Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has embodied both in his words and actions the depth of God's merciless love. Time and time again we have witnessed his example - from washing the feet of prisoners, opening a homeless shelter just outside the Vatican walls, to embracing those with disabilities. The Holy Father wants so much for us to rekindle our call to embody God's mercy that he has called for an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, beginning on December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (full English text here),
Pope Francis writes: "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God . . . 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. . .At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's action in our lives."
The Holy Father invites us to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can learn to live as his disciples. These corporal works of mercy include: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger.
In your school community, there are many ways to live out these works of mercy in a meaningful way both during the Year of Mercy and beyond. Here are a few ideas:
- Hold a Liturgy of the Word or Eucharist celebrating mercy and forgiveness.
- Hold a reconciliation service (begin with a brief prayer service and afterwards play soft meditative music while those wishing to go to confession may do so).
- Collect funds, food, clothing for the poor.
- Plan a community service field trip to agencies that aid the poor and the marginalized.
- Create a Mercy Tree in your classroom or school hallway, where members of your school community can write on a leaf an act of mercy that they pledge to take and attach it to the tree.
- If you are not already involved, get your class or school involved in Development and Peace. Educate students about issues that affect the poor in the Global South and empower them to engage in actions of change. The website is rich with resources and information.
- Pray the Prayer for the Year of Mercy. Reflect upon the image of the official logo for the Year of Mercy. Both are found below and at the official Vatican Year of Mercy website.
- Purchase and use resources that can help in faith-sharing specifically on the theme of mercy. Here are a couple of resources that I would recommend: The Holy Year of Mercy by Susan Heuver (The Word Among Us Press) and A Year of Mercy with Pope Francis by Kevin Cotter (Our Sunday Visitor).
PRAYER BY POPE FRANCIS FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene
from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
"If you knew the gift of God!"
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all
by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world,
its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be
clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those
in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after,
loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us
with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy
may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary,
Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with
the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
HYMN FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY
|Inno ufficiale del Giubileo della Misericordia -
Merciful Like The Father
The Vatican has chosen a composition by English Catholic composer Paul Inwood to be the official setting for the hymn of the Holy Year of Mercy. His setting was judged the best entry in an international competition organised by The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation and judged by a committee that included the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.
The text of the refrain "Misericordes sicut Pater" is translated as "Be merciful as your Father is merciful." The verses are available in English, Italian, and French.
Inwood said that his setting was inspired by music from the Taizé Community, the ecumenical monastic order from France that uses a contemplative, repetitive style of music to enhance prayer and meditation.
What I like about this setting is its flexibility in that it can be used in many different ways, in different settings, with a lot of or with little to no instrumentation, yet still have a meditative quality. For example the refrain can simply be sung over and over again in a "Taizé-like" fashion. If you have a strong soloist or choir, they can sing a verse in between refrains.
OTHER MUSIC SUGGESTIONS FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY
There is a longing (Anne Quigley, OCP Publications) - found in Celebrate in Song and Gather
Lord, when you came (Cesareo Gabarain, OCP Publications) - found in Gather
We are called (David Haas, GIA Publications) - found in Gather
The Summons (John Bell, GIA Publications) - found in Gather
We have been told (Marty Haugen, GIA Publications) - found in Gather
With our God there is mercy (Joncas, OCP Publications) - found in the Catholic Book of Worship III and Gather
God has chosen me (Bernadette Farrell, OCP Publications) - found in Gather
Blest are they (David Haas, GIA Publications) - found in the Catholic Book of Worship III and Gather
You have anointed me (Damean Music, GIA Publications) - found in Glory & Praise and Gather
Go make a difference (Steve Angrisano, OCP Publications) - found in Gather
Wake the world with dawning joy (Steven Warner, WLP Publications)
Partners in the mission (Peter Hesed, WLP Publications)
I hope that this holy year of mercy be a time to reflect more deeply on the love and mercy of God our Father in your life. May it be a time of renewal of your mission to authentic Christian witness: to be the face of mercy toward others.
Campus Minister/Director of Chamber Choir
King's University College
Annual Christ the King Lecture - The Eucharist and the Three Days: Memory, Passing Over, and Christian Time
A free lecture by Dr. Kimberly Belcher.
November 19, 2015
Joanne & Peter Kenny Theatre, Darryl J. King Student Life Centre,
266 Epworth Ave, London.
Feast of Christ the King Mass
November 22, 2015,
'The Chapel' at Windermere on the Mount.
1486 Richmond St.
December 5, 2015,
Joanne and Peter Kenny Theatre
Campus Minister / Director of KUC Chamber Choir