Misericordia et Misera

Misericordia et Misera

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On Monday 21st November 2016, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera following the closure of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the Solemnity of Christ the King.  In the Letter, he outlines some of his reflections on the impact of the Jubilee Year and his hopes for its ongoing legacy in the Church.  While some specific aspects of it have been widely reported in the press, it is well worth reading in its entirety, in order to join the Holy Father in his hope that "the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open" long after the "Mercy Doors" have closed in Cathedrals and churches across the world.

To read the Apostolic Letter in full, click the title here: Misericordia et Misera.

Below are a few highlights from the document in which Pope Francis makes explicit reference to the life and ministry of priests:

In the liturgy, mercy is not only repeatedly implored, but is truly received and experienced. From the beginning to the end of the Eucharistic celebration, mercy constantly appears in the dialogue between the assembly at prayer and the heart of the Father, who rejoices to bestow his merciful love...  In a word, each moment of the Eucharistic celebration refers to God’s mercy. (par. 5)

I strongly encourage that great care be given to preparing the homily and to preaching in general. A priest’s preaching will be fruitful to the extent that he himself has experienced the merciful goodness of the Lord. Communicating the certainty that God loves us is not an exercise in rhetoric, but a condition for the credibility of one’s priesthood. (par. 6)

I greatly desire that God’s word be increasingly celebrated, known and disseminated, so that the mystery of love streaming from this font of mercy may be ever better understood... It would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. Creative initiatives can help make this an opportunity for the faithful to become living vessels for the transmission of God’s word. Initiatives of this sort would certainly include the practice of lectio divina, so that the prayerful reading of the sacred text will help support and strengthen the spiritual life. (par. 7)

I invite priests once more to prepare carefully for the ministry of confession, which is a true priestly mission. I thank all of you from the heart for your ministry, and I ask you to be welcoming to all, witnesses of fatherly love whatever the gravity of the sin involved, attentive in helping penitents to reflect on the evil they have done, clear in presenting moral principles, willing to walk patiently beside the faithful on their penitential journey, far-sighted in discerning individual cases and generous in dispensing God’s forgiveness. (par. 10)

We confessors have experienced many conversions that took place before our very eyes. We feel responsible, then, for actions and words that can touch the heart of penitents and enable them to discover the closeness and tenderness of the Father who forgives. Let us not lose such occasions by acting in a way that can contradict the experience of mercy that the penitent seeks... (par. 11)

The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness. A favourable occasion for this could be the 24 Hours for the Lord, a celebration held in proximity to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. (par. 11)

I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation. (par. 12)

In all religions, the moment of death, like that of birth, is accompanied by a religious presence. As Christians, we celebrate the funeral liturgy as a hope-filled prayer for the soul of the deceased and for the consolation of those who suffer the loss of a loved one. I am convinced that our faith-filled pastoral activity should lead to a direct experience of how the liturgical signs and our prayers are an expression of the Lord’s mercy.  It is the Lord himself who offers words of hope, since nothing and no one can ever separate us from his love (cf. Rom 8:35).  The priest’s sharing in this moment is an important form of pastoral care, for it represents the closeness of the Christian community at a moment of weakness, solitude, uncertainty and grief. (par. 15)

We are called to promote a culture of mercy based on the rediscovery of encounter with others, a culture in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters. The works of mercy are “handcrafted”, in the sense that none of them is alike. Our hands can craft them in a thousand different ways, and even though the one God inspires them, and they are all fashioned from the same “material”, mercy itself, each one takes on a different form. (par. 20)

I had the idea that, as yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year, the entire Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy. (par. 21)

As Pope Francis exhorts us: "Now is the time to unleash the creativity of mercy, to bring about new undertakings, the fruit of grace." (par. 18)  He makes no secret of the fact that he sees the ministry of priests as crucial to opening these gifts of God's mercy for God's people.  "This is the time of mercy."  May our reflections on the Jubilee Year now ended and on the mercy of God we experience, celebrate and share every day in priestly ministry renew us and open us to a new joy in service of the Church and of those whose lives we touch with the compassion, consolation and forgiveness of God.

yearofmercy2

 


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Vocations Awareness Week

Vocations Awareness Week

With 1 Comments, Category: Featured, Vocations, Vocations Campaigns,

Vocations Awareness Week

This has been held each year in September, as a way of inviting the whole Catholic community in Scotland to pray for and think about the importance of vocations to priesthood and religious life, and to encourage those considering a vocation to serve in the Church to come forward to reflect more intently on it.

In past years, material has been made available to parishes and secondary schools throughout the country. A Holy Hour and a short selection of prayer texts prepared for 2014's Vocations Awareness Week are available here. Teachers may wish to have a copy of the icon of Christ which features priests from throughout Scotland.  Contact the Priests for Scotland office.

Prayer cards associated with previous Vocations Awareness Week themes may still available from the Priests for Scotland office.


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To be a priest in Scotland

To be a priest in Scotland

With 0 Comments, Category: Featured, Vocations,

I am always struck by how tentative the process of discussing vocations can be.  Some people feel quite awkward, perhaps they are wary of committing themselves and unsure about what they are really feeling. I am equally struck by how much support and encouragement applicants for the priesthood can get from one another as they realise that they are not alone and can share their thoughts with like minded individuals. Perhaps an individual is not ready to share his thoughts with other applicants. Some enquirers derive more from a quiet informal chat with their parish priest or with their diocesan vocations director.

To be a priest in Scotland today is “a life worth living” and a path worth taking. So give it some quiet thought. It can be a challenging life but it can also be a very rewarding life where you are able to make a difference in the lives of others. The invitation to “make disciples of all the nations” is a command to each one of us. Are you thinking about becoming a priest? This site offers information and resources to help you in your process of discernment.

Please feel free to browse the site and contact the Priests for Scotland office or your local Diocesan Vocations Director if you would like more information or the opportunity to discuss the Lord's call.


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First Steps

First Steps

With 0 Comments, Category: Featured, Preparing for Seminary,

For most men who apply to become priests the attraction to ordained ministry will have been with them for some time. Perhaps they have been slow to reveal this thought to anyone else and have mulled it over quietly in their own mind...

 

So where do I start?  Well, the first step in exploring this feeling is to pray; listen to God’s Spirit in the depth of your heart.  There, in the quiet you will at the very least find the courage to take the next step.  You might, in fact, find a deeper sense of the call God has for you...

When you feel the time is right, you might wish to talk about your experience or your thoughts with your parish priest, or a priest you know, perhaps a spiritual director, or a chaplain you know from school, university or college.  They will guide you, help you talk out your thoughts - and perhaps your hesitations - and point you in the direction of your Diocesan Vocations Director (click for more).

The Diocesan Vocations Director will help you learn more about what a vocation to priesthood entails, how men are trained for diocesan priesthood, and will support you through a process of discerning just what is right for you, and how to proceed...

In some Dioceses, there may be opportunities offered to meet with like-minded men who are also thinking about priesthood as an option for them and discerning whether God might be calling them to serve him and the Church in this way.  Going along to these events or meetings doesn't mean you have to sign up, of course, but it can be a supportive way of exploring your thoughts and prayers with others going through the same process.
You may, of course, contact the Priest for Scotland office directly.


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Diocesan Vocations Directors

Diocesan Vocations Directors

With 0 Comments, Category: Discerning Priesthood, Featured, Preparing for Seminary, Vocations,

Each diocese in Scotland has a nominated priest whose role is to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood within each diocese.

In addition, the Diocesan Vocations Director is responsible for helping a potential candidate for priesthood discern their vocation, and, if both feel ready, when the time is right, to suggest that the candidate begin the formal process of application for studies for priesthood

Below are the contact details for the Diocesan Vocations Directors from around Scotland:

Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Rev. Michael John Galbraith
St James'
17 The Scores
ST ANDREWS
KY16 9AR
01334 472856

stjames.standrews@gmail.com

Diocese of Aberdeen

Rev. Keith Herrera
Cathedral Clergy House
20 Huntly Street
ABERDEEN
AB10 1SH
01224 640 160

administrator@cathedral-abdn.org

Diocese of Argyll and The Isles

Rev. Michael Hutson
St. Andrew's
Columshill Street
Rothesay
ISLE OF BUTE
PA20 0HX
01700 502 047

timeheldmegreenanddying@gmail.com

Diocese of Dunkeld

Father Michael Carrie
9 Muirnwood Place
Monifieth DD5 4JL
01382 539476

mailto:frmichaelcarrie@outlook.com       Dunkeld Vocations Website

Diocese of Galloway

Rev. William Boyd
St. Mary's
15 West Rd
IRVINE
KA12 8RE
01294 279 130

wh.boyd@btinternet.com

Archdiocese of Glasgow
Rev. Ross Campbell
Turnbull Hall
15 Southpark Terrace
Glasgow
G12 8LG
0141 339 4315

rrcchaplaincy@gla.ac.uk                  Archdiocese of Glasgow Vocations Facebook Page

Diocese of Motherwell

Rev. Brian Lamb
St Joseph's
Mayberry Place
Blantyre
South Lanarkshire
G72 9DA
01698 823896

info@sjblantyre.org                   Motherwell Diocesan Website Vocations Page

 

Diocese of Paisley
Rev. John H. Morrison
St. Patrick's
5 Orangefield Place
GREENOCK, UK PA15 1YX
118 Brediland Road
PAISLEY
PA2 0HE
01505 813103

johnmorrison1976@gmail.com            Read the Paisley Diocese Vocations Newsletter for 2016

 


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