by Matthew Doeing
This past Tuesday, a handful of Lay Centre students made a pilgrimage to the Vatican for quite a special occasion: the initiation of a new Jubilee — the “Holy Year of Mercy.”
As the Holy Father has said, the Year of Mercy is an “Extraordinary Jubilee, which has at its centre the mercy of God;” it should convey “a living experience of the closeness of the Father.”
It began on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, and it will extend until next 20 November, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Gloomy weather notwithstanding, thousands of pilgrims, the first wave of an estimated 10 million expected to visit the Vatican in the coming year, crowded into St Peter’s Square.
Nature proved merciful that morning, as by the time of the Holy Door was opened, the sun shone brightly upon the momentous occasion. The last time the Holy Door was opened was by St John Paul II in 2000 for the millennial Jubilee.
After Pope Francis opened the door, he walked through and paused for a brief moment in prayer.
The thousands in attendance burst into applause at the sighting of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, standing by the Holy Door.
During the Mass that followed, Pope Francis said: “How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy… We have to put mercy before judgment.”
Pope Francis emphasized that the faithful must have greater faith in God’s mercy and take up a more merciful stance towards others.
May we pray for a greater recognition of God’s mercy in our lives and in the lives of others and for a holy, healthy, and happy Jubilee.