The Catholic Church needs the Year of Mercy to become an effective witness of God’ mercy, Pope Francis has said.
“The jubilee is a favourable time for all of us, so that in contemplating divine mercy, which surpasses every human limitation and shines in the darkness of sin, we may become more convinced and effective witnesses,” the Pope said during his weekly general audience.
A day after inaugurating the Year of Mercy, the Pope dedicated his audience talk to the significance he hopes the year will have for the Church, saying that it is a time to experience the “sweet and gentle touch” of God’s forgiveness and his presence in difficult times.
“In short, this jubilee is a privileged moment,” he said, “so that the Church may learn to choose only that which pleases God most”: forgiveness and mercy.
The Pope repeated a question asked by the 4th-century Doctor of the Church, St Ambrose. “Why does [the Bible] say that God is so happy after the creation of man and woman?” the Pope asked. “In the end, it was because he had someone to forgive. This is beautiful! To forgive is God’s joy; the being of God is mercy. For this reason, in this year, we should open our hearts so that this love, this joy of God may fill us with this mercy.”
Pope Francis stressed the importance of recognising one’s sins during the Holy Year in order to “strengthen within us the certainty of divine mercy”.
“‘Lord, I am a sinner. Come with your mercy.’ This is a beautiful prayer and it’s very easy to say every day,” he said.
Francis prays before statue of Mary at the Spanish Steps
Before a statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome last Tuesday Pope Francis prayed that, through Mary, Christians might recognise the victory of divine mercy over sin.
The Pope made his way to the Spanish Steps in the heart of Rome amid tight security to venerate the statue on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Reciting a prayer composed for the occasion, the Pope said he came not only in the name of families, young people and the elderly, but also for the sick, the imprisoned and “those who arrived from faraway lands in search of peace and work”.
The Pope placed them under the care of the “Mother of Mercy” whose “heart is full of tenderness toward all your children”.
“Gazing toward you, our Immaculate Mother, we recognise the victory of divine mercy over sin and over all its consequences,” he said. “May it reignite in us the hope of a better life, free from slavery, resentments and fear.”
After spending some time greeting the sick and the elderly in the square, Pope Francis proceeded to the Basilica of St Mary Major to spend several minutes in silent prayer before an icon of Mary and the Child Jesus, venerated as the protector of the people of Rome.
St Peter’s used for light show
The opening of the Year of Mercy last week culminated in a nature-inspired light show projected on to the façade of St Peter’s Basilica.
Inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, images of endangered animals and nature were projected on the basilica in a three-hour event entitled Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the Vatican’s evangelisation chief, said the event was “intended to present the beauty of creation”.
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