Year of Mercy begins Dec. 8

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Pope Francis goes to confession during a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 13. During the service the pope announced an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, to be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2015, until Nov. 20, 2016. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

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Corporal Works of Mercy
  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Admonish sinners
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive offences willingly
  • Comfort the afflicted
  • Pray for the living
    and the dead

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[dropcap type=”4″]W[/dropcap]ith Pope Francis’ proclamation that 2015-2016 will be a Year of Mercy, Catholic leaders in the Diocese of Phoenix are focusing on what it means for the faithful and how the year will be celebrated.

The pope has asked that all dioceses around the world designate a “Door of Mercy” at their cathedral or another special church or shrine, and that every diocese implement the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative on the Friday and Saturday before the fourth week of Lent. In Rome the last two years, the pope has opened the celebration with a penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica and churches around the city were open for the next 24 hours for confessions and Eucharistic Adoration.

The Diocese of Phoenix will have two Doors of Mercy to mark the year. One will be located at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix and the other will be at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

Angela Gaetano, director of the Office of Parish Leadership Support, said the holy year is calling on Catholics to give witness to the mercy of God, especially by carrying out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“Pope Francis is sending a message very clearly that he wants us as Catholics, as he says in the bull of indiction, ‘to gaze more attentively at mercy, that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives,’” Gaetano said. “He wants us to reach out to those who are marginalized, to those who need tenderness, and in a particular way, to sinners.”

The bull of indiction, “Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy),” was issued by the pope April 11 on the feast of Divine Mercy, and calls for a Holy Year to begin Dec. 8.

“The jubilee Year of Mercy is a time when our witness becomes stronger and more effective, a witness to the world that’s in desperate need of mercy, that the Lord’s mercy has been poured forth upon all of us,” Gaetano said. “The motto of this Year of Mercy, ‘Be merciful like the Father,’ is an invitation for each one of us to love as God the Father does, not with judgement, not with condemnation, but to offer love and offer forgiveness without measure, to the extent that we are able.”

That’s a theme that Fr. Doug Lorig, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Scottsdale, holds dear.

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Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Phoenix

Opening of the Holy Doors, Dec. 13, 2015

24 Hours for the Lord — March 4-5, 2016,
8 a.m. – 8 a.m.
Each deanery will host 24 hours of Confession and Adoration

More events are being planned throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.

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“The difference between Jesus and the Pharisees was the Pharisees did not practice mercy as we know they should,” Fr. Lorig said. Jesus challenged the Pharisees, teaching that mercy was perfection, he added.

“The new covenant, the New Testament, is all about having a merciful heart. We’re supposed to keep the rules God gives us … but our heart has to be steeped in mercy,” Fr. Lorig said. “That’s what this pope is doing. That’s his loudest message. Keep the rules but be merciful,” Fr. Lorig said.

One way Fr. Lorig hopes to mark the Year of Mercy is by having the major relics of St. Maria Goretti at the parish named in her honor. The relics are currently on tour in the U.S. and the Scottsdale parish has applied to have them on display sometime during the jubilee year.

St. Maria Goretti, martyred at the age of 12 for refusing the sexual advances of the man who killed her, is venerated as one of the saints who modeled mercy. As she lay dying of stab wounds, she forgave Alessandro Serenellis, her attacker. That act of forgiveness, along with the forgiving heart of Maria’s mother, helped convert Alessandro.

“Mercy plays a big role in opening hearts to the truth,” Fr. Lorig said. “She just exuded it and her mother did too in forgiving him. It’s a perfect message for our parish.”

Fr. Charlie Goraieb, pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, hopes that during the Year of Mercy many in the diocese will avail themselves to the tremendous graces available in the reliquarium the parish established last year. The relics of 70 saints are on display for veneration seven days a week, an opportunity for Catholics around the diocese to grow in grace during the Year of Mercy.

“One of the many ways that our Lord shows His merciful love to us is through the intercessory prayer of the saints. They are before His throne, day and night, seeking His mercy and grace for us,” Fr. Goraieb said. “We should all ask the Lord to lead us to a particular saint, whose friendship and celestial care can help us on our journey.”

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.

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