Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley urged Catholics to commit to being merciful in all aspects of their lives, in a pastoral letter released Friday for the “Year of Mercy.”
O’Malley will distribute printed copies of the letter at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross during a multicultural procession on Saturday in honor of the Year of Mercy.
“A Year of Mercy is a trial run to make God’s mercy visible in the world,” he wrote. “To take care of each other, forgive each other, and help each other to practice the works of mercy with each other. Look at the good Samaritan and look at his willingness to forgive and make sacrifices for a stranger.”
Pope Francis declared that the 2016 Jubilee, a period that runs from December 2015 to November 2016, would be the “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.”
“During this Year of Mercy, we are also summoned to change the way we view other sinners and all those in need of mercy,” the letter states. “Sin, though tragic because it leads to a separation from God and others, is not the end of the story, because repentance leads to new life. When we see sinners and all those who are ‘lost,’ let us always try to lead them to this joyful path of reconciliation with the Father.”
O’Malley also discusses practicing both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Corporal works include feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and giving to the homeless. Spiritual works are more abstract, such as admonishing the sinner, forgiving all injuries, and praying for the living and dead, the archdiocese said.
Near the end of the letter, O’Malley provides several actions that lead Catholics to live the Year of Mercy well.
They are: read about God’s mercy, receive God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, grant mercy to those who have hurt you, bring others to receive God’s mercy this year, make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross this year, enter through the Holy Door and receive the Jubilee Indulgence, practice each of the works of mercy at least once, and recite the Jubilee of Mercy prayer.
“My prayer is that we will all become more like Christ during this Jubilee Year, that we will become people of mercy, who reveal God’s love and mercy to everyone we meet,” O’Malley writes.J.D. Capelouto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.