"Big Four" Highlights


Comforts and Joys

A user’s guide for the Year of Mercy

By Jason Godin

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy begins December 8, 2015, with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a period anticipated for all to recall in personal ways the need for mercy in the face of their sins. It is also a time intended, in the words of Pope Francis, for “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.”

Hoping to help as many people as possible encounter the Merciful Father, who is rich in mercy, Fathers for Good has prepared this basic “user’s guide” for the year ahead. The following are links to online sources and affordable print publications worth sharing with your family, parish community, and anyone interested in learning more about the Year of Mercy.

From the Vatican

Jubilee of Mercy: Merciful Like the Father – The official website for the Year of Mercy. It is administered by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and contains news updates, event calendars, as well as pastoral resources translated into several languages.

Watch a one-minute video statement on the Year of Mercy featuring Father Geno Sylva, a New Jersey priest who is working on New Evangelization at the Vatican.

Holy Father’s Jubilee Indulgence Letter – Like the number of peoples it is intended for, there are many ways to obtain the Jubilee Indulgence, as Pope Francis outlines:

  • The faithful: “[M]ake 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” or “in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches.”
  • The ill and elderly: “Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication.”
  • The incarcerated: In the prison chapel. “May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door,” adds Pope Francis, “because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”
  • The deceased: Those in Purgatory can benefit from the indulgence when the living remember them at Mass and pray “that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.”
  • Each time one personally performs one or more of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy.


Similar to other indulgences, the Holy Father stressed in his letter the importance of moments of merciful encounter “be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy” along with “the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.”

From Publishers
A Year of Mercy with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections (Our Sunday Visitor), edited by Kevin Cotter.

A Year of Mercy: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis (Franciscan Media), edited by Diane M. Houdek.

Pope Francis: The Year of Mercy (Rizzoli), edited by Vincenzo Sansonetti.

The Magnificat Advent Companion (Magnificat Inc.), edited by Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., from the people who bring you the monthly Magnificat daily Mass booklet, this pocket-size volume has short meditations for every day of Advent.

Jason Godin is managing editor of Fathers for Good