On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father opened the Holy Door and began the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This Holy Year, is a time for the Church to reflect on how it can be ‘merciful like the Father’ today. Pope Francis desires that the year ‘will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!’ Bull of Indiction: Misericordiae Vultus
Read on for more background on the Holy Year and how it is being celebrated in England and Wales.
What is a Holy Year?
If we look to the Old Testament, we see that the Israelites associated a jubilee with a time of joy and pardon. “Thou shalt sanctify the fiftieth year,” we read in the Book of Leviticus 25:10,”and shalt proclaim remission to all the inhabitants of thy land: for it is the year of jubilee.”
Jubilee Years’ have also been celebrated over the centuries by Christians. Pope Boniface VIII is thought to have instituted the first Christian Jubilee in the year 1300 and the number fifty was specially associated in the early thirteenth century with the idea of remission of sin.
Adapted from: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08531c.htm
8th December 2015 – 20th November 2016
Pope Francis explains: ‘I have chosen the date of 8 December because of its rich meaning in the recent history of the Church. In fact, I will open the Holy Door on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive. With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way.’ This is what we are called to do during the Holy Year, and beyond!
How will it be celebrated in England & Wales?
- A Holy Door in every Cathedral.
- In Shrewsbury, the Holy Door is at our Cathedral in Shrewsbury.
- Encourage people to go on pilgrimage as a sign of the ongoing journey of conversion and renewal to which we are all called.
- To recognise and promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation as the Sacrament of the New Evangelisation with particular celebrations for this on 4 – 5 March 2016.
- To see the Catholic school as an important threshold for proclaiming God’s mercy.
- To explore creatively our outreach to others through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, especially those most in need.
- To recognise that mercy provides a fruitful avenue of dialogue with other Christians, other religions and non-believers.
The Sacrament of Penance
It is hoped that during the Jubilee Year many people will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession as it’s better known, offers us an important way of getting closer to God – to be forgiven for our sins. As Pope Francis puts it ‘it’s an encounter with the Lord’s mercy which spurs us on to do our best’.
Below, Bishop John Arnold (now Bishop of Salford) offers a two part catechises on Confession.
Jubilee of Mercy Indulgences
To experience and obtain the Jubilee of Mercy Indulgence, the faithful are called to:
- Make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion.
- Receive the Sacrament of Penance
- Participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy
- Make a profession of faith
- Pray for the Holy Father and the intentions that he bears in his heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.