Your Year of Mercy
In Misericordiae Vultus, the Holy Father outlined a series of practical suggestions to help a Catholic celebrate the Year of Mercy. Those suggestions include:
1. Go to Confession
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the Sacrament of Mercy. In the confessional, God freely offers His forgiveness to all who ask for it with a sincere heart and a genuine purpose of amendment. He requires no payment and no sacrifice; He took care of that Himself long ago on Calvary. Instead, all God asks is that we show up. If we do our part, He does His.
2. Read Conversion Stories
Through the centuries, conversion stories have challenged, comforted, and, encouraged millions of people on their journey to God. They offer concrete examples of God’s mercy. They remind us that no one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy, and, they help us better understand our personal journey to holiness.
Above all, conversion stories witness to the fact that we all are called to conversion.
Without conversion – without choosing Christ once and then repeatedly thereafter- there can be no discipleship.
3. Perform Works of Mercy
God calls us to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). This year and always, being a “doer” entails performing Works of Mercy, both Corporal and Spiritual. Jesus, Pope Francis explains, “introduces us to these Works of Mercy in His preaching, so that we can know whether or not we are living as His disciples”
(MV, No. 15). Jesus also tells us we will be judged on how we cared for the least of our brothers and sisters and that performing works of mercy helps us to see our own spiritual poverty in the faces of the materially and spiritually poor (see Matt 25:34-46; MV, No. 15).
4. Go on Pilgrimage
As the Pope explains, when we travel to a Sacred place, we remember that “Life itself is a pilgrimage, and, the human being is a viator, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination” (MV, No. 14). We also come to see mercy
not as a cheap handout, but rather as a priceless gift, which cost Christ His life (MV, NO. 14).
5. Walk Through a Holy Door
During this Jubilee of Mercy, not only will the Holy Doors in Rome open for pilgrims, but Pope Francis also has asked that every cathedral and basilica around the world set up a similar door; a Door of Mercy. The doors themselves symbolize Christ, Who called Himself “the door” to eternal life (John 10:9). For pilgrims, to walk through the Holy Doors is to walk, in spirit, from sin to grace and from death to life, acknowledging Christ as the only way to the Father.
6. Obtain Indulgences
Through the centuries, by God’s grace, holy men and women have done good works.The more they’ve done that - the more they’ve responded to God’s grace with faithful, loving obedience – the more grace God has poured out upon them. Through this loving, fruitful exchange, something like an excess of merit and grace builds up. We call this excess “The Treasury of the Saints,” and as Pope Francis explains it, “[the saints’] holiness comes to the aid of our weakness in a way that enables the Church, with her maternal prayers and her way of life, to fortify the weakness of some with the strength of others” (MV, No. 22).
7. Read Scripture
Sacred Scripture is both the Word of God and the story of God in time. It traces the history of God’s dealings with men, recalling His merciful provisions for humanity. God’s mercy cannot be understood apart from the Bible. Which is why Pope Francis has called upon the faithful to ponder its pages more closely this coming year.
8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
Through a series of private revelations, God showed St. Faustina a glimpse into the depths of His mercy. He then tasked her with sharing that glimpse with the world and teaching others to implore God’s mercy through the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Although St. Faustina especially urged people to pray the prayer in nine days before the Feast of Divine Mercy (the Sunday after Easter), it’s also commonly prayed after Holy Communion, at the bedside of the sick and dying, and, during the Hour of Mercy-
the hour of Christ’s death, 3:00 PM – every afternoon.
9. Forgive Others
Ultimately, we cannot live the Year of Mercy, unless we’re merciful. We can pray, sacrifice, read Scripture, go on pilgrimage, and walk through Holy Doors. But, unless we strive to forgive those who’ve hurt us, we’re missing the point. It’s the merciful who obtain mercy, so if we want to receive mercy during this great jubilee and become
witnesses we’re called to be, we have to extend it to others (see Matt 5:7).
Bishop Edward C. Malesic designated five Holy Doors in churches throughout the Diocese of Greensburg as “Pilgrimage Churches.”
Over the coming months, dates for “Day of Mercy Masses at the Churches of Pilgrimages” will be announced in The Catholic Accent.
The five churches are as follows: Sts. Simon and Jude, Blairsville, PA; St. Vincent Basilica,
Latrobe, PA; Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg, PA; St. Francis of Assisi, Footedale, PA; and Christ Prince of Peace, Ford City, PA.
We need constantly to contemplate the “Mystery of Mercy” as Pope Francis writes in “MisericordiaeVultus,” announcing December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016, as the Year of Mercy. “It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and, peace. Our salvation depends on it.”
In the Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, he shares a prayer of a disciple:
“Strengthen me, O God, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Give me power to be strengthened in the inner man, and, to cast out of my heart all unprofitable care and trouble. Teach me to look upon all things as passing, and, myself as soon to pass away with them.”
During Lent, many people think of “giving up” something as a sacrifice. This is well and good; however, it is necessary for us to DO something that perhaps we have neglected to do previously. Pope Francis has been reminding the world that we need to be more aware of what we can DO for the poor and outcast… of sacrifices that we can personally make to help others who are in need. Taking
these words to heart can make it a more meaningful season of reflection and preparation for the coming of the Lord at Easter.
Don’t forget the two feast days in March: St. Patrick on March 17th and St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus, on March 19th.
FRIDAYS during Lent are really special!
You can gain a Plenary Indulgence on each Lenten Friday by your reciting the Prayer before a Crucifix!
“Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself on my knees in Your sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul I pray and beseech You that You would impress upon my heart lively sentiments of Faith, Hope, and, Charity, with a true repentance for my sins, and a firm desire of amendment, while with deep affection and grief of soul. I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate. Your five most precious wounds; that which David spoke in prophecy of You, O good Jesus: “They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones.” Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be to the Father
The Vatican’s “Book of Indulgences” states:
• You must have confession within 8 days and be in the state of grace
(with no attachment to even a venial sin).
• You must receive Holy Communion on the day of the indulgence.
• You must say 2 prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions.
• You must be aware of and ask for the Indulgence.
• Only one plenary indulgence per day; ask it for yourself or for a Holy Soul in Purgatory or for the intentions of our Blessed Mother.
Gloria M, Kanick
Chairman, Church Commission
Reverend Thomas Federline, Spiritual Advisor
Resources: Franciscan Way; Vatican.com; Father Emil Payer;
Your Year of Mercy