Year of Mercy Pastoral Letter October

Has your heart broken this year?1430808482743
It’s not too late…

In the past year, one of my responsibilities was to communicate through the parish’s media (Facebook/ Twitter/Bulletin/etc.) messages about the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. This year-long celebration began on November 29, 2015 and will end on November 20, 2016, just a few weeks from now.

When Pope Francis introduced the Year of Mercy, it was meant to renew the Church in our call to be witnesses of mercy in all we do. On the part of the Church’s leaders, extraordinary steps were taken to bridge divides that have separated longstanding schisms in the Church, a compassionate papal encyclical on love and marriage was issued, the Holy Doors of the Church were opened, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation was strongly encouraged. In a most ardent way, the Pope encouraged the faithful to act out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which we at Saint Andrews have actively reminded people to do every week.

And with only one month left, I’m concerned that so much of this year only left us with a cadre of superficial measurables. For it is possible to consume the messages of the Year of Mercy, to “like” a Facebook post, or even to perform an act of charity, without any substantial change. Therein lies the rub. It’s hard for me to imagine any action ever being truly “merciful” if it is sterilized by the rigidity of an unchanged heart.

So we tossed an extra dollar towards the homeless, but did we empathize with the fragility of the human condition that separates the rich and poor through a set of thinly-held and unjust circumstances? So we shared in prolonged trauma while fearing the countless shootings that plagued our city, but did we mourn with the mothers and fathers who lost their sons and daughters? Maybe you sat in utter shock over the bombing of a nightclub in Orlando this summer and hopefully you grabbed your loved one and thanked God for your own safety. But did we allow ourselves to mourn for a world that marginalizes people because of their sexual orientation? We may have condemned extremism, but did we lament that extremism is the fruit of poverty, insecurity, hopelessness, intolerance, racism, sexism, and so on, and so on?

Personally, I have found my heart shattered this past year, and it began with the death of my Godmother. The event served as a catalyst which led me to comb my heart and discover a multitude of losses which I had previously ignored. In that grief, I became aware of so many other injuries and so many personal failures, that to my surprise, I was led to the Sacrament of Confession. In that grace, I was able to recognize that my heart was broken and in the tenderness of a broken heart, God’s mercy could freely pour over me.

I wish you no adversity and no pain, but my advocacy to you in the remaining month of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is to not let it pass without enjoying its benefit. Of course I encourage the external signs of mercy. Say you’re sorry. Give to the poor. Visit the sick. Make amends with an old grudge. Go to confession (Saturday at 3:00pm or by appointment with one of our priests).

But beyond the external signs, I would strongly urge you to enter into the special grace that is flowing from and through the Church this year. Let your heart be touched by mercy. When you do, it may feel like your heart has shattered into a thousand pieces, but those fragments will become the building blocks through which God rebuilds you, more beautiful and radiant than before.

May your heart both be broken and healed by the mercy you do and the mercy you receive through the loving embrace of God.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

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