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What is the Year of Mercy?

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is a remarkable occasion during which the entire Catholic Church, under the humble leadership of Pope Francis, opens wide the doors to the saving mercy of Christ. The Year of Mercy is celebrated from December 8th, 2015—the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II— to the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016.

During this special period of time in the Church, Pope Francis calls all Catholics to be profound witnesses to mercy and to "find the joy 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." To learn more, visit the Vatican's official Year of Mercy website, or read a summary of the Papal Bull in which the Holy Father announced the Extraordinary Jubilee Year.

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What is a Jubilee Year?

In the year 1300, Pope Boniface XIII called the very first Jubilee. Drawing from early Christian and Jewish traditions and understandings of Jubilee, the Jubilee was celebrated as a special time of joy and pardon. It is a year that emphasizes the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sacrament vital for the forgiveness of sins. The special graces that we can receive this Jubilee are the same ones the faithful could receive over 700 years ago. Read more about the history of a Holy Year.

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Has this ever happened before?

Jubilee years have traditionally been called every 25 to 50 years. The most recent one was called by Pope St. John Paul II in the year 2000. Throughout Church history there have been 26 ordinary Jubilees and only 3 extraordinary Jubilees. Pope Francis has specifically titled this year's Extraordinary Jubilee as the Year of Mercy. Although past Jubilees have not been designated as the Year of Mercy, all Jubilees place emphasis on pardoning and forgiving others—an important facet 
of mercy.

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What are the plenary indulgences associated with the Year of Mercy?

Like all past Jubilees in the Church, the Year of Mercy features a very special plenary indulgence—the complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. In celebration of this Extraordinary Jubilee, Pope Francis is making the indulgence as widely available as possible.

"To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion." -Pope Francis

To receive the Jubilee Year indulgence, you must fulfill the usual conditions, and perform the act of indulgence: passing through a designated Holy Door during the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, or performing one of the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy. Read more about the conditions for the gaining of an indulgence.

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What can I do to make the most of the Year of Mercy?

The particular ways one can celebrate this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy are up to one's own discernment. To that end, we've prepared a helpful (but not comprehensive) list of ideas to get you started!

  • Go to Confession regularly — monthly or even weekly.
  • Forgive those who are in need of your mercy.
  • Fulfill the conditions for plenary indulgences and consider offering those indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
  • Go on a pilgrimage.
  • Practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy every day.
  • Place the Divine Mercy Image in a prominent place in your home and venerate it daily. Click here to get an image for your home.
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily, imploring mercy "on us, and on the whole world."
  • Make the Stations of the Cross regularly, especially at 3 p.m., the Hour of Great Mercy.
  • Pray Pope Francis's Year of Mercy Prayer.
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What are the Corporal Works of mercy?

Pope Francis has asked us to rediscover the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Throughout the Gospels Jesus admonishes us to follow his example, an example that sets down tangible ways we might better serve our brothers and sisters in need. As its name implies, the Corporal Works are directed toward serving the body: corpus, in Latin, means “body."

THERE ARE SEVEN CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY

  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the homeless
  5. Visit the sick
  6. Visit the imprisoned
  7. Bury the dead

This Jubilee we should make a concerted effort to perform these beautiful Works of Mercy.

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What are the Spiritual Works of Mercy?

While the Corporal Works of Mercy focus more on the needs of the body, the Spiritual Works focus on the needs of the soul. Just as we should help others with their physical needs, so too must we help them with their spiritual needs.

THERE ARE SEVEN SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY

  1. Admonish the sinner
  2. Instruct the ignorant
  3. Counsel the doubtful
  4. Bear wrongs patiently
  5. Forgive offenses willingly
  6. Comfort the afflicted
  7. Pray for the living and the dead