Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Jubilee Year? A Jubilee Year is when the worldwide Catholic Church spends exactly one year focused on healing and forgiveness. Faithful are encouraged to spend more time in prayer, to attend confession, and to evangelize. The goal of a Jubilee Year is to grow in our faith, increase our service to others, and promote a sense of unity throughout the Catholic Church. It is a time "dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us."
What does 'mercy' really mean? Mercy is a word that indicates God love and action towards us. Mercy assumes sin; however, mercy is found in God and in the Church throughout the world.
What is Pope Francis really calling us to do during the Year of Mercy? The Holy Father is essentially calling us to do the following: contemplate, recognize, ask and receive, and to be merciful. Here in our diocese, we're focusing on Mercy Encountered and Mercy Extended.
How can I encounter mercy this year? The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great place to start! Faithful are encouraged to visit their local parish and make confession to experience God's love. Catholics are also encouraged to visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and obtain an indulgence during the Jubilee Year. Other suggestions: make a pilgrimage, even if it is just a visit to the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse; reflect on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, and learn more about Mary and the Saints.
How can I extend mercy this year? Putting the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy into action is a great first step. Other suggestions include obtaining an indulgence for someone who is deceased and connecting with your local Catholic Charities to learn more about their needs and the ways you can be of service to those in your community who need it the most.
What are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy? Click here for the Corporal Works and here for the Spiritual Works.
How can my parish learn more about implementing the Year of Mercy in our own parish community? Download the Jubilee Year of Mercy Parish Kit by clicking here.
Why is the Sacrament of Reconciliation so important during the Year of Mercy? Pope Francis said, "Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the center once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God's mercy with their own hands" (MV, 17). Many parishes throughout the diocese will offer additional opportunities for confession throughout the year; visit your parish listing for details.
What is the significance of the Holy Door in our diocese? Pope Francis stated that the Holy Door is a "sign of communion for the whole Church," and that "anyone who walks through the Holy Door will "experience the love of God, who consoles, pardons, and instills hope." Click here to learn more about the Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. On Saturday during Lent, parishes and other groups are invited to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at Cathedral, followed by a tour of the facility. Click here for more information. The Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is open weekdays 9 am-2 pm, Saturday 4:30-6:30 pm, and on Sunday from 7 am-noon + 4:30-6:30 pm. Please note: pilgrims are required to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation 8 days before or after making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door.
What is an indulgence? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1471) defines an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the actions of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints." In layman's terms, this means that the 'temporal punishment,' or natural consequence of a sin, is forgiven. Through an indulgence, God grants the prayer of the Church that the temporal penalty for sin due to someone be reduced (or possibly eliminated). By God's grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary restoration and reparation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. Click here to read an explanation of indulgences.
How do I gain a partial indulgence? You must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in a state of grace with the Church. You must express remorse and guilt as a result of your sins. Talk with your parish pastor about obtaining indulgences during the Year of Mercy. More information is available by the Holy Door at the Cathedral.
What should I be doing throughout the Year of Mercy? Here are some suggestions for encountering God's mercy on a daily basis:
- Pray Pope Francis' Year of Mercy prayer each day
- Attend confession regularly.
- Extend mercy by forgiving someone
- Read a great Catholic book - or two! - about mercy (The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis is a good place to start)
- Learn - and practice - the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
- Pray the Divine Mercy Novena
- Participate in a Pilgrimage.