THE HOLY YEAR OF MERCY
"BE MERCIFUL EVEN AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL." (LUKE 6:36)
A SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY
Prayer is a gift of God. It connects us with Jesus who connects us with one another. As we acknowledge our dependence on God, we see ourselves connected to each other in Jesus Christ. This connection is not only of this earth. Like God’s love for us, it is eternal and connects us with those who have died. This spiritual work of mercy, to pray for the living and the dead, highlights the Communion of Saints, the reality of our eternal connection. It is the union of all of the members of the Church: those who are pilgrims on earth, those who have died and are preparing for heaven in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven, who are described as “saints,” thanks to their baptism. In our communion, we are called upon to pray for each other, an obligation that does not end with death.
“I believe in the … the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.” Apostles Creed
Blessed are you Lord, God of life and death. You always hear the prayers of your people. Help us to recognize that prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others. Joining together in prayer for the living and the dead entrusts us all into your care. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2 MACCABEES 12:42-43,46
Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch, as he had the resurrection in mind … Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.
Praise the name of the Lord
when brothers dwell together as one!
R. Praise the name of the Lord
Like fine oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
Upon the bear of Aaron,
upon the collar of his robe.
R. Praise the name of the Lord.
Like dew of Hermon coming cown
upon the mountains of Zion.
There the Lord has decreed a blessing,
life for evermore.
R. Praise the name of the Lord.
(Mass for All Saints) That our prayers may be united with those of all the saints who intercede for our world before the throne of God in heaven, we pray to the Lord…
(Mass for All Souls) - For the souls of the faithful departed and all in purgatory: may we offer prayers and sacrifices on their behalf, we pray to the Lord…
For our loved ones who have died and for all who mourn for them: may our hope in the resurrection to eternal life grant us consolation and peace, we pray to the Lord…
For all who await the glorious return of Christ: may we be blessed with courage, perseverance and fidelity, we pray to the Lord…
(Feast of Christ the King) - For all believers who, like the “Good Thief,” profess faith in Christ: may we be welcomed into Paradise, we pray to the Lord…
PRAYER FOR THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep 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!”
of the 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 willed 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 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.
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
WORKS OF MERCY
WEEKLY SUGGESTIONS TO CONSIDER
November 6: Study and reflect on the life of a saint.
November 11 (Veterans' Day): Pray for veterans and those who died in service to their country. If you know any veterans, thank them for their service and invite them to share their stories.
November 13: Pray for healing for those who have lost a child to abortion and for the souls of their unborn children. Pray also that more will come to understand that all life, from conception to natural death, is precious and a gift from God.
November 20: As you gather for your Thanksgiving meal, offer prayers for loved ones living and deceased. Share some beloved memories and dedicate yourself to making new ones.
November 27: Reflect on the Year of Mercy and how you will continue to seek and share God's mercy going forward.
PRAY FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
By: Annette Rioux, Office of Lifelong Faith Formation
How fitting in November that we reflect on praying for the living and the dead - a spiritual work of mercy. We might wonder why we put those two together – praying for the LIVING and the DEAD. One simple response is that when we pray for the dead, we also pray for the living – ourselves! Within the Communion of Saints, we stay connected with those gone before us by redefining our relationship with them.
We pray that their transition to heaven is filled with peace and total surrender to God’s love. Prayer connects us and helps us reflect on who they were for us and how they influenced our lives. In God’s love, they remain eternally bonded to us and us to them - a bond stronger than death. That relationship deepens our faith and trust in God. It opens us up more fully to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is reciprocal and can resolve issues we had in our earthly relationship with them. We can forgive them for hurts, and we can know they forgive us. Through prayer, we come to realize that our loved ones are “O.K.” and always remain an integral part of our lives.
Perhaps this concept of a “redefined relationship” seems impossible to verify - but some of us have been privileged to witness it concretely at Rachel’s Vineyard (RV) retreats for those who have had abortions. Allow me to illustrate.
Try to visualize a late Friday afternoon when women and men arrive for an RV weekend. Their faces and body gestures scream fear, shame, guilt, suspicion and intense anxiety. They wonder who will judge them or who will make them feel worse than they already feel. They’ve gathered all their strength and courage to walk into the building after decades of carrying a shame engrained in their souls. They want to turn around and walk out the door – but the grace of God moves them forward, now accompanied by a retreat team member who seems to know how to ease their distress. By not walking away, they’ve taken one of the biggest risks of their lives – a genuine leap of faith.
Now, try to visualize the following Sunday morning when these same women and men come to breakfast with faces beaming and bodies relaxed. Now, they readily engage in laughter and chatter with others at the table.
What happened from Friday evening to Sunday morning? A “Resurrection” happened. They encountered the mercy of God through Scripture, reconciliation, prayer, grace, and other people – but in a most special way, through their aborted children. The spiritual relationship they now have with their children is hopeful and self-forgiving. They know their babies are O.K. and that their babies forgive them for cutting short their lives on earth. They no longer fear a spiritual connection and know they are enriched by it.
So, there is a concrete association between praying for the living and the dead! That connection creates an eternal spiritual bond held together by God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. What a wondrous God we have! How grateful we are for God’s mercy through the Communion of Saints