask God that this may become a deeper reality in your life. Pray for sinners, for confessors, for personal awareness of sin, and for the grace to be repentant. Why not go to confession?
Cover image: Pope Francis, greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s square, Vatican. 2015. © Giulio Napolitano
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Suggestion: Plan to make a Mercy Pilgrimage sometime during the year. If circumstances prevent travel, take a journey instead through personal memories, giving thanks where mercy has been found.
Suggestion: Find out where in your diocese “24 Hours for the Lord” is being celebrated, and join in prayers for mercy before the Lord and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
24 Hours for the Lord.
Suggestions: 1. When you pray through the Sunday scriptures, ask God that the power of his mercy may come in your personal and community life. 2. Choose a psalm of mercy for the year and pray it regularly. 3. Take a patron Saint for the year whose life of mercy impresses you and regularly ask his/her help in your own life. 4
Turn to Scripture.
The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the year because it represents the journey each of us makes through life. Many will travel on pilgrimage to Rome during this year to process through the door of mercy. Many others who are unable to travel to Rome will go on pilgrimage to their own Cathedral, or other shrine which has a door of mercy. Undertaking a pilgrimage is a sign that mercy is a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. Pope Francis has asked that each diocese on the Friday/Saturday before the Fourth Week of Lent 2016 (4th/5th March), celebrate 24 hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, when the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available. One gospel passage Pope Francis calls our attention to is Lk 4:16-22, (Luke’s is the Sunday gospel for the Jubilee Year). As Jesus starts his ministry in Galilee he proclaims the fulfilment of the prophet Isaiah’s words; “He has sent me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives”. Pope Francis asks us to live in that same spirit of Christ. In addition to pointing us to the gospel for help he also brings to our attention psalms of mercy and great saints who lived and taught it.
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Suggestion: Commit yourself to some action through the year which will show you want to be a bearer of God’s mercy (e.g. through one of the works of mercy).
Going out to the marginalised.
During the year, from January to June, Pope Francis will be offering signs to the lonely and marginalised of the world. He encourages us to do the same as individuals and as local churches.
Suggestion: Look at the “Year of Mercy” information as it comes to parishes and try to fulfil the conditions to gain an indulgence, (for ourselves or those who have gone before us).
Pope Francis indicates that, as is usual in Jubilee Years, there will be granting of Indulgences during the year. Specific details will be available, and usually conditions involve an individual sharing in the Jubilee Year by sacraments (especially Reconciliation and Eucharist), by specified prayers and by pilgrimage. Our understanding of an indulgence’s “remission of temporal punishment due to sin, whose guilt has already been forgiven (CCC 1471)” (usually following Confession and absolution), reminds us of the common root of indulgences and penances given in Sacramental Reconciliation. Indulgences are intended to “spur us to works of devotion and charity” (CCC 1478). Christ Pantocrator. Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul, Turkey.© Faraways
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2. Some central teaching for this year: “Merciful like the Father” Pope Francis...
Reminds us that in mercy, we find proof of how God loves us. He gives his entire self, always, freely, asking nothing in return. He comes to our aid whenever we call upon him. What a beautiful thing that the Church begins her daily prayer with the words, “O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me!” (Ps 70:2) The assistance we ask for is already the first step of God’s mercy toward us.
Calls us to recognise that: Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. Jesus
of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God. Asks us to Contemplate Mercy: Mercy, which is a wellspring of joy, serenity, peace. Mercy, on which our salvation depends. Mercy, which reveals the Trinitarian mystery. Mercy, which is the greatest act of God through which he meets us. Mercy, which is a law indwelling the heart of those who look at their brothers & sisters on the path of life. Mercy, which is a bridge connecting God and man opening our hearts to the hope of being loved. Mercy will always be greater than any sin.
Beatitude of the Year
At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence, and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully. Let us therefore heed the Apostle’s exhortation: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). Above all, let us listen to the words of Jesus who made mercy an ideal of life and a criterion for the credibility of 6
Face of Jesus Christ. by Leopold Upelwieser. side altar of baroque st. Peter church or Peterskirche, Vienna, Austria. © Renata Sedmakova.
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ose of life. man
our faith: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7): the beatitude to which we should particularly aspire in this Holy Year.
Teachers of Mercy
Reminds us of some great teachers of mercy…
Pope Saint John XXIII when, opening the Second Vatican Council, indicated the path to follow: “Now the Bride of Christ [the Church] wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity…” Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that God’s mercy is the mark of his omnipotence (the total power God has), rather than a sign of weakness, The author of the book of Psalms reminds us: “For his mercy endures forever.” This is the refrain that repeats after each verse in Psalm 136 as it narrates the history of God’s revelation. Mercy renders God’s history with Israel a history of salvation. Saint Bede the Venerable, commenting on Mt 9:9, wrote that Jesus looked upon Matthew “with merciful love and chose him.” This expression impressed Pope Francis so much that he chose it for his episcopal motto: “miserando atque eligendo”. Pope Francis, meets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square, Vatican. 2014. © Giulio Napolitano
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Suggestions: Use Pope Francis’s images as a starting point for your personal prayer. e.g. . When you look at holy pictures of Jesus, (the face of the Father’s mercy) or at a crucifix, ask for awareness of his mercy in your life. Use other images too e.g. He directs us to the Trinity: Take each divine person of the Trinity (or one of the other images which Pope Francis gives above) and reflect on how mercy is shown. Ask How?, Why?, When?, Who?, With what love?, With what sacrifice?, With what fruit? …we are blessed with the mercy of God in this image or this truth which he calls to our attention? And listen/look in your heart to the words or images which come to you.
In the parables of mercy, God is always presented as full of joy, especially when he pardons. We share his mercy – Not seventy times but seventy times seven … (Mt 18:22) Pope Saint John Paul II writes in his encyclical on mercy (Dives in Misericordia): “The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy – the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer – and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser”. The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.
Works of Mercy
Calls us to rediscover the: Corporal works of mercy: • to feed the hungry, • give drink to the thirsty, • clothe the naked, • welcome the stranger, • heal the sick, • visit the imprisoned, • bury the dead.
Suggestion: Either commit to memory the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, or read more fully the teachings of a Saint renowned for mercy. Use these as an inspiration for your own life of mercy. 8
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Spiritual works of mercy: • to counsel the doubtful, • instruct the ignorant, • admonish sinners, • comfort the afflicted, • forgive offences, • bear patiently those who do us ill, • pray for the living and dead.
Justice and Mercy. Reminds us that these are not two contradictory realities, but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love. Reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, Jesus says to the Pharisees raising objections to him, “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’.”
Calls for change of life to those whose lives are currently involved with corruption and criminal organisations. Regarding corruption he says; “If we want to drive it out from personal and social life we need prudence, vigilance, loyalty, transparency, together with the courage to denounce any wrongdoing.”
Sharing with other Faiths.
Asks us to look to other faiths, too, and our desire for mercy gives us a starting point for dialogue and a gift to share e.g. Characteristics which Islam attributes to the Creator are “Merciful and Kind”.
Mary Mother of Mercy.
Invites us to address Mary in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.
Calls our attention, also, to the great apostle of mercy, Saint Faustina Kowalska. (Saint of Devotion to Divine Mercy) “May she, who was called to enter the depths of divine mercy, intercede for us and obtain for us the grace of living and walking always according to the mercy of God and with an unwavering trust in his love.”
Icon of Mary & The Christ Child. © MIna Anton
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Salve Regina: Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Some Psalm verses for the Year of Mercy •
The Lord watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin Ps 146:7-9. • He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds… The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground Ps 147:3, 6. • For his mercy endures forever. This is the refrain that repeats after each verse in Psalm 136. • O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me Ps 70:2. • Some verses indicating that God’s justice is his mercy are found in Ps 51:11-16.
Christ healing blind man by Antonio Trevisan, Church San Francesco della Vigna, Venice, Italy. © Renata Sedmakova
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Some other scripture verses • The Father, “rich in mercy” Eph 2:4,
is a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness Ex 34:6. • Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father cf. Jn 14:9. • Jesus felt deep compassion cf. Mt 9:36. On the basis of this compassionate love he healed the sick who were presented to him cf. Mt 14:14, and with just a few loaves of bread and fish he satisfied the enormous crowd cf. Mt 15:37. • What moved Jesus in all of these situations was nothing other than mercy, with which he read the hearts of those he encountered and responded to their deepest need. • The widow of Nain cf. Lk 7:15, the Gerasene demoniac Mk 5:19, mercy parables e.g. Lk 15:1-32. • Teaching on forgiveness Mt 18:22,
Suggestions: Commit yourself to regularly praying and reflecting on the “Hail Holy Queen” (Salve Regina), and/or to the prayers of Divine Mercy, and the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday (the day Pope Francis chose to announce the Jubilee Year of Mercy, always celebrated a week after Easter).
• May the words of the Apostle accompany
us: he who does acts of mercy, let him do them with cheerfulness cf. Rom12:8.
Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
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10 Suggestions for the Year For more information on the jubilee year of mercy visit www.im.va
May each of us this year be aware of God’s mercy more deeply and be renewed in celebrating, living and sharing this mercy daily.
Commit to memory the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Use these as an inspiration for your own life of mercy.
Commit yourself to some action through the year which will show you want to be a bearer of God’s mercy (e.g. through one of the works of mercy).
When you look at holy pictures of Jesus, or a crucifix, ask for the awareness of his mercy in your life.
Make a commitment to avail yourself of God’s mercy in the great Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Holy Door at St Peters’ Basilica, Rome
Undertake a “Jubilee Year of Mercy” Pilgrimage.
Why not visit Vatican website: www.im.va 12
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Take part in the “24 Hours for the Lord” on 5th/6th March 2016.
Choose a psalm of mercy for the year and pray it regularly.
When you pray through the Sunday scriptures, ask God that the power of his mercy may come in your personal and community life.
Take a patron Saint for the year whose life of mercy impresses you and regularly ask his/her help in your own life.
Commit yourself to regularly praying and reflecting on the Salve Regina and prayers of Divine Mercy.
Why not visit CTSbooks.org
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Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator, The Cathedral of Monreale, Italy. © Perspectivestock 13
Some reading to prepare for
Spiritual Works of Mercy
Corporal Works of Mercy
Mgr Paul Grogan £2.50 SP46 A6 Paperback 64pp
Mercy in Action
ISBN: 978 1 78469 087 8
Mgr Richard Atherton £2.50 SP45 A6 Paperback 48pp ISBN: 978 1 78469 080 9
Most Christians want to live an active faith yet struggle to do so. Engaging in ‘spiritual works of mercy’ enables us to become agents of a loving God towards others.
Acts of mercy are often terribly ordinary. Rather than leave them to others, why not reflect on the spiritual and practical matters that Pope Francis recommends for the Year of Mercy.
Mercy Works Practical Love for the 21st Century Mark P. Shea £2.50 PA25 A6 Paperback 80pp ISBN: 978 1 78469 076 2
Mark Shea gives examples of people who have performed the works of mercy and advice on how we can share God’s mercy in the twenty first Century.
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are for the Year of Mercy
The Door of Mercy
In the words and life of Pope Francis
David Baldwin £2.50 D800 A6 Paperback 88pp
Fr Ivano Millico £2.50 DO911 A6 Paperback 80pp
ISBN: 978 1 78469 077 9
£4.50 Inc VAT PC99-P Fold-out A7 Pack of 20 EAN: 506 0 13900 067 3
ISBN: 978 1 78469 079 3
We are pilgrims, called to pass through the ‘door of mercy’ in this Year of Mercy. In a world where many feel beyond forgiveness, let’s start out to discover what mercy truly is.
Mary Mother of Mercy Folded Prayer Card
In our modern world, pilgrimage is on the increase. Here are reasons why, together with good insights, reasons and destinations for anyone contemplating a pilgrim journey.
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Beautiful Fold-out Prayer card. Pope Francis invites us all in this ‘Year of Mercy’ 2015-16 to invoke Mary, our Mother, and the Mother of Mercy. Here are prayers to carry with you every day. 15
Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee
ord 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. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”
ou are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
end your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
e ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. Pope Francis greets the pilgrims, St Peter’s Square, Vatican, Rome. © Giulio Napolitano
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