This is the biggest activity packet we’ve ever tackled, not because of the amount of paper we’re giving you, but because this topic will be ongoing for the entire year! We’ve included a few things to get you started right away, but the plan is to give updates for the next 11 months as we hear about relevant events, invent some new ideas, read others’ ideas, and remind you of things that are already in progress.
Besides this packet, we’ll be blogging and emailing things noted with this logo (just above), and we’ll be giving regular reminders and enrichment ideas in a series of Mercy Milestone Meter posts.
You can ignore the Year of Mercy, or fully embrace it, or anywhere in between, but here are a few reasons why we hope your family will be more on the “embrace” end of that scale:
Top Ten Reasons For Your Family To Celebrate The Year Of Mercy
- The Pope said so. “At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective.” (#3)
- Which brings us to the second reason: Evangelization. Pope Francis is enormously popular with almost everyone, Catholic or not. People listen to what he has to say, and that leads in to all sorts of opportunities to talk to others about what it really means to be Catholic and what it means to love Jesus. Expect the Holy Spirit to put those opportunities in your path this year!
- Grace. This year has been called “an extraordinary time of grace.” (#5) It would be a sadly lost opportunity to not open that gift! “To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption, so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere. Let us live this Jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful ‘indulgence.’” (#22)
- Extend God’s mercy. “The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.” (#10) “It [reflecting on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy] will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.” (#15)
- God wants you to live joyfully! This Jubilee offers special opportunities to throw off habits of anger and claim the blessings of mercy that Jesus promised! You know you need healing and forgiveness for something; let God do that work in your life this year! (#9)
- Confession, because your soul is begging for it! If getting to confession just a little more often has been one of those things you think you should get to some day, THIS is that day! “Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.” (#17)
- Building Catholic culture in your home. While God’s mercy is lavishly extended to every single person, actually declaring a year to focus on it is a distinctly Catholic thing to do. Celebrate your Catholic identity by making this celebration a deliberate part of your family life this year!
- Field trips, vacations, excursions, staycations- whatever you want to call them, this year we’re re-focusing on the Faith and re-labeling these outings as “Pilgrimages”. There are pilgrimage sites all over the place and “since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, [it often happens that while there] people discover a path to conversion.” (#3) Whether you focus your entire vacation on visiting a site or simply make it a stop on the way, a pilgrimage is a wonderful way to combine prayer, family, and fun.
- Mystery! Step back from the ways you take your relationship with God for granted and spend some time this year contemplating the mystery of His love and forgiveness. “The profundity of the mystery surrounding [God’s mercy] is as inexhaustible as the richness which springs up from it.” (#25) “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it.” (#2)
- God wants to surprise you! (#25) He has lots of work to do in and through you, and the Father is inviting you to spend time this year “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which [He] constantly extends to all of us.” Trust Him!