Year of Mercy: What is it all about? What can we expect? Pope Francis ushered in the Year of Mercy yesterday. This Jubilee Year of Mercy extends to the Feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. From now until then, anyone who enters through the “Door of Mercy…will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.” 1
What is this “Year of Mercy” all about?
Pope Francis declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy “so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives” 2. Our world has become so fractured and broken with much hatred. We see it in the warring conflicts in the Middle East; in human trafficking; in the discord of discourse. We see evil everywhere. What is the remedy? What is the necessary virtue needed for a change in course? Mercy! For when we extend our own mercy to our neighbor, we pour out the love of God. This pouring out of love, in the form of Mercy is a powerful weapon against evil.
What can we expect?
This Year of Mercy will be filled with opportunities for repentance, especially during the Lenten season, when the Church will offer a specific initiative called “24 hours for the Lord.” This will occur “on the Friday/Saturday preceding the Fourth Week in Lent” 3. During this 24 hour period, within every diocese, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered to bring people back to the Lord.
The Holy See will send out Missionaries of Mercy this upcoming Lent; priests with special authority to pardon those sins usually reserved to only the Holy See for forgiveness 4.
We can also expect the granting of plenary indulgences 5. We have already begun to see that with the Vatican granting a plenary indulgence for venerating the relics of St. Maria Goretti, a saint known for her forgiveness and mercy. To receive a plenary indulgence (meaning all time in Purgatory is wiped clean from the slate up to the moment in your life when you receive the plenary indulgence) Catholics must do the following:
- Attend Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist any time within eight days preceding the decreed event, or eight days following the decreed event.
- Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation any time within eight days preceding the decreed event, or eight days following the decreed event.
- Say a Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be for the Holy Father’s intentions during this window for the receipt of the plenary indulgence.
- Have a contrite heart and desire to sin no more.
What can we do to participate?
In this upcoming Year of Mercy, seek the Lord’s Mercy for your own soul and for those that you love. Enter into the suffering, with true compassion, throughout the year to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned and bury the dead. Instruct, console, advise, comfort, forgive and bear wrongs patiently. Don’t let this wondrous Year of Mercy pass by without seeking and giving mercy!
1 Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Vaticano: Holy See, 2015, n 3.
2 Ibid, n 3.
3 Ibid n 17.
4 Ibid n 18.
5 Ibid n 22.