By Corine Erlandson
WARSAW — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades encouraged local Catholic business leaders “to really take seriously this Jubilee Year of Mercy.” He quoted Pope Francis who called mercy “the beating heart of the Gospel.”
On Dec. 16, Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass for the chapters of Legatus in Fort Wayne and South Bend-Elkhart. Legatus is an international organization of Catholic CEOs and their spouses committed to studying, living and spreading the Catholic faith. The members of both chapters of Legatus met at Sacred Heart Parish in Warsaw.
After the Advent weekday Mass, Bishop Rhoades, Father Terry Coonan, chaplain for the South Bend-Elkhart chapter, and Legatus members gathered for a festive dinner. The dinner was followed by a talk by Bishop Rhoades who spoke on the Jubilee Year of Mercy that began on Dec. 8.
Bishop Rhoades told the Legatus members that the Vatican document on the Year of Mercy begins by saying that Jesus is the face of God’s mercy. “We really need to take this Jubilee Year of Mercy seriously,” said Bishop Rhoades. He quoted Pope Francis’ words that the world needs the joy of the Gospel. Bishop Rhoades said that being a Catholic is less acceptable in the culture today. “But we can’t be sourpusses,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We cannot live Lent all year long without celebrating the joy of Easter.”
Bishop Rhoades advised the Legatus members to not rush out and become activists first for the Year of Mercy; he recommended prayer and contemplation first. “It has to begin with prayer to experience the depths of God’s mercy,” Bishop Rhoades said.
Bishop Rhoades recommended reading books recently published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing for the Year of Mercy, including the Psalms of mercy and the parables of mercy. “Savor and read the psalms and parables of mercy slowly,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Listen to them in a deep way to experience the depths of God’s mercy.”
Bishop Rhoades told the Legatus members to try to not limit their concept of mercy. “Don’t limit your understanding of mercy to forgiveness only. Mercy includes forgiveness, but mercy is even broader,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Mercy — God’s loving kindness — is a very rich concept.” Bishop Rhoades said that once we have prayed about and contemplated Divine Mercy, then we can tackle the corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and visiting the prisoner. “We have to take Jesus’ words about this seriously,” Bishop Rhoades said.
In his homily at Mass, Bishop Rhoades quoted Pope Francis. “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.”
Bishop Rhoades said he is encouraging the priests in the diocese to make mercy in the sacrament of Reconciliation more readily available to parishioners.
Bishop Rhoades told the Legatus members, “Try to be open to this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Try to live it out during this Jubilee Year. It will bear much fruit.” At the end of his talk, the two chapters of Legatus joined to present Bishop Rhoades with a check for $1,000 for his favorite charity.
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