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The Church is celebrating an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy from Dec. 8, 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to Nov. 20, 2016, the feast of Christ the King. The date will also be the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, which was easily the most ground-breaking Catholic gathering of the 20th century.
Pope Francis, who announced the year in March 2015, has said that it is his wish that "the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective."
What is the Year of Mercy?
The Year of Mercy is an invitation—an invitation to love, kindness, and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering you the opportunity to encounter the incredible mercy of God.
Encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform your life, your relationships, your work, and your ability to embrace and experience all of life.
Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, Pope Francis called for the Year of Mercy -a special period, also known as a Holy Year of Jubilee Year, for the catholic Church. It is a time for the Church across the world to take approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way.
Pope Francis has asked us as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy” by reflecting on and practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy (Pope Francis’ Announcement of the Year of Mercy). The Holy Year of Mercy will focus on studying and reflecting on mercy, receiving mercy, and being merciful towards others.
What is a Jubilee Year?
A Jubilee Year is when the Catholic Church across the world takes approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way. Catholics are encouraged to join together in prayer, go to confession, and share the genius of Catholicism with others.
The purpose of a Jubilee Year is to help people grow spiritually, strengthen their faith, and encourage works of service, and to promote unity within the Catholic Church and society in general.
How can we show others the mercy of God? We say that God is compassionate, but we ignore the poor. We say that God loves us and has mercy on us, but we hold grudges against our friends. Our actions need to authentically reflect God's mercy. Click below to explore the different ways that you can live out that mercy every day!
Mercy with Francis . . .
Throughout the year, Pope Francis will do "Jubilee" signs of mercy. Find out what they are and how you can do something similar in your life!
Check out these short monthly suggestions for working mercy into your everyday life.
Reflect more deeply on God's call to mercy through these monthly scripture reflections. Do them on your own, with family, or with small groups.
Want to share where you see Mercy in Motion? Check out our social media pages to see what others are doing to put #mercyinmotion.
What Should I Do for the Year of Mercy?
Accepting Pope Francis’ invitation for the Year of Mercy is an incredible opportunity to grow. Here are top ways to experience the Year of Mercy. The last Jubilee Year was in 2000, called for by Pope Saint John Paul II.
First and foremost, receive God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. Before we can give mercy to others, we must receive it from God, who is always quick to forgive our transgressions. Take some time to go to the Sacrament of Confession throughout the Year of Mercy, perhaps even every month.
Second, practice mercy to others. In the Catholic tradition, there are seven Corporal Works of Mercy, and seven Spiritual Works of Mercy. During the Year of Mercy, make an effort to practice these Works of Mercy in ways that perhaps you had not in the past. God’s mercy never tires, and we should never tire of practicing mercy either!
Finally, pray for all those who need mercy in their lives. In our fallen world, there are many who are suffering, both physically and spiritually. Pray for those in desperate need of God's mercy, that they might find it in their lives.
Throughout the year, Dioceses around the world, will be promoting mercy in all their activities and programs. Pope Francis, in calling the Year of Mercy, is asking us all to focus on mercy in our lives and in our world. Take the opportunity during this Holy Year to make mercy the central virtue of your life.
The Works of Mercy
The works of mercy are the practical ways we live out mercy. They are how we show loving kindness, compassion, and self-restraint to the people around us, both physically and spiritually. According to the Catechism, “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities” (No. 2447). While the exact list has varied slightly throughout the history of the Church, there are 14 consistently recognized works of mercy.
Corporal Works of Mercy
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Harbour the harbourless
- Visit the sick
- Ransom the captive
- Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Admonish sinners
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive offenses willingly
- Comfort the afflicted
- Pray for the living and the dead
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Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy
You 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.
Send 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.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Excerpted from Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy