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Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

Dec. 8, 2015

Opening Date: 8th December 2015
– Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Closing Date: 20thNovember 2016
– Solemnity of Christ the King

“With these sentiments of gratitude for everything the Church has received, and with a sense of responsibility for the task that lies ahead, we shall cross the threshold of the Holy Door fully confident that the strength of the Risen Lord, who constantly supports us on our pilgrim way, will sustain us. May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers in cooperating with the work of salvation wrought by Christ, lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the face of mercy.” - Pope Francis (Bull ofIndictionMisericordiaeVultus)

On December 8, 2015, the ritual opening of the Holy Door of Mercy in the Basilica of St. Peter will mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Door of Mercy is a special Holy Door that is seen as a ritual expression of conversion. Walking through it symbolises a leaving behind of the past and entering into the new through Christ, who is the door! Pope Francis has asked that the Holy Door be opened in every Diocese for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year. For a world whose eyes have seen the worst of human destruction and natural disaster, it is essential for us to experience the Lord’s mercy in tangible ways.

Pope Francis calls every Catholic to rediscover the Lord’s mercy. He wishes that the moment of receiving mercy be linked to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the celebration of the Eucharist with a reflection on mercy and the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy.

The official prayer has been written by Pope Francis and a special Hymn for the Jubilee Year, ‘Misericordes sicut Pater’, has been composed. The Pontifical Council has prepared rites for the Opening and Closure of the Door of Mercy, which have been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis has also called for inter-religious dialogue between faiths to overcome discrimination and misunderstandings.

In the official letter of the Year of Mercy, many of the faithful will undertake a pilgrimage to Rome to walk through the Holy Doors. Each of the four Papal Basilicas in Rome (Saint Peter’s in the Vatican, Saint John Lateran, Saint Mary Major, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls) has a Holy Door. These are Jubilee Churches; one can obtain the Jubilee indulgence by making a pilgrimage to one of them and fulfilling the other necessary conditions. The Basilicas of the Holy Land are also traditionally Jubilee Churches. In the rest of the world, the Jubilee Churches will be the Diocesan church and any shrines in which the local Ordinary decides to open a Door of Mercy.

Pope Francis remembers those who may find it impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick, the lonely, the elderly, the incarcerated. For them, he says their suffering can be rightly considered Jubilee Indulgences to obtain the mercy of God. Through the Communion of the Saints, we pray for those deceased, as we remember them in the Eucharistic Celebration.

Mercy is extended towards those involved, by choice or by force, in the act of abortion. Pope Francis says that the mercy of God cannot be denied to those who are repentant. And so, he has decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve the sin of abortion to those who, with contrite heart, procure it through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The motto ‘Merciful LikeThe Father’ serves as an invitation from our merciful Father who asks us to follow His example in spreading mercy and forgiveness.

The logo – the work of Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik –theologically summarises the theme of mercy. The Son carrying upon His shoulders the lost soul demonstrates the love of Christ. The logo has been designed to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity, with love that has the power to change one’s life. One feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd takes humanity on Himself, His eyes merge with those of man. This indicates a connection established between humanity and the Father through the Passion of Christ.

This image is captured within what is called a Mandora (the shape of an almond), used in the early and medieval iconography. The three concentric ovals, with colours progressing outward to a lighter shade indicate the movement of Christ as He carries man from the night of sin and death. The depth of the darker colour suggests the love of the Father who forgives all.

Priests have been appointed as Missionaries of Mercy to express the spirit of the Good Shepherd in their missions of preaching, service and hearing confessions. They will be sent forth by Pope Francis during a celebration on Ash Wednesday in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father will grant these missionaries the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See. Their services have been requested for the duration of the Jubilee Year.

In this Jubilee Year, 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 (Ps 25:6).” – Pope Francis (Bull of IndictionMisericordiaeVultus)

:December 7, 2015

 

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