On December 8th, the Church will begin the Year of Mercy. The Year of Mercy was called by Pope Francis in April so that the Church, and its members, may refocus themselves on the Mercy that is given by God. In the Pope’s letter to the Church, Misericordiae Vultus, he reminds us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy and through Jesus Christ Mercy is living and visible in Jesus. Pope Francis reminds us that we are called to show mercy in this world because mercy was first shown to us. So throughout this Year of Mercy I will present a series of articles on practical ways that we can practically apply the requests of Pope Francis found in Misericordiae Vultus and the Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy in our own communities.
God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:19, RSV-CE)
Fr Ferdi Santos, one of my professors at the Seminary, loved to regularly tell us, “nemo dat quod non habet, you cannot give away what you don’t have!” Many times he would say that previous to a test in attempts to get us to study harder, but he also reminded us that it applied to our spirituality and our evangelization. If we as Catholics have not taken advantage of the channels of mercy that God provides us then how are we supposed to bring that mercy out into the world. The times I have found it hardest to minister to the teens and to the young adults is when I have distanced myself from those channels of Mercy. I felt empty and therefore could not give anything back to those that I minister to. I am sure many of you have felt the same way.
So what are those Channels of Mercy that we should be taking part in? The first is the Sacrament of Mercy or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation God’s Mercy is clearly shown to us in a dramatic way. No matter how big our sins are, no matter how long it has been since you entered into the confessional, God’s Mercy, founded in love, is greater than our sins. It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we are brought fully back into God’s grace. It is then that we become worthy to receive the Eucharist, the true presence of Mercy. Many of the teens have groaned in what can only be described as physical pain when I have told them that our night will consist of going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yet as the night draws on many of the teens remark to me that they had so much joy and happiness after stepping outside of the confessional and wondered why they didn’t want to go in the first place. Their souls have been filled with the grace of mercy and love.
This coming year there will be many chances to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Of course every week before the Priests are available to provide absolution by appointment or before a Mass. Also, parishes will have Advent Penance Services in which, as a community, the parish will come together to examine its consciences, pray for forgiveness, and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many other opportunities for the sacrament will be scheduled throughout the year and we should make it a new monthly habit that we take part in. Allowing his Mercy to overfill us and allowing it to overflow in our daily lives.
To begin our Year of Mercy lets us go to Lord and ask for his Mercy. Let us start the Year of Mercy with a resolve to not allow our sins to hold us back from the Mercy that God wants to grant us in Reconciliation. Let us experience his Mercy so that we may be filled with the grace of love and mercy.