The Carmelite Family in Britain is preparing, along with the rest of the Catholic Church, to celebrate a Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning on 8th December 2015.
At the invitation of Pope Francis, followers of Jesus around the world will reflect on mercy as a central concept in the Christian faith. Announcing the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee — a special time in the life of the Church — “which has as its centre the mercy of God ... We want to live in the life of the word of the Lord: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (cf. Luke 6:36).”
Pope Francis sees the Year of Mercy as “a new step on the Church’s journey in her mission to bring the Gospel of mercy to each person,” stating “I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness.”
Carmelites in Britain will undertake a number of initiatives to mark the Jubilee over the coming months, including the opening of two Holy Doors, both in Kent: one at the Shrine of Our Lady and Saint Simon Stock at Aylesford Priory; and the other at the National Shrine of Saint Jude at Faversham.
One of the common features of a Jubilee Year in the Catholic Church is to designate a number of ‘Holy Doors.’ These Holy Doors are normally in significant places of worship, such as cathedrals and pilgrimage sites. By coming on pilgrimage to these places, Christians are better able to reflect on the theme of the Jubilee, and receive a Jubilee Indulgence.
At Faversham the Holy Door will be opened by the Carmelite Prior Provincial on Sunday 13th December. Details for the Holy Door at Aylesford will be published in due course.
At Aylesford the 2016 retreat programme will include reflections on the theme of Mercy. Mercy will also feature in some of the ethnic pilgrimages, and at the Divine Mercy pilgrimages on 2nd April and 29th August. The Archdiocese of Southwark’s Youth Service and Christian Formation Disabilities Team will also be using the theme of Mercy in their various workshops and events.
Carmelites from Britain will also be taking part in pilgrimages to Rome for the Jubilee Year, and taking part in the special events reflecting on Mercy in the life of the Church.
The official Hymn for the Jubilee Year has been written by English composer Paul Inwood, who every summer joins the Catholic Association pilgrimage to Lourdes in which the Carmelites are partners.
The Carmelite Family joins with Pope Francis in praying: “Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.”
You can find out more about the Year of Faith by visiting the special section of The British Province of Carmelites website.