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Logo Jubilé extraordinaire de la Miséricorde
Logo Jubilé extraordinaire de la Miséricorde
“Merciful like the Father”
(Lk 6:36)

Pastoral theme 2016

“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness”. (Pope Francis, “Misericordiae vultus”, §2) 

With these words the Holy Father invites us to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will start with the opening of the Holy Door in Rome, in Cathedrals and Sanctuaries throughout the world from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016.
    
By decree of Bishop Brouwet, the Sanctuary of Lourdes will echo this invitation of Pope Francis. It is with great joy that he offers us these reflections on the subject of Mercy to help all pilgrims to experience this Jubilee Year in the presence of Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Mercy, and Bernadette, a witness to the mercy of God. 


I – What is mercy?

In everyday language mercy is a sentiment that inspires a certain attitude and consequent actions. The dictionary gives us the following definition: “it is the sentiment by which the misery of someone else touches our heart”. It concerns, in effect, a heart that is responsive to any situation of misery experienced by our neighbour. 
Compassion is a way of expressing mercy; it is to empathize with those who suffer, even if we cannot completely take the place of the one who is suffering.
However mercy is also accomplished with regard to one who is not suffering but causes pain to others. In this case, it is not a sentiment, but an act of our will, which consists in forgiving.
So when we speak of mercy we refer both to the feeling of compassion for one who is in pain, and also to a voluntary act of forgiveness and erasure of the wrong he has committed.

http://en.lourdes-france.org/sites/all/themes/lourdes/images/modele/article/accolade.gif); zoom: 1; color: rgb(72, 72, 72); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; font-style: normal; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; background-position: 15px 50%;">God isMercy

If God is merciful it follows that mercy is a gift. 

Gift of the Father: because He gives us his only Son, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son… (Jn 3:16). God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved” ... (Jn 3:17).

Gift of the Son: because he gives Himself to us to show the Father’s mercy, “The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me ; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father” (Jn 10:17).

Gift of the Holy Spirit: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour” (Lk 4:18-19).

“With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of divine love in its fullness. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8, 16), John affirms for the first and only time in all of Holy Scripture. This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously. The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable. The signs he works, especially in favour of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy. Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion.” (Pope Francis, “Misericordiae vultus”, § 8)

http://en.lourdes-france.org/sites/all/themes/lourdes/images/modele/article/accolade.gif); zoom: 1; color: rgb(72, 72, 72); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; font-style: normal; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; background-position: 15px 50%;">The Church, sacrament of the mercy of Christ.

“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love. The Church ‘has an endless desire to show mercy’. Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy. The temptation, on the one hand, to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable, step. But the Church needs to go beyond and strive for a higher and more important goal. On the other hand, sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. In some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope”. (Pope Francis,   “Misericordiae Vultus”, § 10)

“The language and the gestures of the Church must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident… wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy”. (Pope Francis, “Misericordiae Vultus”, § 12).

http://en.lourdes-france.org/sites/all/themes/lourdes/images/modele/article/accolade.gif); zoom: 1; color: rgb(72, 72, 72); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; font-style: normal; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; background-position: 15px 50%;">Mercy creates brotherhood: “the works of mercy”