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Happy Advent!

This Advent is a bit different than other Advents. Why? On December 8th, the entire Catholic world will embark on a Year of Mercy. Pope Francis states, “I present, therefore, this Extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us.”

Mercy has always been a difficult concept for me to grasp. I usually equate it to mean forgiveness. However, mercy is more than forgiveness. Actually, it is a whole way of life. In fact, Pope Francis mentions saints dedicated to making “divine mercy their mission in life.” He mentions explicitly St. Faustina Kowalska -- you may observe St. Faustina’s image of Divine Mercy in the west side niche of the church where the statue of the Sacred Heart is positioned.

Since Pope Francis announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy about a year ago, I have spent a large amount of time thinking about how to incorporate the theme of mercy into the life of the parish. I wasn’t getting very far until Fr. Curtis and I received Bishop Kemme’s directives on how to celebrate the Year of Mercy in the parish. One of the directives included focusing on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Of course, how could I have overlooked the Works of Mercy? These are some of the most practical ways taught by the Church to live out the Gospel, specifically, the way of mercy.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are directed to the bodily needs of our neighbor. They include the following: To feed the hungry. To give drink to the thirsty. To clothe the naked. To shelter the homeless. To visit the sick. To visit the imprisoned. To bury the dead. The Spiritual Works of Mercy focus on relieving the spiritual suffering of our neighbor. They include the following: To instruct the ignorant. To counsel the doubtful. To admonish sinners. To bear wrongs patiently. To forgive offences willingly. To comfort the afflicted. To pray for the living and the dead.

Every Advent, just like Lent, we strive to order our life more according to the Gospel. I challenge all of us to choose and act upon one Corporal Work of Mercy and one Spiritual Work of Mercy, as part of our Advent commitment.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor

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