We have been given a great gift by Pope Francis in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, to be transformed by the reality of Christ’s tremendous mercy for us and all sinners!
I hope to bring this year to life for my family by living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Here is how we are diving into this Jubilee Year.
1. Team up for mercy.
We are part of a Mercy Team at our parish. As a way to more fully live out the Jubilee Year of Mercy, our pastor has encouraged parishioners to join with other families to form a Mercy Team to perform the works of mercy during the Jubilee Year.
We were excited at the opportunity and quickly connected with friends. There are six families on our team with kids ranging in age from newborn to high school.
We gathered our Mercy Team one Sunday after Mass and broke up into a group of kids and a group of adults to brainstorm and plan.
The kids brainstormed a long list of service projects they can do. Some of the ideas they came up with are:
- donating money in the church basket
- visiting the elderly and lonely
- forgiving grudges, giving food to the poor
- cleaning people’s yards
- painting and fixing houses
- making rosaries
- taking cards to the firemen
- going to Stations of the Cross
- and sending cards to kids with cancer.
The adults came up with other ideas like cleaning the Catholic cemetery, serving the homeless and sending cards through a prison ministry.
We decided that each family will choose a month and a project to plan. Then the whole team will show up to perform that work of mercy.
We will spread everything out between now and November 20, the Feast of Christ the King, and the end to the Jubilee Year.
We are all excited for the opportunity to perform works of mercy and to do it as a team of families! We are thankful to our pastor for such a great idea!
2. Make a pilgrimage through the Holy Door.
Our Mercy Team decided our first task would be making a team pilgrimage through the Holy Door at our Archdiocesan Cathedral.
We began our day by going to the Little Sisters of the Poor to visit with residents and deliver cards that the kids made. Then we went to the Cathedral for the pilgrimage through the Holy Door, reciting the prayers for the Plenary Indulgence, and staying for the Saturday Vigil Mass.
Each family went to Confession on their own during the week.
Before walking through the Holy Door, we explained to the kids the meaning and symbolism of the pilgrimage and the Holy Door. It was a very prayerful experience as we walked through this Holy Door as a group, praying for the grace to live a holy life.
3. Get to know the Saints.
In addition to our Mercy Team activities, during this Jubilee Year I want to introduce my kids to some of the incredible saints who exemplified God’s mercy. We will read about their lives and celebrate their feast days.
Some of these saints include: St. Pio and St. Leopold, whose relics were on display recently in Rome; St. Maximillian Kolbe and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, who gave their lives entirely to and for others; and, of course, St. Faustina, the great messenger of the Divine Mercy.
We participated in the Pilgrimage of Mercy last fall when we venerated the major relics of St. Maria Goretti, as they toured the United States. It was a profound experience, especially for my children to meet this youngest saint in the Church.
She has a beautiful message of mercy, forgiving her murderer as she lay dying!
4. Ideas for Better Prayer.
Pope Francis has asked us to pray more during this Year of Mercy and especially to reflect on God’s mercy. So I have started an after lunch prayer time with my kids. We gather at our table with our Bibles and read two chapters a day.
We started with the Gospel of Matthew and will continue reading through the New Testament for the rest of the year. We end by praying a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Every day we have had somebody new for whom to offer the Chaplet. It has been a nice way to be conscious of those around us in need of prayer.
To meet the Holy Father’s challenge for myself, I have incorporated readings about mercy into my daily prayer time. I have started reading St. Faustina’s Diary.
Also, many Catholic publishers have printed companion books for the Year of Mercy. I have one that offers a daily reflection on mercy.
Lastly, Pope Francis has been offering catechesis on Mercy and is holding special Jubilee celebrations in Rome. I read his homilies and messages online through the Vatican news service.
How about you? What are some of your ideas for how you will live out the Year of Mercy in your family?
Every Diocese has a designated Jubilee Holy Door. Do you plan to make a pilgrimage during the Jubilee Year?
Divine Mercy image CC Fr Lawrence Lew OP | Flickr