Year of Mercy
December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016
Misericordes Sicut Pater
Merciful Like the Father
“Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy…The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.”
~ Pope Francis, December 8, 2015
“‘Mercy’ is more than having compassion; it means we enter freely into the other person’s chaos or suffering. We feel the other’s pain, see through their eyes, and place ourselves inside the person’s heart and mind. When that happens, we are moved to respond in a merciful way.”
~ Bishop Gary Gordon
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a major event in the Catholic Church, held from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2015 to the Feast of Christ the King in 2016. Like other previous jubilees, this is a special, holy year of remission of sins and universal pardon, in this occasion focusing particularly on God’s forgiveness and mercy.
It is an extraordinary Jubilee because it had not been predetermined long before; usually ordinary jubilees take place every 25 years. In fact, the 2016 Jubilee was first announced by Pope Francis on March 13, 2015. It is the 27th Holy Year in history, following the ordinary 2000 Jubilee during John Paul II papacy. The opening day was also the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.
In prior months it was stressed that the Pontiff wishes the Jubilee to be celebrated not only in Rome but all around the world: for the first time holy doors are going to be open in single dioceses, either in the main cathedral or in local historical churches. Pope Francis opened the first holy door in Bangui on November 29, 2015, during a tour in Africa.
The official logo, designed by Father Marko I. Rupnik, shows Jesus, personification of Mercy, carrying on his shoulders a ‘lost man’, emphasizing how deep the Savior touches humanity; His eyes are merged with those of the carried man. The background is filled by three concentric ovals, with lighter colors outwards, meaning that Jesus is carrying the man out of the darkness of sin. On one side the image is also joined by the official motto: Misericordes Sicut Pater (Merciful Like the Father), derivative from Luke 6:36, which stands as an invitation to follow the example of the Father by loving and forgiving without limits.
The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography, for it calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human. The three concentric ovals, with colors progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker color suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all.
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