I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that many of you dear readers are either: Catholic and/or mamas. If you happen to be BOTH of those things, this one's for you!
Y'all have heard of the Year of Mercy, right? Right. It began on December 8th, 2015 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and will conclude on November 20, 2016 (the Feast of Christ the King).
What is a jubilee year (or holy year), you ask? Thankfully, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website has summarized a helpful response to that very question:
"The practice of a jubilee year has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and evidence for it can be found in the Old Testament (for example, see Leviticus 25). The jubilee year was called every fifty years and was a time for forgiveness. It stood as a reminder of God's providence and mercy. The dedication of a year for this emphasis provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God. As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, these themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity continued." (Source.)
In the Catholic Church we have a jubilee year every 25 years, but this Year of Mercy is set apart from this ordinary cycle of jubilees - making it an Extraordinary Jubilee. In other words, this holy Year of Mercy is pretty exceptional in the history of the Church, no?
So, what can we do to make the most of this Year of Mercy?
Well, lots of things! But I think it's always good to start with something tangible and simple. And if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, I would recommend you begin (or continue - because I know some of you have already thought about this a lot) by checking out the "Faces of Mercy" Catholic Conference 4 Moms (CC4M).
The CC4M is an ONLINE video conference that you can attend from the comfort of your own home! OR you can experience and participate in the conference alongside some of your sisters in Christ in a group setting in someone else's home or at your local parish. It's a conference that can be done individually or within a group setting, which gives us busy moms something that is music to my ears: flexible, convenient, personalized options.
The beauty of this conference is that it's available online throughout all of Lent, beginning on February 20th (tomorrow!). This means that you can conveniently watch the videos or reflect on the discussion questions whenever it suits your schedule.
There are a couple components of the conference that will be live-streamed tomorrow (Saturday, February 20). If you don't know of any parishes or groups hosting the conference in your area, you can still "attend" these components alongside thousands of other moms by tuning in for a presentation by Jennifer Fulwiler at 10:30 EST and praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 EST.
If you would prefer to use this conference as an opportunity to connect with other Catholic moms in your area, please consider hosting it at your parish or in your home! Along with 3 other moms I'm helping to lead a local conference tomorrow at a nearby parish - and I can honestly say that all of the planning has been SO EASY. All of the materials (including marketing images, pre-written bulletin announcements, helpful suggestions, discussion questions, and more) are easily accessible if/when you decide to host.
Motherhood offers us endless opportunities to grow in mercy, so what better way is there to dive into this holy Year of Mercy than to learn, reflect, and pray alongside other mothers as we all strive to grow in holiness and mercy?
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Jubilee Year of Mercy (USCCB)
- Jubilee Year of Mercy (USCCB)
- Pope Francis' Year of Mercy (Dynamic Catholic)
- The Hidden Meanings of the Year of Mercy Logo, Explained in One Infographic (ChurchPOP)
- Explaining the Holy Doors (Denver Catholic)
"God's mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14). ... Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish."
-Pope Francis, Easter Urbi et Orbi message on March 31, 2013