Year of Mercy

Mass Saturday to Mark the Closing of the Year of Mercy

November 12, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

Year of Mercy Officially Concludes on November 20, 2016

WHAT: Mass to conclude the Year of Mercy
WHEN: Saturday, November 12, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
WHERE: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (4431 Lindell)
WHO: Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Hermann and Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Robert J. Hermann, auxiliary bishop emeritus of St. Louis, will celebrate Mass at 5:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on Saturday, November 12, 2016, to mark the closing of the “Year of Mercy” which will officially conclude on November 20, 2016.

In April 2015, Pope Francis declared the Catholic Church would celebrate a “Holy Year,” known as an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year,” dedicated to the virtue of Mercy. The “Year of Mercy,” as it has been deemed, began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, when the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican was opened, having been sealed after the last Jubilee Year. The Year of Mercy will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 2016, which is the end of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

One of the traditions for a Jubilee Year is the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica. The opening, passing through, and sealing of the Holy Door at the end of the Jubilee Year have become significant elements in the Church’s Jubilee Year celebrations with special graces and what is called a “Jubilee Indulgence” offered to pilgrims who make the journey.

Pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of St. Louis include our two minor basilicas - the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France - and seven other local pilgrimage sites.

More information about the Jubilee Year of Mercy can be found at archstl.org/mercy.

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Click here for the press release announcing the beginning of the Year of Mercy.

Archdiocese of St. Louis to Host Weekend of Reconciliation

March 3, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS - Catholic churches across the Archdiocese of St. Louis will take part in a "Reconciliation Initiative" this weekend, March 4-5, in conjunction with the Year of Mercy and the season of Lent. More than 50 parishes will offer 75 scheduled opportunities throughout the weekend for Catholics to participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, also known as confession.

In 2014, during a regular audience with Vatican pilgrims, Pope Francis encouraged the assembled crowds to "Be courageous, and go to confession." For Catholics, the basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God, to list our sins with true sorrow before the priest, and to desire forgiveness.

"Forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves," added Pope Francis. "One asks it of another person, and in confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus."

The Gospels demonstrate the importance of the forgiveness of our sins. Lives of saints prove that the person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins, and a need for the sacrament of reconciliation. The consequences of Original Sin leave within us an inclination towards evil, and we often commit actual sins, both mortal and venial.

Catholics who need help, especially who have been away from the sacrament for some time, can simply ask the priest to help guide them through steps to make a good confession.

A complete list of parishes and more information about the sacrament of reconciliation can be found at archstl.org/confession. More information about the Year of Mercy can be found at archstl.org/mercy. 

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The Year of Mercy and the Gospel of Life

On April 11, 2015, Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in Misericordiae vultusWhen one thinks of mercy, particularly in the context of our Catholic faith, forgiveness and the Sacrament of Confession come to mind. Something deeper, however, is going on. At its core, this Jubilee Year of Mercy focuses us on restoring our dignity as sons and daughters of God; it is intimately connected with the Gospel of Life and its call for a greater respect and defense of human dignity.

In declaring the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis stated, “This Holy Year will bring to the fore the richness of Jesus’ mission echoed in the words of the prophet: to bring a word and gesture of consolation to the poor, to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from who it has been robbed” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 16). Yet, how does a focus on mercy restore human dignity?

Human Dignity and Mercy

Perhaps the clearest connection between the Gospel of Life and the concept of mercy can be found in St. John Paul II’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia, promulgated in 1980. In reflecting on the parable of the Prodigal Son, The Return of the Prodigal Sonhe focuses on the interior disposition of the son who realizes that the greater loss he has suffered was the loss of his status as a son in his father’s house. The loss of the son’s dignity would certainly be warranted under the order of justice for not only squandering his father’s material goods but also by offending his father in his actions. The father, however, is faithful to the love he has in his fatherhood. Love is the well-spring from which the mercy of the father springs. This love causes the father to be concerned about the dignity of his son. Despite the material loss caused by the son, the father sees the greater good to be saved: the son’s humanity. The father is able to rejoice because his greatest concern is of the dignity of the son; he cannot help but continually await his son’s return.

From this reflection, we see that, fundamentally, mercy, rooted in love, restores human dignity. St. John Paul II puts it this way: “Mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man” (Dives in Misericordia, no. 6). This type of mercy, rather than humiliating or causing uneasiness, restores one to his or her proper dignity. We see the attitude of the father not as one seeking to judge or condemn the prodigal son, however much he may have deserved it; rather, the father is filled with joy. The son is able to appreciate who he is and his actions in the light of truth.

A Divine Dignity

This dignity is also what lies at the center of the Gospel of Life, that is, a profound relationship between human beings and God. The Gospel of Life is about proclaiming the desire of God to be in an everlasting communion with us, granting us a dignity “little less than a god, crowned…with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:6). As St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “Man, as a being, is of no account; he is dust, grass, vanity. But once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son, he becomes part of the family of that Being, whose excellence and greatness no one can see, hear, or understand. What words, thoughts, or flight of the spirit can praise the superabundance of this grace? Man surpasses his nature: mortal, he becomes immortal; perishable, he becomes imperishable; fleeting, he becomes eternal; human, he becomes divine” (De Beatitudinibus, Oratio VII).

Merciful Like the Father

This call to share in the very life of God is the source of the incomparable dignity and worth of each human person. It is this dignity which we seek to uphold and defend in working to end abortion, prevent euthanasia, and in serving the poor. Every person is created for and designed to exist in an eternal relationship with God. Violations of a person’s dignity inhibit one’s ability to freely live in that communion.

In Evangelium vitae, St. John Paul II points out that, even after Cain slays his brother, God is still merciful to him, protecting and defending him from others wishing to kill him, even those seeking to avenge the death of Abel. He says that “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this” showing for “the paradoxical mystery of the merciful justice of God” (Evangelium vitae, no. 9). Even in the face of grave sin which ripped away another’s dignity, God remains merciful.

There is a reason why feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful and so forth are called works of mercy: they restore dignity to those from whom it has been taken. As Pope Francis states, “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible.” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 9) These acts, in imitation of Christ, speak of the mercy of the Father and make visible the great love the Father has for each and every one of his children.

Building a Culture of Life is therefore intimately tied with being heralds of mercy. We bring mercy to the unborn child at risk of abortion for they are on “the outermost fringes of society” with no voice. We bring mercy to those impacted by abortion by speaking of the peace and forgiveness found in Christ Jesus. We bring mercy to those sentenced to death, recalling the mercy God had on Cain in Genesis. We bring mercy to those seeking physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia or those who are at risk of being victims by confirming their dignity as sons and daughters of God and sharing in their suffering.

Thus, as Pope Francis calls for the Church to “announce the mercy of God,” it is truly a command to recognize the God-given dignity of every human person and to help them realize it in themselves. To do so may require stepping outside of our comfort zones or breaking down our lens of indifference to see situations from a different perspective. By being “merciful like the Father” in charitable acts towards others, invitations to return to the Sacraments, prayers, and evangelization, may we reveal the love of God for every person.

This article originally appeared on Catholic Stand and is reprinted with permission.

Year of Mercy Begins Sunday in Archdiocese of St. Louis

December 7, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

What: Ceremonial opening of the center narthex doors of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Where: Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (4431 Lindell Blvd.)
When: Sunday, December 13, before 10 a.m. Mass.
Who: Most Reverend Edward Rice, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis
Why: To begin the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis in April

ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Edward Rice, auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, will open the center narthex doors of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in a special ceremony Sunday, December 13, prior to the regularly scheduled 10 a.m. Mass. The ceremony will mark the local beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The doors were sealed on September 8, to remind the faithful to prepare their hearts for the Jubilee.

In April, Pope Francis declared the Catholic Church would celebrate a “Holy Year,” known as an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year,” dedicated to the virtue of Mercy. The “Year of Mercy,” as it has been deemed, will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015, when the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican will be opened. However, on November 29, during his recent trip to Africa, Pope Francis also symbolically opened the Holy Door in a special ceremony at the cathedral of Bangui, Central African Republic. The Year of Mercy will conclude on Sunday, November 20, 2016, which is the end of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The idea of a “Jubilee Year” traces its origins to the Israelites who celebrated a Jubilee every fifty years according to scriptural custom. Pope Boniface VIII called for the first recorded “ordinary Jubilee” in 1300. Twenty-five ordinary Jubilees have been called since, roughly every 25 years, though an “extraordinary” Jubilee can be called by a pontiff at any time. Pope John Paul II declared the most recent extraordinary Jubilee in 1983, while the most recent ordinary Jubilee Year took place in 2000.

One of the traditions for a Jubilee Year is the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica. The opening, passing through, and sealing of the Holy Door at the end of the Jubilee Year have become significant elements in the Church’s Jubilee Year celebrations with special graces and what is called a “Jubilee Indulgence” offered to pilgrims who make the journey.

Because most Catholics will be unable to make a pilgrimage during this Jubilee Year to visit the four major basilicas in Rome, for the first time in history Pope Francis has asked for a Holy Door in every diocese around the world, especially in the minor basilicas. Diocesan bishops also have the authority to establish other sacred places or special churches that can be pilgrimage locations.

Pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of St. Louis include our two minor basilicas - the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France - and seven other local pilgrimage sites.

More information about the Jubilee Year of Mercy, including a calendar of events and a complete list of local pilgrimage sites, can be found at archstl.org/mercy.

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Statement Regarding Annulment Process

September 8, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS - Today, Pope Francis issued “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (The Lord Jesus, the Gentle Judge) pertaining to the annulment process for the Latin-rite Church. It is not uncommon for the Catholic Church to review and tweak the laws and regulations regarding annulments. Previous popes such as Pius XI, Paul VI and John Paul II also issued revisions.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is studying the document to determine the specific ways in which it will impact the tribunal process and pastoral care of the faithful. We will have a more complete understanding of the changes within the coming days and weeks upon consultation with the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The changes will go into effect on December 8, 2015, in conjunction with the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

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