Doors of Mercy and other devotions will be appearing in the Diocese of Little Rock beginning Dec. 8 to mark the Year of Mercy.
The extraordinary jubilee year will continue through Nov. 20, 2016.
“There is mercy and there is divine mercy. There’s God’s mercy and there is regular mercy,” said Father John Marconi, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Conway and Year of Mercy Committee chairman. “The legal term of mercy is showing forgiveness when someone doesn’t deserve forgiveness like in the court of law. … Divine mercy comes from God. Obviously through our sinfulness there are consequences. Jesus took upon punishment for our sins. There is divine mercy itself.”
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will open the year with Mass on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. The Cathedral will open its doors daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for people to visit and pray.
The Diocesan Year of Mercy Committee established the main Door of Mercy in Arkansas to be located at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock, Father Marconi said.
“As part of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father has asked that in every local church a Door of Mercy be opened for the duration of the holy year as a place of pilgrimage and spiritual renewal for the faithful,” the committee stated.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Church was chosen because of its location next to the House of Formation, for the presence of a perpetual adoration chapel and plenty of parking for pilgrims.
A Mass to mark the opening of the door will be held at 11 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 13 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Bishop Taylor will lead a procession into the church and to the specially created Door of Mercy near the adoration chapel. Pilgrims from around the state are invited to attend the Masses Dec. 8 and Dec. 13, Father Marconi said.
Special days of pilgrimage also will be held on the first Saturdays of each month, starting in February.
“There will be a special schedule at Good Counsel for hosting pilgrims on first Saturdays,” the committee stated. “The church and Door of Mercy will open at 9 a.m. Confessors will be available beginning at 10 a.m. A special Mass of Mercy will be offered at noon, and the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3 p.m. The liturgical celebrations will be held in the main church, as an opportunity for individuals and groups to prepare for entering the Door of Mercy. The Door of Mercy itself will lead into the adoration chapel, which will be maintained as a quiet, reflective place of prayer.”
On first Saturdays, the House of Formation will be open for tours and seminarians will serve as “ambassadors of mercy” to give presentations on the Year of Mercy. They will also assist pilgrims with questions.
“The House of Formation chapel will be available as an additional place of prayer, especially to pray for continuing vocations,” the committee stated.
Bilingual communal reconciliation services will be held in each deanery of the diocese throughout the year.
Special “missionaries of mercy” have been chosen by the Vatican. These priests will preach and teach about God’s mercy and be given special authority “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Father Marconi said he would like to invite at least one of those priests to the diocese to offer a retreat or day of reflection.
Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5, before the fourth Sunday of Lent, are a time Pope Francis has asked parishes to host 24 hours of adoration and reconciliation. Father Marconi said each pastor will decide how they want to observe those hours.
“We are uniting ourselves with Rome and we are uniting ourselves with all Catholics around the world,” Father Marconi said. “Priests will make themselves available for confession … The sacrament of reconciliation is the most encouraged thing during the Year of Mercy.”
The year will close on the solemnity of Christ the King at 12:05 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20 with Mass at the Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Taylor.
The diocesan committee is led by Father John Marconi, Father Josh Stengel and Father Jack Vu.
Father Marconi said he hopes Catholics will spend the year reflecting on God’s mercy and how they can be merciful like God.
“All of us are called to be missionaries of mercy, all of us are called to be ambassadors of mercy,” he said.
For more information about the Year of Mercy, visit im.va.
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