About the Year of Mercy
In March 2015, Pope Francis announced that the Roman Catholic Church would celebrate a Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8, 2015) and concluding on the Feast of Christ the King (November 20, 2016). Earlier this week, Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy by opening the Holy Door at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Overall, the primary focus of this extraordinary jubilee year is an ongoing invitation to all people to experience God’s forgiveness, love, and mercy through prayer, worship, and the Sacraments of the Church.
The tradition of the jubilee year is rooted in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus (Lev 25:8-13). In 1300, Pope Boniface VIII convoked the first jubilee year in the Roman Catholic Church and offered all believers an opportunity for universal forgiveness of sins. Since then, such holy or jubilee years have been celebrated every 25 or 50 years. The Catholic Church last celebrated a Jubilee Year in 2000 to mark the beginning of a new millennium. This Jubilee Year of Mercy is “extraordinary” because the Holy Father broke from tradition and announced it without advance notice or planning.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we will celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy with special programs and events throughout the year, beginning with our first “Mercy Friday” on December 11th (see below). Other programs will include opportunities for scripture study, individual and group spiritual direction, mini-courses and retreats all focused on offering our parishioners and friends opportunities to deepen their personal relationships with the Lord and to experience God’s love and mercy in their own lives. For more information, please see me or contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and blessings to all,
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Jubilee Year of Mercy
Friday, December 11th
All are invited to join Father Jim and the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport as we begin the Jubilee Year with “Mercy Friday” on December 11th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. Our vigil of prayer will begin at 12:00pm with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament & Daytime Prayer. At 3:00pm, we will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. From 5:00pm until 6:00pm, confessions will be heard in the sacristy. And at 6:30pm, we will conclude with Evening Prayer (with homily) and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us for all or part of this beautiful day of prayer! All are welcome!
Special Guest Message
Mercy: The Essence of God
By Archbishop Rino Fisichella
President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
On March 13, 2015, on the second anniversary of his election to the papal chair, Pope Francis announced an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. This unexpected announcement caught everyone by surprise; yet the fact that he wanted a Jubilee Year dedicated to mercy shouldn’t shock us. In fact, from his first Angelus on Sunday, March 17, 2013, his attention has been focused on mercy, which he defined right away as the “foundation of faith.” Over the last two years, Pope Francis has made constant references to mercy, both in his actions and writings, culminating in the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee Year, entitled “Misericordiae Vultus” or translated into English as the “Face of Mercy.”
Mercy is indeed the heart of the Christian message and the very essence of God. Looking to Sacred Scripture, the Psalms stand out. They reflect the life of every man and woman: birth and death, the sufferings of sickness and the pain of abandonment, war and peace, solitude and the search for God. They are also more broadly a reflection of the cosmos, of the plight of Israel and salvation history. The Psalms are the voice of God that becomes the prayer of those who place themselves in his presence, knowing that they need his love. The Psalter expresses the grandeur of divine action with great clarity: “He pardons all your sins and heals all your ills. He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with mercy and compassion (Psalm 103:3-4).”
The person of Jesus is the culmination and fulfillment of the Father’s merciful action: “Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). Pope Francis reminds us that mercy is not an abstract idea, but rather a person to encounter, a face to contemplate. It’s precisely in fixing our gaze on Jesus and his face filled with mercy that we can begin to understand the Love of the Trinity. One way that Jesus manifests the Father’s mercy is in his teachings. For example, in his parables, Jesus presents a God who is full of joy, especially when he forgives. Specifically, the Pope directs our attention to the parable of the lost sheep, the missing coin, and the forgiving father with his two sons (See Luke 15:1-22).
Over the course of history, mercy has been reflected and lived out in the lives of many saints who have made it their one aim in life, despite the difficult situations in which they found themselves in life. To these saints we must add the countless simple men and women whose “names are written in the book of life (Revelation 13:8)”, who brought Christ’s teaching to life through their daily faithfulness to the Gospel, putting various works of mercy into practice. The words of the Holy Father at the end of the Bull announcing the Year of Mercy (and their deep significance) come to mind: “Our prayer also extends to the saints and blessed ones who made divine mercy their mission in life (Misericordiae Vultus, 24).”
Pope Francis’s invocation of an extraordinary Holy Year is a sign of the attention and witness that he offers daily to the Church and to the world. Now, that call is extended to everyone: “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 his people, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sin- fulness (Misericordiae Vultus, 2).”
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is an extraordinary occasion to give strength and vigor to that which makes up the ordinary life of the Church and of every Christian: living as a sign of God’s nearness and his tenderness. It is an immense and demanding challenge, especially in the cultural context of our day, which is unfortunately characterized so often by violence and oppression. Pope Francis calls the Church’s atten- tion back to this, reminding her of her mission: “May the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy; and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: ‘Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old (Psalm 25:6).’” Amen!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our worship sites include Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information about becoming a member of one of our parishes, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!
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