What’s Been Happening in Religious Education
This year the Church celebrated the Year of Mercy – a Jubilee within our Church to signify the great need for mercy in our world. Pope Francis called this Jubilee in order to highlight that God is indeed merciful and as a result of God’s mercy to us, we are also required to show mercy to others. Ordinary jubilees occur every 25 or 50 years, and extraordinary jubilees are called for some momentous occasion. Two extraordinary jubilees were called in the 20th century – 1933, to mark the 1900th anniversary of Christ’s redemption in 33 A.D., and 1983, its 1950th anniversary. St. John Paul II also held a “Great Jubilee” in the year 2000, marking the 2000th anniversary of Jesus’ birth and the start of the new millennium.
At the start of the Jubilee of Mercy, during a general audience December 9, Pope Francis asked pilgrims, “Why a Jubilee of Mercy? What does this mean?”
The answer, he said, is because “the Church needs this extraordinary moment. I’m not (just) saying ‘it’s good,’ no! I’m saying: the Church needs it.”
As the year comes to a close, the Holy Doors at three basilicas in Rome – St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major – were closed during special Masses held November 13. The Holy Doors at churches and basilicas around the world also closed on this day. The year will officially end on November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, when Pope Francis will close the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was opened on December 8, 2015 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The opening of the door is meant to symbolically illustrate the idea that the Church’s faithful are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee. Pilgrims who walked through the Holy Door were able to receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.
During his address for the Angelus the same day, Pope Francis said that we must “stand firm in the Lord” and work “to build a better world;” that despite difficulties and sad events, what really matters is how Christians are called “to encounter the ‘Lord’s Day.’”
“Precisely in this perspective we want to place the commitment resulting from these months in which we have lived with faith the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” he said, “which concludes today in the dioceses of the whole world with the closing of the Holy Door in the cathedral churches.”
“The Holy Year has urged us, on the one hand, to keep our eyes fixed toward the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom and on the other, to build the future of this land, working to evangelize the present, so that it becomes a time of salvation for all.”
As the Year of Mercy comes to a close, perhaps you might like to pray the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
You taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
And you 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;
And the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
Made Peter week 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 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 will 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 Year 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.
Leader of Religious Education and Mission