In March this year, Pope Francis announced ‘A Holy Year of Mercy’. The Holy Year, with the theme of mercy and forgiveness, is to take place from 8 December 2015 (The Celebration of the Immaculate Conception) to 20 November 2016 (The Feast of Christ the King).
The Holy Year will be marked by the opening of the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the celebration of pilgrimages, special celebrations and events in Cathedrals and Churches throughout the whole world. At the heart of the year are the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes, from the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in S Matthew’s Gospel. “Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus teaches us that God is mercy and compassion, and calls us to share this rich treasury of grace in our Christian lives.
We will join with many Anglicans in celebrating this Holy Year. We’re invited to the opening of the Mercy Door at Athersley, (doors which are normally closed are specially opened to become a sign of access to the mercy of God), we’re invited to special Advent Mercy Service at Mirfield and in March we’ll take part in a special ‘24hr Mercy Mission’ in Pontefract.
May this ecumenical initiative bear rich fruit in drawing God’s scattered children ever closer together.
In this season of Advent, we look to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as an example of one who was open to God, and who committed herself to doing his will. Pope Francis writes of her:
It is Mary who will prepare us for the Year of Mercy. I pray that the sweetness of [Mary’s] countenance might watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.
Mary received God’s act of mercy that she did nothing to deserve. Rather it came as a totally free gift at the very moment when she came to be. Because Mary knows the free gift of God’s mercy more than any other creature, she wants us to know it too. Through Mary, may we enter in more deeply to experience God’s mercy, that we may be able to share it better with others.
May the Lord bless all our spiritual, and practical preparations for the coming great Festival of the Birth of our Saviour, the Incarnation of Christ. May we pause along the way, and know God’s mercy and Grace. He has given us his very self!
This introduction with some minor additions was written by Fr David Burrows from Elland.