During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the global and local Church will be providing many opportunities to experience, explore and extend mercy. As part of the Jubilee, the two of us will be working on a series of articles for the Western New York Catholic consisting of anonymous interviews with people whose situation in life is a reminder of the greatness of God's mercy and our need to be merciful.
We have chosen to call this series "The Faces of Mercy." This title was the first one that came to Father Ryszard when he was considering this series. We later realized that his spontaneous title choice is well-aligned with the Holy Father's perspective on this Jubilee Year. When Pope Francis presented the official Bull of Induction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, he titled it "Misericordiae Vultus," or "The Face of Mercy." This document begins with the following words: "Jesus is the face of the Father's mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith."
Just as we view the Father's mercy through the face of Jesus, we can also see God's mercy through the faces of our fellow men and women. Later in "Misericordiae Vultus," Pope Francis speaks about how this Jubilee Year can influence our perspective on our fellow human beings:
"In this Holy Year, we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society. How many uncertain and painful situations there are in the world today. During this Jubilee, the Church will be called even more to heal these wounds, to assuage them with the oil of consolation, to bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care. Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help."
It is our hope that this series will offer a window into some of these "uncertain and painful situations" that the Holy Father references. Hopefully these articles will remind us all of the need for prayer and inspire us to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as Pope Francis has strongly encouraged especially during this Jubilee Year.
If you have any suggestions for a future profile or know of someone who would be willing to be interviewed for this series, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We look forward to conducting these interviews and welcome your input. We would like to share St. Augustine's Prayer to Our Lady of Mercy as we ask her to help us as we embark upon this Jubilee Year of Mercy:
Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent? Receive our gratitude and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of heaven and enable them to make our peace with God.
Holy Mary, help the miserable, strengthen the discouraged, comfort the sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God. May all who venerate you feel now your help and protection. Be ready to help us when we pray and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it your continual concern to pray for the people of God, for you were blessed by God and were made worthy to bear the Redeemer of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.
Father Ryszard Biernat is secretary to Bishop Richard J. Malone. Siobhan M. O'Connor is executive assistant to Bishop Malone.