Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1661--1669. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese of Boston announced April 1 that Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley is publishing a pastoral letter to guide the faithful during this Year of Mercy. The letter, "God's Mercy Runs to Meet Us," is dated April 3 to coincide with Divine Mercy Sunday. The Cardinal opens his letter with the words: "Jesus is the face of the Father's mercy and love."
Conscious of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, December 8, 2015 -- November 20, 2016, which Pope Francis called for, the letter "will explain how we can put into practice a life of mercy and forgiveness and the many opportunities during this Jubilee to grow in joy and become 'Merciful Like the Father'," writes Cardinal O'Malley.
That explanation is offered throughout the letter, woven in-between background on previous Jubilee Years, Pope Francis statements on mercy and descriptions of Jesus' own works of mercy. The letter becomes more concrete near the end, as Cardinal O'Malley lists seven actions that members of the Catholic community should undertake during the Jubilee Year.
"In doing these activities, you will grow closer to our Heavenly Father and become one of his missionaries of mercy to a world in such need for it. Mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel. God's mercy has always and will continue to transform the world," writes the cardinal.
Divided into four main parts, the pastoral letter is a guide for Catholics and explains "how we can put into practice a life of mercy and forgiveness and the many opportunities during this Jubilee to grow in joy and become 'Merciful Like the Father'" as communicated by Pope Francis when he announced a Year of Mercy for the Church.
The four main parts include an introduction, a discussion on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and a description of "The Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Boston."
Cardinal Seán writes, "By practicing mercy, Pope Francis believes we can rediscover the mission of the Church" and "Pope Francis wants each of us to experience God's mercy in a profound way as we receive it and then share it."
In speaking to a rediscovering of mercy the Cardinal adds "When we see with the eyes of mercy, we open the doors of our hearts. We can no longer be indifferent and focused only on our own challenges. We open doors and serve others who desire to encounter God's mercy."
In his concluding text the Cardinal writes that, "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. May God grant us the grace and strength to become merciful like the Father, whose heart is filled with love for us and for all those most in need of his mercy."
You can read the complete text at www.cardinalseansblog.org/yearofmercy/