The logo for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, created by Fr Marko Rupnik SJ, depicts Jesus taking upon his shoulders the lost soul. PHOTO: ONLINE

The logo for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, created by Fr Marko Rupnik SJ, depicts Jesus taking upon his shoulders the lost soul. PHOTO: ONLINE

With the special Year of Mercy set to begin next month, Archbishop Christopher Prowse has written the following pastoral letter to the people of the Archdiocese, encouraging all to respond generously to the Pope’s invitation…

THE merciful tenderness of God encounters everyone and excludes no one. This “loving kindness of the heart of our God” (Luke 1:78) is made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Alleluia!

The announcement of our Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is a prophetic proclamation from His Holiness, Pope Francis, to draw us all closer to this merciful embrace of the Father of all mercies.

It will commence throughout the Catholic world on December 8, 2015 and conclude on November 20, 2016.

Jubilee years commenced about 700 years ago in the Church. There have been 26 Jubilees and only three have been “extraordinary”(including this one).

Pope Francis has explained the terms of reference around the Jubilee Year in his ‘bull of indiction’, entitled Misericordiae Vultus (‘The Face of Mercy’). Please read this carefully: https://w2.vatican.va/content/ francesco/en/apost_letters/ documents/papa-francesco_ bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html.

At the start of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis will open the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He explains that it will become “a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God, who consoles, pardons and instills hope”. In our Archdiocese, a local Door of Mercy will also be opened at St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra at this time.

The theme of the Jubilee Year is: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’. This will ensure that both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy will be a true focus.

I encourage all parishes, schools, communities and ecclesial movements in the Archdiocese to respond generously to the Pope’s invitation to us all.

There will be many opportunities to receive and express God’s mercy over the Jubilee Year.

May our parishes become even more what they are: centres of God’s mercy. May all of us live out our baptismal vocation and become even further who we are: missionaries of God’s mercy.

May Mary, who gave birth to the source of all mercy, Jesus Christ, lead us to her Son in our Jubilee Year of Mercy. May we have the trust to place all our sufferings (miseries) into the loving heart of Jesus. This is truly the mercy encounter we all pray for in these times.

Lent 2016 is an obvious penitential time in our liturgical life to focus on mercy. Let us highlight the importance of the Sacrament of Penance during this time.

Another great opportunity is the invitation of Pope Francis for a worldwide ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ (March 4-5, 2016) in which confessions and prayer vigils are asked to be held in dioceses throughout the world.

A particular focus for our Archdiocese will be regional deanery gatherings in 2016 that will focus on the theme of ‘Mercy in Marriage and Family Life’. These will follow up on our most successful Archdiocesan gathering held in March 2015. They will also give us a practical focus to express God’s merciful tenderness in a crucial area that concerns us all so much.

As further practical resources and themes for this Jubilee Year of Mercy become available, our Archdiocesan agencies will make them available to you.

In the present time, however, I call on all of us in the Archdiocese to become further informed. Let us begin thinking practically on how we can welcome this great mercy moment on the local level.

“In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy, and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: ‘Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old,’ (Ps 25:6),” Pope Francis (Misericordiae Vultus, s. 25).

Archbishop Christopher Prowse 

Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn