jp2ggx01Holy Year of Mercy – Count the ways communicating Divine Mercy – Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium: “The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.”

In calling for a Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis uses yet another image to stress this message. We have all seen the powerful images of Pope Francis’ tenderness and mercy toward all – the disfigured, the abandoned, the marginalized, the outcasts.

Now he invokes a practice with roots in the Old Testament in declaring a Holy Year of Mercy. The ancient Jewish custom of jubilee – a designated time of forgiveness, renewal and celebration. Portions of the official declaration will be read in front of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica April 11

In his own words he writes…

Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”

This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy. I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, that [the dicastery] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.

I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment, we entrust this Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.

Such years occur approximately once every quarter century. They begins with the opening of the Holy Door in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. For centuries, the doors were opened with a silver hammer, not a key, “because the doors of justice and mercy give way only to the force of prayer and penance,” according to an encyclopedia. Opening the Holy Year 2000, St. John Paul used neither a hammer, nor a key, but strongly pushed the door open (see photo above courtesy of NCR).

Rocco Palmo writes… A liturgical moment (this Saturday evening) brings the formal declaration of the first Holy Year since 2000: an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that will (repeat: will) have programmatic consequences in the life of the church, and which might just end up being the culminating initiative of the entire Rule of Francis.

Pope Francis will give the “bull of indiction” also to the archpriests of the Rome basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major, which also have Holy Doors that are opened during jubilee years. The only other Holy Doors in the world are at Quebec City’s Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec; the shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France; and at the Cathedral of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


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