On Pope Francis 2nd anniversary, he declared a Jubilee Year and made it official the day before Divine Mercy Sunday 2015. It begins December 8th on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and will run until November 20th, 2016 the date on which the Vatican II council closed in 1965. Pope Francis says the holy year is “dedicated to living in our daily lives the mercy” which God “constantly extends to all of us. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life & instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
I am someone grateful to have experienced first hand the transformative power from the last Jubilee Year, set by St. John Paul the II in 2000. My life changed when I followed the guidelines for a Jubilee Year plenary indulgence. Almost immediately my heart was changed, and the church became my most fervent desire. I began going to daily Mass, participating in the masses; I started attending prayer groups to leading them and healing masses to coordinate them, I got involved with many different church groups and finally discerned a vocation into the Secular Franciscan Order. Yes, one might say my life radically changed that Jubilee Year, so much so, my family thought I had gone a little off the deep end lol. So you can probably imagine how much I am looking forward to this Jubilee Year of Mercy and all that it will bring.
In an interview with ‘Credence’ and Italian publication, they asked Pope Francis if according to the Bible, the place where God’s mercy dwells is the womb, the maternal insides of God, is moved to the point of forgiving sin. Can the Jubilee of Mercy be an occasion to rediscover God’s ”maternity”? Is there also a more “feminine” aspect of the Church to appreciate? Yes, He affirms it when He says in Isaiah that perhaps a mother can forget her child, but “I will never forget you.” Here God’s maternal dimension is seen. Not everyone understands the talk of “God’s maternity,” it’s not a popular language – in the good sense of the word – it seems a language that is somewhat chosen. Therefore, I prefer to use <the word> tenderness, proper to a mother, the tenderness of God, tenderness born from the paternal insides. God is Father and Mother.
Pope Francis has also commented that there is a need for the Church to rediscover the womb of mercy and declared a special Jubilee Year of Mercy to bring healing to our hurting world. He has said,
There, came to my mind that image of the Church as a field hospital after a battle; it’s true, how many people are wounded and destroyed! The wounded are taken care of, helped and healed, not subjected to analyses for cholesterol. I believe this is the moment of mercy. We are all sinners, we all bear interior burdens. I felt that Jesus wishes to open the door of His heart, which the Father wishes to show his deepest mercy, and, therefore, sends us the Spirit: to move us and to deter us. It is the year of forgiveness, the year of reconciliation. On one hand, we see the arms trade, the production of arms that kill, the murder of innocents in the cruelest possible way. We see the exploitation of persons, minors, children: a sacrilege – permit me the term – is being carried out against humanity because man is sacred, he is the image of the living God. See, the Father says: stop and come to me.” This is what I see in the world.
A jubilee year is a special year, called by the church, to receive blessings and pardon from God and remission of sins. The Catholic church has called Jubilee years every 25 or 50 years since the year 1300 and at times calls special jubilee years known as extraordinary jubilee years. The Jubilee of the Year 2000 attracted about 25 million pilgrims to Rome. It’s estimated, that about the same number will come during the Jubilee of Mercy.
To reinforce that the Jubilee Year is not just for those able to visit Rome. The first rite of the Jubilee of Mercy is the opening of the Holy Door. Pope Francis, during his visit to Africa, opened the Holy Door in the Cathedral of Bangui, in the Central African Republic. A powerful way to show that the Jubilee of Mercy is available in all parts of the world. He will also open the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica which is typically opened just once every 25 years. In fact, a brick wall is built to cover it until it is torn down for the next Jubilee. Because this is an extraordinary Jubilee, the Holy Door is being opened early (just 15 years after it was closed).
The Holy Door symbolizes the extraordinary way that Catholics can open themselves up to their faith. For pilgrims, the highlight of their journey is walking through the Holy Door. The pontiff says he is going to ask every diocese to identify a similar “Door of Mercy” at a cathedral or other special churches opened during the year, be sure to find out what churches are designated in your Diocese.
He has asked some priests to serve as special “Missionaries of Mercy” to travel around the world hearing confessions and granting “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” The year’s motto is from Luke’s Gospel: “Merciful like the Father.” Without mercy, it’s scarcely possible to penetrate an “injured” world who needs understanding, forgiveness & love.
To learn more about the Jubilee Year of Mercy visit Jubilee Year of Mercy