The Year of Mercy ends but Mercy endures!

“It’s no use going back to yesterday,” wrote Lewis Carroll 150 years ago in Alice in Wonderland, “because I was a different person then.”

As the Church’s season of Advent approaches, it’s almost twelve months since the Year of Mercy, inaugurated by Pope Francis as an opportunity to contemplate the face of mercy in order that we will be merciful like God, began.

In the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle it commenced with Bishop Bill opening Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Door of Mercy. The Year of Mercy has coincided with the 150th year since Bishop James Murray arrived at Morpeth, travelled to Maitland and claimed St John’s Church as his cathedral, so a number of events have been mercy-flavoured evocations of the past and hope for the future.

While Mercy endures, the Year of Mercy draws to a close in line with the wish of Pope Francis. This will be marked by an ‘Open House’ and closing liturgy on Sunday 20 November at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newcastle West, to which all are welcome

The real challenge of the Year of Mercy is for individuals and communities to continue to live as people of Mercy. After all, Mercy knows no bounds of denomination, tradition or time.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said that the time of Christendom is over, and the Catholic Church must recognise its real credential is in Mercy. Calling for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy to be enacted as a verb, Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope’s vision gives birth to action within the Church and across the global community.  

Participants in the ‘Open House’ and closing liturgy are invited to journey to the cathedral to walk through the doors of mercy for the last time. They are also invited to ‘bring a plate’ for afternoon tea and to bring a gift for the poor to be distributed through the St Vincent de Paul Christmas appeal.

There will be opportunities to enjoy conversation with others, receive the sacrament of penance and enjoy some live entertainment.

As Pope Francis says, “Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement. By the dignity it brings, mercy raises up the one over whom another has stooped to bring help. The one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equals.”

It may be helpful for any one of us to ask, at intervals, ‘Am I a different person from the one I was yesterday? Last week? Last year?’ Whether you are a person of faith or not, Mercy always has currency.

Please gather in the cathedral at 3.45pm. For more details, visit our news site.

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Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.

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