What is the Jubilee of Mercy?
In the Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae vultus, Pope Francis declared that the Jubilee of Mercy will begin on December 8, 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and conclude on November 20, 2016 (the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe). December 8, 2015 also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, a Council that sought to bring the love of God to the modern world. Similarly, the Holy Father strongly desires this Jubilee celebration of mercy to be lived out in the daily lives of the faithful, and all who turn to God for compassionate love and mercy.
How do we live out the Jubilee of Mercy in our daily lives?
In Misericordiae vultus, Pope Francis emphasizes the need for the Church and all her members to live out the loving mercy that God has for us. Our response to God's loving mercy towards us is to act in that same way to all those we meet. The Holy Father reminds us that "Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church's very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love" (MV, 10. . . ). As members of the Body and Christ, our lives should reflect this witness of mercy to those we meet on a daily basis.
What is a jubilee year?
The practice of a jubilee year has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and evidence for it can be found in the Old Testament (for example, see Leviticus 25). The jubilee year was called every fifty years and was a time for forgiveness. It stood as a reminder of God's providence and mercy. The dedication of a year for this emphasis provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God. As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, these themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity continued.
How is this Jubilee different from other Jubilee years?
The Jubilee of Mercy that Pope Francis has called, from December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016, is an Extraordinary Jubilee. This designation as an "Extraordinary Jubilee" sets it apart from the ordinary cycle of jubilees, or holy years, which are called every 25 years in the Catholic Church. By calling for a holy year outside of the normal cycle, a particular event or theme is emphasized. Pope Francis called this particular Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to direct our attention and actions "on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's actions in our lives."
What are the major planned events of the Jubilee year?
There are many events planned throughout the Jubilee of Mercy. The calendar of events lists the events that will take place at the Vatican. Throughout the year, there will be Jubilee celebrations for various groups who engage in the work of mercy and who have been shown God's mercy. Additionally, Pope Francis will participate in particular "Jubilee" signs, which witness to the works of mercy. Although there are many events planned for official celebrations at the Vatican, the Holy Father encourages dioceses throughout the world to participate in these celebrations recognizing God's mercy in their own local communities.
What are the Holy Doors of Mercy?
The Door of Mercy is a special Holy Door which Pope Francis has asked to be opened in every Diocese during the Extraordinary Holy Year in order to allow the faithful in every part of the world to experience the Mercy of the Father in its fullness. In the Bull of Indiction Misericordiae Vultus, he writes: “On the same Sunday [Third Sunday of Advent], I decree that in every local church, at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion.”