The Catholic News Agency reports that Pope Francis today declared a Year of Jubilee focused on mercy:
“Dear brothers and sisters, I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy,” the Pope told attendees of his March 13 penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“It’s a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy…
“I am convinced that the whole Church will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and every woman of our time,” Francis said, and entrusted the Holy Year to Mary, Mother of Mercy.
The scripture connected with the year is Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
The Jubilee, also called a Holy Year, will open this year on Dec. 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – and will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
The Pope is celebrating the second anniversary of his “unexpected” election, as National Public Radio describes it in a report on his interview on Mexican television earlier the same day.
Remembering the week that he was named pope, Francis said he had packed only a small suitcase for his trip to the Vatican, and he had already written a homily to deliver on Palm Sunday, after returning to Argentina.
In the same interview, the Pope expressed his expectation for a short pontificate – “four or five years, or two or three.”
The Vatican Insider explains the concept of a Jubilee Year, most recently celebrated by John Paul II and, before him, Pius XI:
The word “Jubilee” comes from the Hebrew “Yobel” meaning “billy goat”, in reference to the ram’s horn used in religious celebrations. The Jubilee is the year of the remission of sins and of suffering from sin, of reconciliation, of conversion and of sacramental penance. 365 days of solidarity, hope, justice and commitment to serving God in the spirit of joy and peace with everyone. Above all, however, the Jubilee Year is the year of Christ, the giver of life and of grace to humanity.
It is called “Holy Year” because it is celebrated with sacred rites and also because its mission is the holiness of human life.
It has been 15 years since the last Jubilee Year was declared:
The last Ordinary Holy Year, the year 2000, declared by John Paul II, was especially important because it celebrated the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ (apart from differences of exact chronological count). What is more, it will be the first Holy Year which marks the turn of a millennium: the earliest Jubilee was proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300.
Boniface VIII had intended for a Jubilee to be held each century. As of 1475 – in order to give every generation the chance to experience at least one Holy Year – the Ordinary Jubilee was celebrated every 25 years.
Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett
Photo by Alfredo Borba, Wikimedia Commons