Mariam Schmitz
Freelance Writer
November 15, 2016 // Local

Mass marks close of the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Mariam Schmitz
Freelance Writer

By Mariam Schmitz

Photos by Mollie Schutt

As the closing Mass for the Jubilee Year of Mercy was about to begin at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne,  on Saturday, Nov. 12, the setting sun shone its light through the ornate stained glass windows and the ultimate symbol of God’s love and mercy — the crucifix — seemed to be highlighted all the more. The choir began to sing the hymn for the Year of Mercy, “Misericordes sicut Pater” or “Merciful, Like the Father,” and the procession began with incense filling the air. A crowd of hundreds joined the choir in praise and thanksgiving.

With the Mass, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend joined dioceses around the world in ending the jubilee year. On Sunday, Nov. 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the liturgical year, Pope Francis will close the Holy Doors of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome and the Year of Mercy will officially conclude.

In the Gospel reading for the closing Mass, Jesus told a crowd the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. Upon hearing these words the crowd was shocked, and Jesus told them to look for three signs indicating the time had come: human disasters, natural disasters and persecution. However, He also told them to endure and persevere through these trials and they would be protected.

In his homily, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said one need to only study history to see that these things have occurred and continue to occur. The Roman army conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and destroyed the temple. Disasters like war, earthquakes and epidemics are scattered throughout history. The persecution of the Church started in the Acts of the Apostles and continues today, especially through terrorist groups like ISIS.

Bishop Rhoades told the faithful in attendance to not be deceived by false prophets who claim to know when the world will end. He then reminded those gathered of the promise mentioned in the reading and woven throughout the Gospels.

“Another thing Jesus tells us is not to be terrified by the calamities he speaks about. How often Our Lord says in the Gospels not to be afraid. He wants us to face difficulties, tragedies and even persecutions with trust in Him and His loving mercy. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have contemplated the mercy of God. This has been a beautiful time to contemplate God’s steadfast love. When we do so, we learn to trust God and our fears are overcome. We learn to persevere amid trials and tribulations because we believe as we pray in the psalms that God’s mercy endures forever. He is always at our side with His love and protection.”

He also commended the faithful in the diocese who have heeded the Pope’s call to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He noted the thousands who have walked through the Doors of Mercy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. Matthew’s Cathedral or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and received the Jubilee Year indulgence. “For this, we give thanks to God, the Father of mercies.”

He encouraged everyone to continue their pilgrimage in faith and use the jubilee year’s motto, “Merciful Like the Father” for their journey in life. In his words, “May we continue to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us! And may Mary, our mother of Mercy, continue to teach and inspire us to be heralds and instruments of mercy in a world that is so in need of God’s mercy.”

If we ever question God’s love for us, the bishop said all we have to do is look at the Crucifix. “The crucified Jesus shows us that evil is overcome by good and that love is more powerful than sin and hatred. His Resurrection shows that love is even more powerful than death.” And he encouraged everyone to remember Jesus’s final words in the Gospel reading, especially when going through difficult trials and feeling tired: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”

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