Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves. There is, on the other hand, the man who peers into freedom’s ideal law and abides by it. He is no forgetful listener, but one who carries out the law in practice. Blest will this man be in whatever he does.
-James 1: 22, 25
All of us live very busy lives. We have so many obligations: family life, work, Church, and personal needs. We try to juggle all of these at one time and some times we do well and others not so much. Yet, we continue to try.
This then makes it hard for us to do more than live out our faith on Saturday evenings or Sundays. We get out of bed, go to our mass (mostly out of obligation) and if there on time, we hear the announcements but don’t really engage. We leave mass and that is the end of that until next week.
Yet, I want to challenge us during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to not just go through the motions. I want to make sure that we don’t miss this beautiful opportunity for ourselves and for others. This isn’t something that comes to us everyday and we ought to take advantage of the graces which are present here and now.
On December 8th, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, opened this Year of Mercy by opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he asked all bishops across the world to designate a Holy Door in their diocese. Pope Francis is serious about us living out this Year of Mercy. He knows that not every person in the world will have the resources or the ability to travel to Rome during the Holy Year so he has brought the door to you!
In our diocese, Archbishop Aymond, has designated St. Louis Cathedral as the location of the Holy Door. The main door of the cathedral, which is normally closed outside of major liturgies, is open every day for you to walk through and experience God’s Mercy. In addition, Archbishop Aymond has declared several pilgrimage sites throughout our archdiocese as places of prayer and encounter.
When was the last time you went to the Cathedral to pray and spend time with the Lord at our Mother Church? When was the last time you went to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the secondary patroness of our Archdiocese? When was the last time you went to pray with the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey? If the answer is never or if it has been a long time then this is a great time to visit these sites. A great opportunity to pray and ask God for clarity in your life. The parish will lead a pilgrimage to some of the sites on February 13th. This is the 1st Saturday in Lent and it will be a great way for us to begin our journey with the Lord.
In addition, VOL is hosting Evenings of Mercy every Wednesday. We have confessions, recitation of the chaplet of Divine Mercy, communal praying of Evening Prayer and an Adult Faith Formation session on some aspect of mercy. You can come for all or part of the evening and share in the graces of the Lord.
In this Year of Mercy, we can also take up the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. For those of us who may not remember what these are I will list them. The traditional list of the corporal works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbor the homeless, visit the sick, ransom the captive and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead. These aren’t things that require a lot of work but can be done as part of our daily routine during this year.
Lastly, we can also look for ways to restore broken relationships. It can be hard for us to reach out to someone who we feel has hurt us. We can have a justified sense of anger but in this Year of Mercy it is a perfect opportunity to overcome the hurt and be forgiving as Our Heavenly Father is forgiving. We can at least acknowledge that we are working on loving the person again in an unhindered way.
My brothers and sisters, let us not allow this Year of Mercy, this time of grace to pass us by. Let us be people who act on the word of the Lord. Let us be people, who though busy, take some time to enter in and actively live out the Word of the Lord.