2016 Holy Year of Mercy - What You Need to Know
The Catholic Church around the world celebrated when Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy for the year 2016. “Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always,” he stated in his speech, reminding the Catholic church and her members to never tire of giving and receiving forgiveness from others. The Holy Year of Mercy began in December 2015 and as it comes to a close I have begun to research its meaning more deeply, and reflect on its significance, both for the universal church and in my daily life and relationship with God.
What is a Holy Year?
A Holy Year in the Catholic Church is “a special year of remissions of sins and universal pardon.” Also called a Jubilee Year, this tradition dates back to 1300’s! They are typically announced every 25 to 50 years, and the last one was the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 called by Saint John Paul II.
If the last Jubilee was 15 years ago, why did Pope Francis call one now?
The 2016 Holy Year of Mercy is called an Extraordinary Jubilee because it has been called outside of the church’s normal 25 year cycle. Pope Francis’ explanation in his homily at the Basilica of St. Peter is that the world has been full of bad news and despair, and it is “time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
What happens in a Holy Year?
The sacrament of Reconciliation and penance are a strong themes throughout every Holy Year. It’s a time to focus on improving our spiritual weaknesses and take up the call to show mercy to all of our brothers and sisters. Jubilee Years are also an important time for Catholic pilgrims to travel to holy sites such as Rome to renew their faith. Pilgrimages to pass through the Holy Door, which is opened at the Basilica of St Peter, are only possible during these years. Each diocese has also been instructed to open a Holy Door for local parishioners to make a pilgrimage to as well. Passing through these doors symbolizes passing from sin into grace.
What has been done by the Church for this Holy Year of Mercy?
Pope Francis has held monthly events based on the 14 corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. Most notably have been his call to Catholic politicians to ban the death penalty, and his announcement that every priest will be able to absolve the sin of abortion.
What can we do in our daily lives?
As the Holy Year comes to a close we can seek to live it more fully in our daily lives by being quick to forgiveness, attending the sacrament of reconciliation, and praying Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Extraordinary Jubilee 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 of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of
Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Comment below and tell us what you have done to celebrate this Extraordinary Year of Mercy with your family.
As the Holy Year comes to a close may we all seek to live more fully in Christ and seek to spread Peace, Love, and Joy to all.