Most of us have heard of the jubilee year of mercy or at least the works of mercy that Pope Francis- everyone’s favorite pope now – has been singing about. Wikipedia has this to say: the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a Roman Catholic period of prayer held from the Feast of Immaculate Conception (December 8), 2015 to the Feast of Christ the King (November 20), 2016. A jubilee year is seen by the Church as a period for remission of sins and universal pardon focusing particularly on God’s forgiveness and mercy. This is an extraordinary Jubilee because it does not follow the pattern of ordinary jubilees which take place every 25 years and it had not been predetermined long before.
The 2016 Jubilee was first announced by Pope Francis on March 13, 2015. It was declared in the Pope’s April 2015 papal bull of indiction, Misericordiae Vultus (“The Face of Mercy”) which outlines the very course and direction of the Jubilee It is the 27th holy year in history, following the ordinary 2000 jubilee during John Paul II papacy. The opening day was also the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. How cool is that!
But enough of the big grammar… What exactly is this year of mercy? Any events to mark the year? What is expected of us in this year of mercy?
I want to believe that the ‘intro’ above has answered the first question. In addition, it is a period which emphasizes the importance of mercy and the need to ‘gaze’ on it; the bull also recalls the need for the Church to be more open, keeping alive the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
A few things Pope Francis wants us to keep in mind
- Jesus is the “face” of the Father’s mercy; get to know more about him in the gospels.
- Mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel”; hence it is a crucial aspect of evangelism.
- Mercy “demands justice”
Unique characteristics of the year include:
- The door of mercy and indulgences attached,
- The prayer and hymn for the year of mercy, (they are lovely and easy to learn). See more at im.va
- Numerous acts of mercy.
The door of mercy
The Door of Mercy is a special Holy Door which Pope Francis has asked to be opened in every Diocese during the Extraordinary Holy Year in order to allow the faithful in every part of the world to experience the Mercy of the Father in its fullness. As it won’t be possible for everyone to make a pilgrimage to that in Rome, we can make mini-pilgrimages feasible for all Catholics. The same grace that is associated with the holy door in Rome will be associated with the local Holy Doors. That of Archdiocese of Lagos is at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Marina, Lagos and the door is open every Tuesday.
Indulgence and Conditions
The season of grace which is the Jubilee of Mercy, will naturally be characterized by the possibility of obtaining the plenary indulgence through certain pious exercises culminating in entering through the Holy Door, the Door of Mercy. These pious exercises will accompany the prayer and celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist as concrete signs of conversion and “immersion” in the Mercy of the Father.
Another great event this year is the World Youth Day in Poland (WYD July 24 – August 1,2016) with a theme; Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Mt 5:7) A theme most appropriate in this year of mercy.
What is expected of us?
The motto of the year: Merciful Like the Father (Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure ( Lk 6:37-38). These twelve months, we are to focus on and deepen our gratitude for the mercy of God as well as being messengers of mercy. We can go out to every man and woman, bringing goodness and tenderness of God!
Ideas for Living Mercy during the Jubilee Year
- Practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy (we’ll talk about that in another post).
- Get Involved Locally. Find local organizations that practice mercy by learning about and addressing poverty.
- Engage Your Faith Community. With your faith community, use Pope Francis’ prayer for the Jubilee Year (it is a beautiful short prayer, to pray, reach out, learn, and act during the year)
So let hit the ground running, we are already four months behind!