Jubilee Year of Mercy
Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
Pope Francis declared this year a Jubilee Year of Mercy, beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December the 8th and running through to the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ on November the 20th, 2016. This is quite an extraordinary undertaking by our spiritual leader, as Jubilee Years usually occur only every 25 years.
One of the practices that flows from a Year of Mercy is to make a pilgrimage to one of the Holy Doors, of which there are seven throughout the world; to recall the responsibility of every believer in crossing its threshold; and to renew and strengthen our faith in him.
While most of us cannot visit the Holy Doors throughout the world, we can still be reminded that we are children of our loving and merciful God every time we enter one of our Edmonton Catholic School buildings. With this in mind, we encourage each of our schools and sites to create their own holy door; their own oasis of mercy.
What is the Year of Mercy?
Pope Francis says, "We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.
At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective. "
The motto for the year, Merciful like the Father, serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of God who asks us not to judge or condemn but to offer love and forgiveness instead.
The Jubilee of Mercy will begin when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica on December the 8th, 2015 (the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council) and concludes when he closes that same door on November the 20th, 2016.
So how can we, as staff of the Edmonton Catholic School District, serve as merciful examples and create our own holy doors? Here are some suggestions:
1. Read and reflect on the Pope's full message on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The link is as follows:
2. Discuss the importance of the Holy Door with your staff and students. The following link can assist you with sharing information about the significance of the Holy Door:
3. Before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December the 8th, designate a door or archway in your school that can serve as your Holy Door. Preferably use an interior door or archway. Most of our sites have multiple doors for entrances and exits from which to choose.
4. Encourage staff and students to volunteer to decorate the Holy Door in your school or site. The door or archway itself should be beautiful and in good repair. The door or archway may be decorated with a cross. The Pope's coat of arms may be placed above it to show solidarity with the Holy Father's worldwide celebration of this Year of Mercy, and flowers, silk or paper, can be placed around it.
5. Catechesis is always an important precedent to ritual. Consider posting a framed explanation on a wall near the door or archway so that all visitors and students can read about it.
6. Celebrate the ritual for the creation and blessing of the Holy Door or Archway. This would be a wonderful opportunity to invite your local priest to celebrate the ritual with the school. The Ritual is attached.
7. From the time the Holy Door or Archway is created and blessed to the time it is officially opened, pray the "Prayer for the Year of Mercy" weekly over the intercom. The Prayer is attached.
8. On December the 8th, ritually open the door or archway, the same day that the holy doors will be opened in the Basilicas in Rome. During this celebration, read the passage from Matthew: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7: 13-14) and follow the Scripture passage by the singing of an Advent Song.
9. Invite the students to reflect on their experience of the Holy Door through activities in their classrooms: journal reflections and art work.
10. And encourage the students to share their experience of the Holy Door and the Jubilee Year of Mercy with their families at home.