Thursday, November 3, 2016

Moving Forward with Hearts of Mercy

Written by  Jim Nakoneshny

Sunday, November 20th will mark the conclusion of the Church’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis will close the ceremonial Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as the last act of that year. Here at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, our Holy Doors will close one week earlier on Sunday, November 13th.

Does this mean that God’s mercy towards us ends on November 20th? Or that starting on the 21st we can stop being merciful to others? Obviously that is not the case. The Year of Mercy has been a way to highlight the importance of mercy in our lives and bring it to the forefront of our consciousness.

Symbolically calling on the entire global Catholic Church to take up his papacy's central message of compassion and pardon, Pope Francis had announced in 2015 that he was proclaiming a jubilee year to be called the Holy Year of Mercy, saying he has "thought often about how the church can make more evident its mission of being a witness of mercy."

“Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy! We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy.” – Pope Francis

These words are echoed at the Cathedral with the inscription of our former Bishop Donald Bolen’s motto above our own Holy Doors: “Mercy within Mercy within Mercy”.

To further emphasize the desire for us to share that mercy we have also mounted commemorative plaques onto the doors highlighting the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Of these, the Corporal works tend to be well known and often practiced: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy have been more difficult for many people to embrace, most likely because of the awkward and unfamiliar wording (Admonish the Sinner, Instruct the Ignorant, etc.). While the intentions behind these are as valid as they ever were, many people struggled to get past the traditional language. Because of this, our Bishop requested that we update the wording of the Spiritual Works of Mercy plaque to better reflect contemporary usage. So these now read:

Mentor the seeker              (Counsel the doubtful)

Teach the beginner             (Instruct the ignorant)

Share the faith                    (Admonish sinners)

Protect the vulnerable        (Comfort the afflicted)

Forgive willingly                  (Forgive offences)

Love unconditionally           (Bear wrongs patiently)

Pray for the living and the dead

After the Holy Doors of Mercy are symbolically closed on Sunday, November 13th, the plaques describing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy will remain in place as a reminder of our calling to be people of mercy. With these principles to guide us, may we all be able to continue through life with a deeper appreciation of God’s merciful love and with a willingness to be more merciful to others.

Read 1980 times Last modified on Wednesday, January 11, 2017