Today, Colleen Mitchell shares five ways to beautifully live the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Jesus offers us the works of mercy as a way to connect directly with Him through the people we meet every day. Read Matthew 25:31-46 today and reflect on where you meet Jesus.
As we move through the Christmas season and into the new calendar year, I am trying to be ever mindful that the Church has already celebrated the beginning of a new year, and on top of that, a super-special extraordinary Jubilee Year.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy, in which Pope Francis is calling us to remember and embrace the individual, personal mercy of God we each have received to make salvation open to us, to pursue and deeper love and longing for the holiness that should result from that gift, and to live out our lives as examples of the Father’s mercy to others.
I had the incredible privilege of being able to attend the opening Papal Mass for the jubilee year and to be among the first pilgrims to walk through the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s afterwards.
It was a pilgrimage I will not soon forget. The Mass, although attended by thousands sitting outside on a drizzly, cold morning, was so reverent and beautiful. The chanting of the official hymn was deeply moving. Watching Pope Francis stop to embrace Pope Emeritus Benedict before turning to push open those wide doors with obvious emotion was so incredible no words really suffice.
Then, as we squeezed into the line to wait to pass through the doors, our spiritual director who accompanied us began to remind us of the point of the journey–why we were crossing that threshold and what it should mean. He reminded us to make a moment of true conversion of heart, to be mindful of our sinfulness and the call to holiness and to walk through those doors accepting the mercy of God that allows us to lay down that burden of sin and take up the work of holiness.
It only took a few seconds really to pass through the doors once we had made our way through the lines, but it was a profound moment in my spiritual journey that I will not soon forget.
Since that day, I have longed to really enter into this year fully and embrace all it has to offer us as Catholics and Christians. I mean, if there is one thing every Christian can embrace unilaterally, it is the mercy of God, is it not?
Maybe since my missionary calling is a call to daily live the acts of mercy, or maybe because I am a so often a tired sinner who needs her Savior, or maybe because we as a couple have long been devotees to the Divine Mercy, whatever it is, I long to see people embrace this opportunity to go deeper into what it means to both give and receive the mercy of God, his greatest attribute.
You might not be able to head to Rome and walk through the official Holy Doors at St. Peter’s this year. But there are so many ways that you can embrace this special grace of this Jubilee Year. Did you know that there is a Holy Door in every Catholic diocese in the world?
Making a pilgrimage, a real spiritual pilgrimage, through a Holy Door is definitely a must to live this Year of Mercy.
In addition, I am going to try to pay attention to what Pope Francis has had to say and will say about the year by reading Misercordia Vultus closely, and his homilies and addresses during the special Masses throughout the year.
These are great ways to really focus on the year’s theme in special ways and make an effort to conform your heart to the Church’s call to experience and live the Lord’s mercy more deeply.
But I think the key to really embracing this year’s special message of mercy is to find ways to live it out in your every day.
Here are 5 every days ways we can embrace and live the Jubilee year of mercy, not just on special pilgrimage days, but every day.
1.Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day. This prayer is such a beautiful way to enter into the true mercy of God for souls and pray for our world, so in need of his mercy. And it is so easy to pray. I love to brew an afternoon cup of tea and grab a few quiet moments to pray the Chaplet. When there is time, I love to listen to this version and sing it with my kids too. This is a great way every day way to remind yourself to focus on the great mercy of God for your own soul and those of others. If you remember to pray for the Pope and for others in your life in need of prayer during the Chaplet, you are also performing the spiritual work of mercy of praying for the living and the dead. It’s a two for one!
2. Make your own holy door to remind yourself to be looking for opportunities to extend mercy in your comings and goings. Choose a door you enter and exit on a normal basis, your front or back door, your office door, your car door, and mark it as your “mercy door”. Maybe place the logo of the Jubilee year there as reminder, or a small LED candle. Each time you enter and exit that door, try to say a short prayer that reminds you to be awake for opportunities to share God’s mercy with those you will encounter on the other side of that door. This prayer is a perfect, short prayer to pray with every entrance and exit: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
3. Practice the spiritual works of mercy in your own home. I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of opportunities in my home to bear wrongs patiently and forgive others willingly. And if I look closely, there are also ample chances to comfort the afflicted, to pray for my family, and to live the spiritual works of mercy right here in my own home. I know I should do these things, but I often forget to see them as real spiritual work, benefitting both my own soul and those who receive those mercies. If I used this year to really discipline myself to live spiritual mercy in my own home as my life’s work, I can only imagine how deeply my heart could be converted to true self-sacrificial love in my own family.
4. Focus on one corporal work of mercy for a month at a time. Make the time and space in your life to put that work into action in a very real, tangible way outside of your own home. If you have to cut back on commitments to make time and space in your schedule, that would be a very worthwhile effort for this year. If it is not possible to be physically present to a need, you could fast from some small indulgence every month and give to a worthwhile organization. If you would like to become a $10 monthly sponsor of St. Bryce, we would be eternally grateful to feed the hungry and clothe the naked in your name.
5. Pray daily using the Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion. Our spiritual director gifted my husband and me each with a copy of this little volume on the opening of the Jubilee year. It is filled with lovely meditations, litanies, prayers, and poems to help you focus on the year’s theme. Adding this short 5-minute devotion to yor prayer time or reading them over a family meal is an excellent way to bring daily focus to the theme of mercy in your every day life.
Whatever ways you choose, I do hope you are finding inspiration in this Jubilee Year of Mercy to embrace the Father’s love for you more deeply and share it more freely with those in your own home and those you encounter outside your home.
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*Photos in this post are all personal photos from our trip to Rome. Copyright @Colleen Mitchell 2015.
Comment below with your thoughts:
Do you have a spiritual focus for the new year? What are some ways you plan to incorporate that focus into your everyday life? What does the Father’s mercy mean to you? How are you sharing it with others?
or, simply answer:
Did you pray today?