Pope Francis has announced an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its center the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy, which begins on 8 December 2015 - the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and concludes on 20 November 2016, on the feast of Christ the King.
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (cf Lk 6:36) is the theme of the Year of Mercy.
In his Angelus on Jan. 11, 2015, the Pope stated: “There is so much need of mercy today, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth! We are living in the age of mercy; this is the age of mercy.”
In his 2015 Lenten Message, the Holy Father also said, â€œHow greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!.
Saying he has "thought often about how the church can make more evident its mission of being a witness of mercy," Pope Francis has made “mercy” a central theme of his papacy, speaking of it often in homilies and in his texts. His apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel"), uses the word 32 times!
“I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time.”
Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God, he said.
The Pope will be opening the special holy door of St. Peter's Basilica to mark the beginning of the jubilee.
Pope Francis states that he hopes that with its opening, the door "will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."
Pope Francis preaches during a Lenten penance service Friday in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in March 2015, where he announced an extraordinary Jubilee dedicated to Divine Mercy (CNS/Paul Haring)
Holy Years in the Catholic Church date back to the beginning of the 14th century. They were originally meant to be called every 25 or 50 years and were a time when all sins could be forgiven. The concept comes from the Biblical reference to a Jubilee when all slaves were to be set free and all debts absolved.
A Jubilee year is a special year called by the church to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins. There have also been special jubilee years from time to time, known as Extraordinary Jubilee years.
The last jubilee year was held in 2000 during the papacy of Pope John Paul II and was known as "the Great Jubilee." The last extraordinary jubilee year was held in 1983 to celebrate 1,950 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Holy Year of Mercy is an "Extraordinary Jubilee" in which Pope Francis will grant indulgences to people who visit the four papal basilicas or a cathedral where they live; to anyone who performs just one of the traditional works of mercy and also to prisoners, ill, or elderly people who attend Mass or pray wherever they can. In short, Pope Francis says, This Jubilee Year excludes no one.
During this year of jubilee, it is a time of joy, remission or universal pardon. The Vatican pointed out that the opening of this â€œJubilee of Mercyâ€ will take place on the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. â€œThis is of great significance, for it impels the Church to continue the work begun at Vatican II the Vatican said in a statement.
What the Year of Mercy really means for all?
This Holy Year of Mercy is a time to...
Rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God
An opportunity to deepen oneâ€™s faith
Live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness
"Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul."
~ Pope Francis.
Prayer of Pope Francis for the 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 maybe 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 forever and ever.
The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. The motto Merciful Like the Father (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure (Lk 6:37-38). The logo has been designed by Jesuit Fr Marko I. Rupnik, such that it expresses the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one's life.
The image of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption.
The Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, oneâ€™s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.
The mandola (the shape of an almond), is a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ - divine and human.
The three concentric ovals, with colors progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker color suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all.