With so much anxiety, confusion, and fear in the world today, with growing tensions and anger giving way to deadly rampages and wars, our hearts cry out in prayer, “Help us Lord!” And more than ever, God wants us to know His remedy for the gravity of sin that assaults us—the fullness and power of His merciful love! For this reason, Pope Francis has called for a special “Year of Mercy” that the Church will celebrate from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, December 8, 2015, through the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. It is a special time for us to more fully embrace God’s mercy and to bring His mercy to others.
Christ is the very door of our salvation, the door of mercy, and the way that leads to the Father’s House. This Living Door of Mercy is symbolized in a sacramental way by the holy doors of the churches designated so for this Jubilee Year as places of pilgrimage. In our diocese, you can make pilgrimages to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, St. Mary Church in Johnson City, and the Church of Divine Mercy in Knoxville. I encourage you to also avail yourself of the plenary indulgence associated with these pilgrimages.
Our pilgrimage also reminds us that God’s mercy is greater than any sin, and that Christ, though He rejects sin, never rejects the sinner. And the medicine of God’s mercy awaits us in a most intimate way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Only by receiving the medicine of God’s mercy are we able to apply this same medicine can we also defeat the greatest offenses that afflict our hearts, our marriages and families, and our communities. How I pray that you will frequent this often neglected sacrament.
Jesus awaits you, He thirsts for you, and has opened wide His Heart for you to enter. Just as Christ opens wide His Sacred Heart to us, so we too are called to open wide the door of our heart, so often closed because of sin and selfishness, so that others may experience God’s mercy through us. For the members of Christ’s Body thirst for us as well—the lonely, the afflicted, the homeless, the refugee. As such, this Jubilee of Mercy calls for us to reflect more on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and to put them into action. For as we are creatures of body and soul, so too must the medicine of mercy be applied generously to the areas of disease and wounds that are both physical and spiritual.
To better be God’s instruments of mercy, I wish to recommend the daily recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and to contemplate Jesus Christ, “the face of the Father’s mercy,” particularly in Eucharistic adoration. Draw closer also to Mary, our “Mother of Mercy,” and pray daily her Rosary, that you might truly be her children of mercy in a world so in need of saints. In closing, I wish to echo the words of Christ that the great “Pope of the Divine Mercy,” St. John Paul II, exclaimed throughout his pontificate—“Be not afraid!”
Sites for Holy Doors
Church of Divine Mercy (opened Dec. 6, 2015)
10919 Carmichael Rd., Knoxville, TN 37932
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (opened Dec. 8, 2015)
711 S. Northshore Dr., Knoxville, TN 37919
Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul (opened Jan. 1, 2016)
214 East 8th St., Chattanooga, TN 37402
St. Mary Church (opened Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015)
2211 E. Lakeview Dr., Johnson City, TN 37601
Living the Year of Mercy in Knoxville
Work of Mercy
|December 2015||Instruct the Ignorant and Admonish Sinners
Opening of the Year of Mercy at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, December 8; Opening of the Door of Mercy at the Church of Divine Mercy on Dec. 6; Opening of the Door of Mercy at St. Mary, Johnson City on Dec. 13.
|Reach out to those who are afraid, who are confused about their faith or longing for what the world cannot provide, and lovingly share the mercy of Jesus and his Church for them.
Pray outside an Abortion Clinic or donate to Catholic Charities of East TN Pregnancy Help Center.
|January 2016||Shelter the Homeless
Opening of the Door of Mercy at the Basilica of Sts Peter and Paul in Chattanooga.
|Donate to Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, or an agency serving the homeless.
Sponsor a refugee family through Bridge Refugee Services operating in Knoxville and Chattanooga.
|February 2016||Feed the Hungry||Donate non-perishable food to the Ladies of Charity or to a food pantry/meal program.
Donate to Catholic Relief Services to alleviate global poverty.
|March 2016||Visit the Imprisoned||Volunteer to help with your parish’s prison ministry efforts or donate to the Dismas Ministry that assists our diocese with materials for those in prison—pray for prisoners and their families.|
|April 2016||Comfort the Afflicted||Reach out in a special way to the lonely and those suffering physically or spiritually and take specific action to bring them comfort.
Reflect upon the Church’s teaching on the meaning of salvific suffering and the “offering up” of one’s sufferings as a share in Christ’s sufferings for spiritual good of others.
|May 2016||Bury the Dead||Volunteer to help your parish’s Bereavement Ministry and help those mourning the loss of a loved one.
Visit the grave of a family member or friend and pray for them and the families they leave behind.
|June 2016||Forgive Offenses Willingly and Bear Wrongs Patiently||Reflect on who has hurt you, ask God to bring you healing, and pray for the wellbeing of those who have harmed you.|
|July 2016||Give Drink to the Thirsty||Donate to global efforts to help the world’s poor through Catholic Relief Services or donate your time and resources to local efforts such as your parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Conference or the Ladies of Charity.|
|August 2016||Counsel the Doubtful||Help those experiencing doubt or despair in their lives and share your experience of God’s presence and power in your life.|
|September 2016||Clothe the Naked||Donate clothes to a shelter, donate supplies to Catholic Charities of East TN, or your parish St.Vincent de Paul Conference or the Ladies of Charity|
|October 2016||Visit the Sick||Volunteer at a hospital/care center or the St. Mary Legacy Clinic, and visit the infirm or elderly.|
|November 2016||Pray for the Living and the Dead
Closing of the Year of Mercy
Christ the King of the Universe
November 20, 2016
|Attend All Saints and All Souls Day Masses and pray that Christ will be the Universal King in the hearts of all the living and the dead.|
What is the Jubilee of Mercy?
A jubilee is a special year called by the Church to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins. In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is calls on the Church to focus on mercy, because “It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends upon it.” (Misericordiae Vultus, 2)
When is the Year of Mercy?
The Year of Mercy begins on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and concludes on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Christ, King of the Universe.
What is a Holy Door?
A Holy Door is a special door only opened during a Jubilee. Entering through a Holy Door is a sign of entering into mercy. We are crossing over from sin into redemption. When Holy Doors are open, a pilgrimage to a Holy Door offers the possibility of obtaining a Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions.
Does the Diocese of Knoxville have Holy Doors?
Yes! Bishop Stika inaugurated the Jubilee of Mercy in the Diocese of Knoxville by opening a holy door, called the Door of Mercy, at Sacred Heart Cathedral. There are also Doors of Mercy at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, St. Mary in Johnson City, and the Church of Divine Mercy in Knoxville.