by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
There are less than two months remaining of the special jubilee Year of Mercy.
Father Ed Oen, the pastor of St. Mary Parish in St. Benedict, has reported that busloads of pilgrims have come from both Kansas and Nebraska to walk through the Holy Door and pray in what has been designated as one of the eight architectural wonders of Kansas.
Similarly, Father Harry Schneider has marveled at the many pilgrims who have visited the Cathedral of St. Peter to pass prayerfully through its designated Holy Door.
Several pastors have noted an increase in confessions at their parishes during this jubilee year. Many penitents are returning to the sacraments after being absent for many years.
While making pastoral visits or installing new pastors, I have noticed boxes containing the personal commitments made last Advent by parishioners to practice one or more of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy during this jubilee Year of Mercy.
I have also been edified by the seriousness with which pastors and parish councils have considered my invitation to make a parish commitment or a recommitment to live in a very concrete way one or more of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
I am especially gratified by the parishes that chose to enter into a twinning relationship with another parish.
It is my earnest desire that as individuals and as an archdiocese we conclude well the jubilee Year of Mercy.
Therefore, I am inviting every member of the archdiocese to join me in making “a do-it-yourself retreat” by pondering the daily meditations in Father Michael Gaitley’s book, “33 Days to Merciful Love.”
Father Gaitley’s book provides 33 days of meditations that draw heavily upon the writings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux as well as St. Faustina. The jubilee year officially ends on Nov. 20 with the celebration of the solemnity of Christ the King.
I invite everyone to begin this retreat on the feast of St. Luke, Oct. 18. The Gospel of Luke is sometimes referred to as the Gospel of Mercy, particularly because of its 15th chapter. Several parishes have ordered large quantities of “33 Days to Merciful Love,” and will be making them available to their parishioners for significantly discounted prices.
If your parish does not have any available copies of “33 Days to Merciful Love,” you can also acquire one for $9.95 from the archdiocese by contacting Tim Chik via email at: email@example.com or by phone at (913) 721-1097. If you cannot afford the discounted price of $9.95, please contact Dianna by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and the archdiocese will provide you with a free copy.
The retreat concludes on the solemnity of Christ the King with each participant praying a prayer of consecration to Divine Mercy. Father Gaitley actually provides two forms for the prayer of consecration. Some parishes may invite people to make the prayer of consecration during Mass and may provide prayer cards with the text for one of the consecration formulas.
Another option is for families to enthrone the image of Divine Mercy at an appropriate place in your home and to make the prayer of consecration as a family. Father Gaitley has an appendix in the book explaining the meaning of the enthronement and with instructions on how to do an enthronement in your home.
I cannot think of a better way to conclude the jubilee Year of Mercy than making this do-it-yourself retreat in preparation for consecrating yourself to Divine Mercy. I hope you will join me in this prayerful conclusion to this jubilee year.
Finally, our archdiocesan visioning team at a recent meeting to review our implementation for the 10-year vision expressed the hope that the solemnity of Christ the King would not end our efforts to live in an intentional way the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Our attitude should not be: “Been there! Done that!” While the jubilee Year of Mercy may have come to its official conclusion, our commitment to be a people of mercy, a church of mercy, must remain.
It is the personal experience of God’s mercy that is at the heart of Christian discipleship. The sacrament of reconciliation affords an opportunity on a regular basis to encounter in a profound way Our Lord’s merciful love and to be transformed by it. As Pope Francis’ motto reminds us: Having been ourselves chosen with mercy, it is our privilege and responsibility to communicate [God’s] mercy to the world.