Tomorrow begins the 33-day countdown to the beginning of what Pope Francis has proclaimed for the Church universal: “An Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.” The year (well, actually, it isn’t quite a full year – it ends on November 20th which is the end of the 2016 liturgical year) begins on December 8, 2015 when the great doors of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican swing open, inviting all believers to enter into this time of great grace.
When Pope Francis announced his intention to institute a Jubilee Year, he said, “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.”
AMU VP for Student Affairs Julie Cosden (left) and six AMU students traveled to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis this fall.
How true that is for us. The credibility of our Christian witness, and its evangelical impact, hinge on how we as individuals express mercy and compassionate love.
He went on, “Without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more.
Ave Maria University will heed the call of Pope Francis and embrace the wisdom of the Church in its invitation to enter more deeply into the mystery of the mercy of God.
On our campus these past 10 days we have implored divine mercy as we commended the soul of student Bobby Byron to the Lord. His tragic death during fall break reminded all of us of the fragility of life, that we are “a brief mist that vanishes,” and that there is an urgency in seeking mercy while being instruments of it.
May Bobby rest in peace.
I was deeply moved by the hundreds of students who came to the memorial Mass on Monday evening, just as I was when the awful news reached our campus and a large group of students gathered that Sunday night to pray a rosary to the Mother of Mercy. Surely she was with Bobby in the hour of his death. The fact that he was in a campus Bible study this semester gave fresh evidence of his living faith and humble search for God. Our prayers are with his family, and we are praying in a special way for his brother, Jimmy, who, too, is an AMU student, and whose heart is broken now.
Only the light of faith can help him and those grieving pass from sorrow to hope. As the Holy Father said, “Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
And so it will.
Our Lady can help us on this journey. I urge students to go by Campus Ministry and get the “33 Days to Morning Glory” book of preparation to either make or renew their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I also urge them to sign up for the Leaders of Mary #Decaday campaign – over 200 have already! As the events of the last ten days remind us, now is the acceptable hour!