In the apostolic letter "Misericordia et miserable" Francis writes that for the Church, mercy "constitutes its very existence." "There is no law or precept can prevent God from once more embracing the son who returns to him". Mercy - key of the relationship between God and man – should permeate the life and activity of the Christian community and pastors. A World Day of the Poor.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Jubilee of Mercy has ended, and the Holy Doors are closed, but "mercy cannot be a parenthesis in the life of the Church", because it "constitutes its very existence." Now, therefore, "it is time to look forward and to understand how to continue with fidelity, joy and enthusiasm to experience the richness of God's mercy" because this is "the mercy of time," the time to promote a "culture of mercy" that gives rise to a " a real cultural revolution, beginning with simple gestures capable of reaching body and spirit, people’s very lives ".
This is the principle according to which Pope Francis in the Apostolic Letter " Misericordia et miserable" says that " Our communities can remain alive and active in the work of the new evangelization in the measure that the “pastoral conversion” to which we are called will be shaped daily by the renewing force of mercy".
In this perspective the Letter also announces a number of initiatives: the provision "from now on to all the priests, by virtue of their ministry, the power to absolve those who have procured the sin of abortion", the continuation of the ministry of the Missionaries of Mercy and the possibility for those who "for various reasons attend churches officiated by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X of receiving sacramental absolution of their sins validly and lawfully," the establishment of the World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated the anniversary of the XXXIII Sunday in ordinary Time .
Beyond and before any concrete initiatives, the document expresses the desire that mercy - key to the relationship between God and man – permeate the life and activity of the Christian community and shepherds. It "must have primacy over all", because "no law or precept can prevent God from once more embracing the son who returns to him, admitting that he has done wrong but intending to start his life anew. Remaining only at the level of the law is equivalent to thwarting faith and divine mercy".
" Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father’s love, which Jesus sought to reveal by his entire life. Every page of the Gospel is marked by this imperative of a love that loves to the point of forgiveness. Even at the last moment of his earthly life, as he was being nailed to the cross, Jesus spoke words of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Nothing of what a repentant sinner places before God’s mercy can be excluded from the
embrace of his forgiveness. For this reason, none of us has the right to make forgiveness conditional. Mercy is always a gratuitous act of our heavenly Father, an unconditional and unmerited act of love. Consequently, we cannot risk opposing the full freedom of the love with which God enters into the life of every person".
The conclusion of the Jubilee, then, " it is time to look to the future and to understand how best to continue, with joy, fidelity and enthusiasm, experiencing the richness of God’s mercy. Our communities can remain alive and active in the work of the new evangelization in the measure that the “pastoral conversion” to which we are called will be shaped daily by the renewing force of mercy. Let us not limit its action; let us not sadden the Spirit, who constantly points out new paths to take in bringing to everyone the Gospel of salvation. First, we are called to celebrate mercy. What great richness is present in the Church’s prayer when she invokes God as the Father of mercies!".
Beginning withthe liturgy. " From the beginning to the end of the Eucharistic elebration, mercy constantly appears in the dialogue between the assembly at prayer and the heart of the Father, who rejoices to bestow his merciful love." And "in the Sacramental life, mercy is granted us in abundance. It is not without significance that the Church mentions mercy explicitly in the formulae of the two “sacraments of healing”, namely, the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick".
As for the Word, " would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. Creative initiatives can help make this an opportunity for the faithful to become living vessels for the transmission of God’s word. Initiatives of this sort would certainly include the practice of lectio divina, so that the prayerful reading of the sacred text will help support and strengthen the spiritual life. Such a reading, centred on themes relating to mercy, will enable a personal experience of the great fruitfulness of the biblical text – read in the light of the Church’s spiritual tradition – and thus give rise to concrete gestures and works of charity".
"The celebration of mercy takes place in a very special way with the Sacrament of Reconciliation." In this regard Francis writes that "an experience of grace lived out by the Church with great effectiveness in the Jubilee Year has certainly been the service of the
Missionaries of Mercy" that "I wish it to continue until further notice as a concrete sign that the grace of the Jubilee remains alive and effective the world over. As a direct expression of my concern and proximity to the Missionaries of Mercy in this period, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization will supervise them and find the most suitable forms for the exercise of this valuable ministry".
Still in the ministry of reconciliation "lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life . In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation ". " We have to remember - we read later - each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history; this is what makes us different from everyone else. Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the merciful gaze of God. This demands, especially of priests, a careful, profound and far -sighted spiritual discernment, so that everyone, none excluded, can feel accepted by God, participate actively in the life of the community and be part of that People of God which journeys tirelessly towards the fullness of his kingdom of justice, love, forgiveness and mercy".
The Jubilee also "is the time of mercy for each and all, since no one can think that he or she is cut off from God’s closeness and the power of his tender love. It is the time of mercy because those who are weak and vulnerable, distant and alone, ought to feel the presence of brothers and sisters who can help them in their need". "It's time to give space to mercy to give life to many new works, the fruit of grace", to the suffering of many who suffer from hunger and thirst, who migrate "from one country to another in search of food, work, home and peace ", who are victims of new forms of poverty and marginalization.
"Let us, therefore, make every effort to give concrete form to the charity and at the same time intelligence to works of mercy." It has a "social character" that " demands that we not simply stand by and do nothing. It requires us to banish indifference and hypocrisy, lest our plans and projects remain a dead letter". " We are called to promote a culture of mercy based on the rediscovery of encounter with others, a culture in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters". A culture which " is shaped in assiduous prayer, in docility to the working of the Holy Spirit, in knowledge of the lives of the saints and in being close to the poor. It urges us not to overlook situations that call for our involvement. The temptation to theorize “about” mercy can be overcome to the extent that our daily life becomes one of participation and sharing ".
" This is the time of mercy. Each day of our journey is marked by God’s presence. He guides our steps with the power of the grace that the Spirit pours into our hearts to make them capable of loving. It is the time of mercy for each and all, since no one can think that he or she is cut off from God’s closeness and the power of his tender love. It is the time of mercy because those who are weak and vulnerable, distant and alone, ought to feel the presence of brothers and sisters who can help them in their need. It is the time of mercy because the poor should feel that they are regarded with respect and concern by others who have overcome indifference and discovered what is essential in life. It is the time of mercy because no sinner can ever tire of asking forgiveness and all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Father " (FP).