Beginning Tuesday, December 8th , the Catholic Church will begin to celebrate the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Throughout the 2016 liturgical year, the Church around the world is participating in, celebrating, contemplating, and commemorating God’s mercy in our lives. Pope Francis in his papal bull, Misericordiae Vultus, discusses what the Jubilee should look like:
“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.”
What is happening from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016 during the Jubilee? Beginning on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will open up the holy door of St. Peter’s Basilica and allow all who enter to receive a plenary indulgence for their pilgrimage to the site. Pope Francis has emphasized the wish for individual dioceses by the power of the local bishops around the world to open their designated holy doors, in a sign of solidarity and universal pilgrimage for all people to attend and receive this grace.
During the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis has called all of us to place special emphasis on understanding Christ’s mercy and how we can show that mercy to others. For myself, I will try to put special emphasis on what it means to show mercy by using the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as a guide throughout 2016. The Works of Mercy have always served as a good way of measuring what I am called to do as a Catholic. Throughout the year, I would like to commit to praying for others in addition to my family, friends, and myself. I would like to pray especially for those I do not know: the imprisoned, the homeless, and those suffering in silence—that all may know of the mercy of God.
Even though I am a volunteer catechist at my local parish, I still want to try to incorporate more works of mercy into my life. As much as it may help others, it ultimately provides me an opportunity to express my faith and learn and grow in my appreciation of God. In simple acts of charity, such as donating platelets frequently for those who are victims of cancers and accidents in my local area, I hope to express the understanding of mercy that we are trying to emphasize during the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy. It is my hope that this year you and your family will take an intentional step to incorporate the Works of Mercy into your family prayer life and live more fully the mission of Christ in the world today.