After a Jubilee Year filled with mercy, Bishop Richard J. Malone encouraged Catholics to continue practicing compassion and forgiveness during an evening prayer service Sunday at St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo.
"We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy," said Bishop Malone, quoting Pope Francis from his comments opening the Jubilee Year of Mercy in late 2015. "It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it."
The Year of Mercy was announced as a way for the universal Church to focus on forgiveness, as well as educate Catholics about the various corporal and spiritual works of mercy that they can incorporate into their own lives. Bishop Malone said the event was an invitation for Catholics to come to a new appreciation of the lavish gift of God's mercy and the need for it, and that they should look for every opportunity to extend, share and radiate divine mercy, especially to those in need.
"Mercy can mean many things as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy reminds us," Bishop Malone said in his homily. "It can mean warm hats and gloves for the winter. Mercy can mean a visit to a lonely senior, or a service trip to Guatemala. It can mean outreach to refugees, work for prison reform, food for the hungry ... the list goes on and on. One of the most significant and powerful acts of mercy you can perform is to lead others to an encounter with the Lord. Oh yes, we have to continue with all the other acts of mercy, that's for sure, but to lead people to the Lord and come to know his love."
Sunday's service not only concluded the Year of Mercy celebration in the Diocese of Buffalo, but also marked the closing of the designated Holy Door of Mercy at the cathedral. Several other parishes throughout the diocese also had designated Holy Doors of Mercy that were closed earlier in the week.
"This entire year, in a way, has been a Door of Mercy," Bishop Malone said. "Entering through it, the physical door in our cathedral and several places here, in Rome, and in Catholic places around the world, has offered the grace to all of us to experience in new ways the unconditional love of God, who ever consoles, pardons and installs hope."
God's mercy remains powerful within us, Bishop Malone explained.
"As the Holy Year closes, we recall that we have been given a new lens to look upon all else, to look upon God's creation, to look upon one another and upon ourselves."