Merciful like the Father is the theme for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
On March 12. 2015 Pope Francis announced his intent to convene an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Extraordinary, in that Jubilee years are celebrated every 25 or 50 years. The previous Jubilee Year was in the year 2000. This current year began on December 8, 2015 and will conclude November 20, 2016.
On November 29, at Bangui Cathedral, Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in Africa, torn by civil war since 2013, between mainly Christian and Muslim militias, Pope Francis opened the first of many doors to mark the start of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
For those who have been paying attention to Pope Francis, this act of stepping away from the usual protocol for the start of a Jubilee Year, is no surprise. The first door to be opened in a Jubilee Year, up till now, has been the special bronze door at St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. Pope Francis has rewritten the rules and said that every Catholic cathedral in the world may designate a holy door to be opened for a year, so that even those who can't come to Rome can participate in the church's Jubilee Year of Mercy by walking through the doors. These acts are in line with the Pope's unceasing call to pay attention to the poor. Check with your local parishes in order to find the designated doors closest to your homes.
In his Apostolic Letter, Misericordiae Vultus Pope Francis tells us that ”We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” (2).
Our General Minister Tibor Kauser, OFS, connects Misericordiae Vultus to Articles 14,15 and 19 of our Rule. He reminded us, in his letter to the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) all over the world that “We, Secular Franciscans have to commit ourselves in various areas of public life, to pay attention to the appropriate use of goods and of the care of the creation. Each of us has to find out, where and how are we called to give our contribution to the work for building a better world, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.”
Tibor invites us to pray for those who specially need divine mercy, the poor, the marginalized, victims of violence, sinners who have not yet started their journey of conversion. He asks also that we pray for those who serve in the Church, in society and in our fraternities, that through enlightenment and guidance they will always seek the will of God, “that we all may see what we ought to do, individually and also in our fraternities 'together with the people of good will, ...being called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively'”. To help us build that “more fraternal and evangelical world” Tibor encourages us to study a publication by Franciscan International, the Non Governmental Organization of the Franciscan Family titled: Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty. This publication is available at http://franciscaninternational.org/handbllk/
For those who will be looking for help in organizing their prayer and meditation during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the National Executive Council (NEC) offers "MercyHour" at http://mercyhour.org/
“May we contemplate God's mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.”
Misericordiae Vultus, (13).
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