Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2016 and the Year of Mercy

Jubilee Year of Mercy

The title for this Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaims, Be Merciful Like the Father. But before we can "be" merciful, we have some serious work ahead of us, in fact a whole year of work. So we need a plan and I offer the following as a model.

This plan is built upon three things:
PRAYER: In order to show mercy, one must first know mercy, in a personal way, to know through experience what real mercy looks like, feels like. The problem the Pharisees had with Jesus' show of mercy (the woman caught in adultery) was the belief that they where self-righteous, sinless by their observance of the law, and thus deserving of God's favour.  

In Luke 18: Jesus describes two men praying, one a Pharisee the other a Tax Collector. The Pharisee lists all the reasons why he is deserving. The Tax Collector has no excuse, but can only cry out, "Be merciful to me a sinner".

We need to get "into" these many scripture accounts that show and teach us about mercy. Here I recommend the Ignatian way of Praying Scripture. By this we take a passage of scripture and get into it, seeing, hearing, feeling; identifying ourselves as a participant - being there in the scene. 

Identifying our own need for mercy, will inspire us to reach out to those the Lord puts on our hearts, to become an intercessor on their behalf, so that they can open their hearts to this great gift of mercy.

STUDY: Much will be written about mercy this year. The official Vatican website is a good starting place. From there we can choose the resources that compliment our "prayer experience". The key here is those resources that connect with our prayer. We do not want to just be a passing reader, rather a serious student. As our understanding deepens, our participation with the Church's mission of evangelization through mercy grows.

ACTION: If we have worked well through the first two elements, this third will flow naturally. The works of mercy become our check list for action.

The spiritual works of mercy include:

•  Counsel the doubtful;
•  Instruct the ignorant;
•  Convert the sinner;
•  Comfort the sorrowful;
•  Forgive offenses willingly;
•  Bear wrongs patiently;
•  Pray for the living and the dead.

The corporal works of mercy include:

•  Feed the hungry;
•  Give drink to the thirsty;
•  Clothe the naked;
•  Visit the imprisoned;
•  Shelter the homeless;
•  Visit the sick;
•  Bury the dead.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas 2015

We find this Christmas of 2015 starting us off into the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Much is written and told of the "Spirit of Christmas", and in all of this you will discover that the character of mercy stands out. At the assigned moment in time, Jesus comes into the world, sent to us from Mercy, for mercy. ".... I have come to call sinners ...." 

In the more serious Christmas stories, the broken things in people's relationships are healed by mercy - Loving mercy, enters the ciaos of hurting, mending the broken and restoring bonds of friendship and love. Characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey find their broken view of the meaning of life healed by the compassionate and loving mercy they receive from others. 

The first Christmas gift is Jesus himself, a gift given to us by the Father - sent to gather us to himself and lead us home, through the doors of mercy, into the Father's house. Yet, there is an irony surrounding mercy, namely the mixed reception it receives. The gospels tell us that at first people are drawn to Jesus; “…all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” Lk. 4:22  

But quickly things change when Jesus speaks of mercy and the forgiveness of sins. When a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus for healing, Jesus gives him something greater, mercy and the forgiveness of his sins.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Lk. 5:17
Quickly things changed and the Scribes and Pharisees began a persecution against Jesus. It is interesting how easily we may ask for mercy for ourselves, but how hard it is to show mercy to others, especially to those who are against us.

Perhaps we may not have made the connection between the True Spirit of Christmas and Mercy, yet there it is. People speak of keeping the spirit of Christmas alive throughout the whole year. Perhaps by our efforts to participate in this Year of Mercy, we will.

May I suggest, as a preparation for your participation in the Christmas Liturgies,
the following meditations:

Monday, 21 December 2015

Intercessory Prayer Card

I have created a Prayer Card that can be used as you engage in intercessory prayer for another. We have already discussed this subject as a way of practicing the Corporal Work of Mercy, "Praying for the Living and the Dead - LINK. 

Prayer for the Year of Mercy

Almighty God,
you reveal your love for us
in your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is the face of your mercy.
Pour out your mercy upon us
that we may bring to every person
your goodness and tenderness —
signs of your Kingdom,
present among us.
May we become merciful
like you, Father, are merciful.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Father of all Mercy
As I come before you in prayer
I carry in my heart this day
My brother/sister
Who is in need of your Mercy.

Great has been your love for me
Rescuing me out of the
Clutches of evil
And restoring me
To my place in your presence

Now open the doors of Mercy
To my brother/sister
Who I now carry home to you
Our Father of Mercy.

The Prayer Card is designed to be downloaded so that you can print it from your own computer. There are two formats from which to choose: (Word - docx) and (PDF).
In the graphic there is a blank space into which you can write the name of the one for whom you are interceding. You can carry it with you in pock or purse, or keep it in prayer book or bible to mark key passages you receive in pray. 

  • Carry it with you as you enter the DOORS of the Church. 
  • Offer its prayers as you prepare to celebrate Mass.
  • Carry in your heart the one for whom you intercede as you approach the Table of the Lord to receive Holy Communion.
  • In spirit, place them in the arms of the Father.
  • Recall these words of Jesus' prayer of intercession -
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Jo. 17:
The links to these documents:
Follow these steps:
  1. Select and open the file
  2. Print page one only
  3. Turn the printed page over and reinsert into your printer paper tray
  4. Print page two only
  5. Trim the edges of the double-sided page (long sides first - then top & bottom using the trim guide marks (+) as guides
  6. Fold 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Advent III - A Cry for Mercy

In Jesus' prayer of intercession in John 17: Jesus prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.”

As intercessors of Mercy, it is important that we have this same understanding of what we are up against when interceding for another. When the world began it was, "very good", as the book of Genesis tells us. Within this design, man was placed with a specific purpose to fulfill - to be stewards of God's design, bringing it to its ultimate fulfillment - the glory of God.

The world is not the problem, he is, the Evil One. Driven by jealous pride, he sets about to corrupt, by lies and deception, man's understanding of his role in God's good creation.

Man becomes the prodigal son, lured away from the Father's House by the false expectation that he can redesign the world in his own image, for his own selfish purpose, only to find himself destitute and alone - a branch cut off from the tree of life, laying on the ground, withering and dying. Alone and broken, he can only cry out for mercy.


So how are we to understand the true nature of mercy? Look at it this way - a man is traveling along a road that brings him to the edge of a fast flowing stream, cutting him off from the other side, preventing him from getting to his desired destination. There is a bridge connecting to the other side, but on it is a sign which reads, "DANGER! This bridge has been fraudulently built. Do NOT attempt to Cross it". Driven by the desire to reach his own planned destination, he ignores the warning, starts crossing the bridge, which collapses under him, sending him hurtling into the rushing water below.

Mercy is about sin, its fault, failure and inevitable consequences. If someone, through no fault of their own, has an accident and is seriously injured, they do not need mercy, they need assistance. It's someone, who by their own fault, brings upon themselves dire consequence, which they are powerless to correct, who needs mercy, forgiveness and rescue. 

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mtt: 9:13

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the older brother has no mercy in his heart for his brother. He could have stayed home, obeying the rules of the house as he did. It was his brother's choice to run off and make a total mess of his life. He deserves what he got. 

Their father loves both his sons. He teaches his sons that love begets mercy, for it is the only way to have both of them with him. One does not deserve mercy, they need mercy, for only mercy can save the sinner from the consequences of their sins.

To be an effective intercessor, one must acquire the mind and heart of the Father. This is the goal set before us in this Year of Mercy, To Be Merciful Like the Father. During this Jubilee Year, let us examine our hearts to see who we most resemble, the older brother, or the Father?


Lord Jesus, what love filled your heart when the young man approached,
asking the way to eternal life.
What sadness you felt when he turn away,
unable to accept your invitation to come and follow you.
Jesus, you alone are the truth. You alone are the way that leads to the fullness of life.
Yet few are they who seek and find you.
Strong are the forces pulling at the hearts of our young people.
Shrewd and clever is the persuasion that lures them away from you.

Champion of the young, how deep is the desire of your heart
that they should come to know you.
What blessing they will experience when you fill them with the Holy Spirit.
You will enlighten their minds with your Truth.
You will inflame their hearts with love for God.
You will heal their wounds and restore the innocence of their youth.
With you in them and they in you their lives will be transformed.
They will become instruments of peace and signs of hope
for this troubled world of ours. (Mark 10:17)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Advent III - Intercessory Prayer of Mercy

One of the key ways that this Year of Mercy can be observed is to put into practice the Works of Mercy. They are -

CORPORAL WORKS of MERCY: Feed the hungry + Give drink to the thirsty + Clothe the naked + Shelter the homeless + Visit those in prison + Comfort the sick + Bury the dead.

SPIRITUAL WORKS of MERCY: Admonish sinners + Instruct the uninformed + Counsel the doubtful + Comfort the sorrowful + Be patient with those in error + Forgive offenses + Pray for the living and the dead.

Since this blog is devoted to the practice of prayer, a special page has been set up that will be a resource for the Spiritual Work - Praying for the Living and the Dead.


This Year of Mercy is directly associated with the Church's focus on Evangelization. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization will be responsible for the various resources associated with the observance of this Jubilee Year. This will be a year full of grace and prayer will be key in our observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Go to the page - Year of Mercy - Prayer of Intercession

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Advent II - Merciful and Gracious is the LORD

Holy Door, Cathedral Basilica Christ the King

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Not according to our sins does he deal with us
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
Psalm PS 103

Pope Francis Opening the Holy Doors 08/10/2015

Friday, 4 December 2015

Advent I - Official Hymn for the Year of Mercy

Official Hymn
for the
Year of Mercy

English-language version of the hymn 

Misericordes sicut Pater! 

[from Luke 6:36, the official motto of the Jubilee]

1. We give thanks to the Father, for he is good  [from Psalm 135:6]
in aeternum mercy eius
He created the world with wisdom
in aeternum mercy eius
He leads his people in history
in aeternum mercy eius
He forgives and welcomes His children [from Luke 15]
in aeternum mercy eius

2. Let us give thanks to the Son, Light of the nations
in aeternum mercy eius
He loved us with a heart of flesh [from John 15:12]
in aeternum mercy eius
we receive from Him, to Him we give ourselves
in aeternum mercy eius
the heart to open to those who hunger and thirst [from Matthew 25,31ss]
in aeternum mercy eius
Misericordes sicut Pater!
Misericordes sicut Pater!

3. We ask the Spirit the seven holy gifts
in aeternum mercy eius
source of all good, sweet relief
in aeternum mercy eius
comforted by Him, offer comfort [from John 15: 26-27]
in aeternum mercy eius
I love hopes and endures all things [from 1 Cor 13.7]
in aeternum mercy eius

4. We call for peace to the God of all peace
in aeternum mercy eius
the earth awaits the gospel of the Kingdom [from Matthew 24,14]
in aeternum mercy eius
grace and joy to those who love and forgive
in aeternum mercy eius
will be the new heavens and the earth [from Revelation 21.1]
in aeternum mercy eius
Misericordes sicut Pater!

Visit these scripture references as a source for your meditation.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Advent I - Merciful Like the Father

In his apostolic letter announcing this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said this; "It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective."

The official logo for the Year of Mercy contains the title; Merciful Like the Father. The Holy Father's wish is that during this year of grace, we will:
  • ... have a living experience
  • ... of the closeness of the Father
  • ... who's tenderness is almost tangible
Have you ever met or spoken with someone who had just been forgiven, unconditionally, for something serious they had done? Have you, personally, experienced such forgiveness? These know what mercy really is - what it does to you in the depths of of your soul. You become a different person. Mercy purges one of the corruption of pride, freeing them to go out of themselves and live as God intended for them when he created them. The lepers who encountered Jesus' healing mercy are a compelling image of the transformation mercy brings. Luke 5:12

Perhaps, the most revealing example of mercy is found in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:11. The whole of chapter 15: focuses our attention on Jesus' mission of mercy. We need to return often to this text to enter ever more deeply into its lessons on Mercy.

Here are a few points to get us started.

 Parable of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-32

+ There are two sons, loved by their father - both belong in the "Father's House."
+ Both are infected by pride, but in different ways.

Younger Son
Older Son
I want it all
I deserve it all
Inheritance wasted
Inheritance coveted
Blinded by pleasure
Blinded by resentment
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
“Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders;”
But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’
“My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Preparing for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

The solemn inauguration of the Holy Year of Mercy is marked by the opening of the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica, December 8th. 2015. 

The local Ordinary will decide in which church of the diocese the Door of Mercy will be opened.  There should be a Door of Mercy opened in every diocese and eparchy of the world. Following the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s, all the particular Churches will open their own Doors of Mercy in communion with the Church of Rome as part of the Eucharistic celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday). [In the Diocese of Hamilton, the blessing and Opening of the Holy Door takes place at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King, December 13, 2015 at 7:00pm ]

The Jubilee of Mercy was announced by Pope Francis as a year to be lived intensely in each particular Church, allowing every person to encounter the mercy of God the Father through diligent labor for the Church's mission there. The most evident sign of this pastoral care is the chance to open a Door of Mercy in every diocese. These doors, analogous to the Holy Doors of the Papal Basilicas in Rome, will permit even people who cannot travel to Rome to make a Jubilee pilgrimage.

The doors of the churches that will be formally opened are real and tangible. People will literally be able to walk through them. But it is important to understand the great reality that lies behind the symbolism of this act. Our purpose and destiny in this life is to ENTER - to enter in and be in the very presence of God - to personally encounter God the Father, face to face. 

Churches with their ornate entrance doors are a common sight. People see them and walk by them every day. But some people walk up to these doors and enter in. They do so because they belong, it is their privilege to do so. And how is it that they have come have this privilege? The God of MERCY has invited them to come in and they have excepted. They now belong to the household of God the Father. This is their home, they have the right to enter.

In Matthew's gospel, chapter 22: Jesus frames these mysteries in the form of a beautiful parable, the king's wedding banquet and the invited guests. The first group invited are too busy and don't come. Then the king instructs that any and all be invited. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Those hearing Jesus parable understood that it was required, as a sign of respect and honour, that everyone invited wear a wedding garment when attending a wedding celebration. But these underprivileged of the streets would have no means of obtaining one. Implied in Jesus parable, that the king had provided each one with a wedding garment, covering their wretchedness with dignity and honour. 
  • The wedding feast - the union of humanity with divinity - salvation.
  • The invited - everyone, good or bad, willing to accept.
  • The wedding garment - MERCY, a pure gift - clothing with holiness even the wretched and unworthy sinner.
  • The wearing of this garment - a testimony of acceptance and gratitude - faith - "... be merciful just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:36.
The caption on the official logo for this Jubilee Year reads, "Merciful Like the Father." It sets out the agenda for the Jubilee - to show mercy to all as the Father has been merciful to us. 

The work that lies before us in our prayer and study is to acquire a deeper understanding of the Father's Mercy, and how we are to imitate it in our dealings with others. This sets the agenda for Voices in the weeks to come.

Prayer for the Year of Mercy

Almighty God,
you reveal your love for us
in your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is the face of your mercy.
Pour out your mercy upon us
that we may bring to every person
your goodness and tenderness —
signs of your Kingdom,
present among us.
May we become merciful
like you, Father, are merciful.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Temple Sacrifices and Mercy

Brothers and sisters:
Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins.

But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.

For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.
 Heb 10:11-14, 18

"Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin."
Among ancient peoples, it was believed that the gods acted very much like any human ruler would when dealing with others. When they were offended, they reacted in anger, exacting revenge by causing all manner of chaos to befall any and all who had offended them.
And like it was with all human masters who had been offended, it was possible to be "redeemed" from the wrath of the gods if an exacting price was payed to appease them. This was done by sacrificing valuable things on altars which were dedicated to the various gods. All things of value could be sacrificed, but the most valuable thing of all was human life itself, and so human sacrifice, offered to the gods, became foremost among all possible sacrifices.
With Abraham, the understanding of God changes from polytheism to monotheism, from there being many gods to One God alone. But understanding just who God really is and what this means for mans relationship with God, will take time. One of the first things learned was that God did want human lives to be sacrificed to win back God's favour. The story of this lesson being learned is found in the book of Genesis ch. 22, the story of Abraham and Issac on Mount Moriah.

Here, among the decedents of Abraham, the practice of sacrificing human life ends, but the practice of offering other sacrifices continues until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. God does want something from us when we offend by our sinful acts. God wants our hearts - our hearts to change, to give up (sacrifice) our attachment to wrong-doing, and to embrace what is TRUTH, what is pleasing to God. 

Jesus describes his mission in the world in this way: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Jo. 3:17 When the religious leaders are scandalized by his association with people whom they judged rejected by God, he responded:
When our action are in contradiction to God's Truth we sin, and this is a direct offence against the person of God. But God does not take revenge against us for our sins, rather He acts to change us - to bring about a conversion in us to reject our sinful practice and embrace God's truth. What God wants is for us to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1Pt. 1:13-16

We are about to enter an Extraordinary Jubilee Year that will focus on MERCY. This text lays out for us a clear agenda for our prayer in this coming year:
Go and learn what this means, 
‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ 
For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mtt. 9:13


Featured Videos

Featured Videos.