THE HOLY YEAR OF MERCY
"BE MERCIFUL EVEN AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL." (LUKE 6:36)
A CORPORAL WORK OF MERCY
Merciful like the Father is the “motto” of this Holy Year. In mercy, we experience God’s love for us. He gives his entire self, always freely, asking nothing in return, except our love. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. It is the path we see in Jesus who is “the face of the Father’s mercy.” As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other. (Misericordiae Vultus 14, 10)
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Lk 6:36
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL
Blessed are you, Lord of Love and Mercy. You love each and every one of us and want the best for us. Open our hearts so we may understand your love and mercy for us. Teach us how to love and show mercy to others, especially those who are most difficult to love. Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
PSALM 115:5-6, 116
The Lord is kind and merciful.
O God, by your name, save me.
By your strength, defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer.
Listen to the words of my mouth.
Strangers have risen against me;
the ruthless seek my life;
they do not keep God before them.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful
God is present as my helper;
The Lord sustains my life
Turn back the evil upon my foes.
In your faithfulness, destroy them.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful
Then, I will offer you generous sacrifice
and give thanks to your name, Lord, for it is good.
Because it has rescued me from every trouble,
and my eyes look down on my foes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful
Blessed are the merciful: like the first disciples, may we go out and evangelize our world by living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we pray to the Lord…
Blessed are the merciful: like the Good Samaritan, may our love of the Lord be manifested whenever and wherever we encounter our neighbor, we pray to the Lord…
Blessed are the merciful: like Mary and Martha, may Catholics welcome into our hearts and homes the Crucified and Risen Christ in every person we meet, we pray to the Lord…
Blessed are the merciful: may we help to open the door of mercy to every person who asks, seeks, and knocks, we pray to the Lord …
Blessed are the merciful: may every person recognize our radical poverty and ultimate dependence upon God, we pray to the Lord…
PRAYER FOR THE YEAR OF MERCY
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and 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;
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!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
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.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy;
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
WORKS OF MERCY
WEEKLY SUGGESTIONS TO CONSIDER
July 3: As we conclude the Fortnight for Freedom, pray that people in our country and around the world have the freedom to worship in peace and bring God’s message of mercy to others.
July 10: Visit one of the churches with a holy door, especially if you have not yet had the opportunity to do so.
July 17: Learn about your parish's ministries and volunteer opportunities. Is there one to which you could contribute your time, talent, or treasure? Not all require long-term commitments.
July 24: Visit a loved one in a nursing home or stop by an elderly relative or neighbor’s home. Consider inviting the person out for an ice cream cone. If you are unable to travel, call or send a card.
July 31: If you have not done so yet, consider sharing God’s mercy by making a gift to the annual Catholic appeal.
GOD'S MERCY IS THRIVING IN OUR DIOCESE
By: Michael Smith, Director of Mission for Catholic Charities Maine
Every day, I am blessed, humbled, and awestruck to see God’s mercy alive and active in our diocese. At Catholic Charities Parish Social Ministry, I work with a team of staff and volunteers supporting our parishioners to live out their baptismal call to “love their neighbor as their self” (Mark 12:31). God has gifted every one of us with different time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of all his people and for his glory. Parish Social Ministry connects with pastors, deacons, parish staff, families, children, and adults to provide ministries to help people in need in their communities so that everyone in the parish, not just those who are retired or can lift 50 lbs. at the food pantry, can live out this call.
Each day, Parish Social Ministry is privileged to see so many people give of themselves to help those living on the margins of society right here in our own state through these parish-based ministries. There are many staple ministries, such as food pantries and clothing closets, which provide the basic necessities of everyday life. We also have many parishes that are expanding their services to provide more assistance, such as cooking classes, financial mentoring, and art therapy classes for children at a homeless shelter. Regardless of the ministry, there is an abundance of love and joy by those helping as well as those receiving assistance. God is with each volunteer and person served through these ministries, and the collective impact is astounding.
With over 150 ongoing, direct-service ministries in our diocese (not counting service projects or seasonal programs such as Thanksgiving baskets or giving trees), I am surprised that we do not always know these good works take place. But the message is clear: God’s mercy is thriving in our diocese.
In working with so many people who encounter and express God’s mercy, I have found there is a multiplier effect in the giving and receiving of God’s mercy in these ministries. Those who partake in them (whether the giver or receiver) encounter others and become transformed through a deeper understanding of God’s love. For example, people who receive food may have their bodily needs met, allowing them to live out their call to holiness and thus bring about a much greater good for themselves, their families, and community. The sharing of food, meanwhile, allows the giver to have a greater understanding of the experience of the receiver, a thankfulness for what she/he already has, and the joy of partaking in God’s ministry with those in need. Both the giver and receiver experience the grace of God’s mercy through each other, and both realize that we are all created in the image and likeness of God and are in need of his mercy. This encounter and transformation allows them to multiply God’s love through continuous gifts of gratitude for this mercy so that more people can “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
This multiplication of mercy is taking place daily in all parts of our state, so how are we called to respond? What has God given us - spiritually and materially - to achieve this? And what will it mean for you and others if we do respond?
I know that, in responding, God’s mercy will be given to us to carry out his work and, in turn, will provide each of us with a greater insight to his mercy.