Bishop Ralph – Year of Jubilee – The Feast of Pentecost
Diocese of Hallam – Pastoral Letter
By the time you read this reflection, the Jubilee Year of Mercy promulgated by Pope Francis will be well under way. It is a year of reflection and celebration, which has captured my interest and imagination in a way that previous year-long celebrations have not. I feel that I am not alone. The number of people who attended Mass in the cathedral on the Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception to mark the beginning of the the year is, I think, a testimony to this.
The Church has always preached mercy. Even in the days when Redemptorists were well-known as ‘hell fire preachers’, in fairness , we always had more than a word or two to say about the mercy of God. We could do no other when you consider that our motto is ‘‘with him there is fullness of redemption’’. However, often, the Church’s message of mercy has either not been heard or has been misunderstood by the world at large, and even by some within the Church.
In the Papal Bull promulgating the Year of Jubilee, Pope Francis, perhaps reflecting on this fact has this to say:
The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. MV10
Part of this ‘return to basics’ for Pope Francis is the rediscovery of, and renewed commitment to, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. As a child, like many others of my generation, I had to learn the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy by heart. Now, I am afraid, the memory is fading and I had to look them up to be sure of getting them all! I will leave you to check them for yourself! This programme of faith in action, Pope Francis reminds us, is a good indicator of how well – or not – we are living as the disciples of Jesus and ultimately on how we will be judged. “Let us not forget the words of St John of the Cross: ‘as we prepare to leave this life, we will be judged on the basis of love’ ”. MV15
The Year of Mercy could not be more timely. It has been a difficult year with terrorist attacks in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, France and the USA resulting in a significant and merciless loss of human life. The Church has an opportunity this year to remind the world that there is a better way to live and that “mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life, and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope”. MV10 But, of course, it all begins with us.
We pray that this year may be a moment in the lives of each of us when we grow in a spirit of forgiveness, are more ready to seek reconciliation in moments of conflict and more willing to share the tender mercy of God with others.
+Ralph Heskett C.Ss.R
Bishop of Hallam