Rejoice during the Year of Mercy Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

This past Sunday — Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday — provided plenty of reason for rejoicing.

In addition to our celebration of the rapidly approaching Feast of Christmas (which celebrates not only the Incarnation of the Lord, but also our hope in the Second Coming) we marked, in a particular way, the beginning of the Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Madison.

Opening the Holy Doors

On this past Sunday we opened the Holy Doors, which are present at the two sites of the Cathedral Parish (St. Patrick Church and Holy Redeemer Church) and at the Schoenstatt Founder Shrine.

As I mentioned in my letter for the opening of the Year of Mercy, these doors should be a place of pilgrimage for us and they bear with them a plenary indulgence granted by Pope Francis.

It should be noted, however, that the indulgence does not simply come upon passing through the doors. There is spiritual conversion that is to be done. You need to grow in freedom from the attachment to sin.

A primary symbol of this Year of Mercy is the entrance through the Holy Doors. So, I encourage you to take the time and consider making several pilgrimages through one of the Holy Doors of Mercy.

In the second reading of this past Sunday (Phil 4:4-7) we have that wonderful admonition from the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always! Rejoice!”

Now, if you look around the world with all the violence, and at the collapse of the culture in our own country, and at the war against the Natural Law, against the law of human reason, which is being waged, there’s reason not to rejoice.

But St. Paul says to rejoice anyway — “Rejoice in the Lord always!” Nothing is so big that it can conquer the joy of Christ. Nothing.

Keeping Christ in the forefront

This Year of Mercy could also be called the “Big Picture Year,” where we keep the big picture in mind — Jesus Christ is still risen from the dead!

We have our victory in Him! There is no possibility of final defeat. So, rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord always!

St. Paul then says let your “kindness” be known to all. The word that is translated as “kindness” means, in fact, much more than that. I could spend some serious time discussing what that Greek word means. It is hard to translate, but it certainly cannot be simply translated “kindness.”

It includes kindness, but many other things. But Paul says to rejoice and to, “let your ‘kindness’ be known to all.” That something that is translated “kindness,” could just as well be translated “mercy.”

The meaning of mercy

Mercy, according to this word used by St. Paul, means two things. It means forbearance and it means patience.

Forbearance means that when I am dealing with people, I give them the benefit of the doubt to begin with.

St. Ignatius Loyola said that offering the benefit of the doubt is key to living a serene spiritual life. When you are dealing with other people, give them the benefit of the doubt unless they provide you with hard evidence that they don’t deserve it.

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Be forbearing and then be patient.

Give them the benefit of the doubt and be patient. Is that how we approach people? Do we give them the benefit of the doubt and are we patient with them?

Forebearing and patient

The Year of Mercy is about changing into someone who is forbearing and patient. And simply by living that out, we are making it known to all.

Forbearance (giving the benefit of the doubt) and patience must be more and more our habitual attitudes in dealing with people.

And that attitude of mercy, if you really practice it in dealing with others, will be a great reward for you, because you will be more patient with yourself. And that is important, too.

The more patient you are with others, the more patient you will be with yourself, and vice versa.

Give the benefit of the doubt, be patient. Forbearance: that is what mercy is all about, changing our behavior, but more importantly, changing who we are in the presence of our brothers and sisters.

What if the benefit of the doubt were always given in families? By spouses to each other? By sons and daughters (especially teenagers) to their parents? By parents to their children?

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

May God bless you and yours as we come quickly upon Christmas.

Praised be Jesus Christ!