Praying the Year of Mercy

Jubilee Year of Mercy- Final CoverA number of resources have been prepared for the Year of Mercy.

I’m sort of pleased to say that one of them remains somewhat distinctive.

It offers an oversight of the principal features of the year as can be seen from the contents page below. It will therefore serve as a useful companion to the Year, reminding of its key elements.


Most importantly though, the book especially focuses on the opportunity the Year offers for leading people into prayerful reflection on the Lord’s active and merciful presence in Scripture and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Year of Mercy  is an invitation for the Church and the world to know afresh the mercy of God. Prayer – especially in response to the word of God, and in the celebration of the Sacraments – leads us into a deeper knowledge of the God of Mercy and Truth. They also help us to a more faithful and fruitful living, strong in love for God, strong in love for neighbour.

‘A Prayer Book’ seeks to sustain and encourage that process of renewal.

The book comes with a Foreword from Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is rich with promise for the Church and for the world.

Pope Francis has reminded the Church that ‘We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it.’

This mercy, made known in Jesus Christ, is the source of our Christian identity. It is also the gift we are asked to share with the whole world. Pope Francis urges us to this also, to be effective signs of the Father’s action in our lives, living witnesses to others of the love God has for everyone.

This booklet helps us make the most of the Jubilee Year. It provides food for our private prayer, and support for times when we come together to pray with others. Used well, it will deepen our experience of God’s mercy, so that the Lord can make us more fit for mission, and strengthen our desire to share the good news of the mercy of God with our families and our neighbours.

+ Bernard Longley
Archbishop of Birmingham

Hopefully the book will be available from all good Catholic bookshops. Big discounts, however, are available if you go direct to the publisher…




Speak Lord: working for the harvest


Sunday’s psalm yearns for a new experience of life in this troubled and troubling world.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Psalm 84:9-14

  • Where do you lack peace?
  • Where does your neighbour?
  • How do you work to help our earth (to) yield its God-intended fruit?

Image was found here.

Speak Lord: We hear him in loud silence



The first reading at Mass this coming Sunday, the 19th Sunday of Ordinary time, describes a process of deepening encounter with the living God.

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of the Lord, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:9,11-13

One of the most successful spiritual books of recent decades has been The God of Surprises by Gerry Hughes SJ.

Much of the book, unsurprisingly given its title, is given over to exploring how God, the real and living God is beyond the images we have of him. Time and time again our preconceptions are challenged by surprising encounter with the living God who longs to reveal more of his truth and beauty and power and mercy to us.

There is surely something of that taking place in this episode on Mount Horeb.

Elijah is used to the Lord’s manifestation of himself in power and strife, but here he finds him only in the sound of a gentle breeze.

  •  Where/ how has God surprised you recently?
  • what change has that brought about in your live? How have you responded to him?

Image from here.

Taste and See: Christ’s Sacrifice, our sacrifice

Melchizedek, San Vitale, Ravenna

The Prayer over the Offerings we heard on Sunday evokes the worship of the Old Testament as we participate in the worship of the new covenant.

O God, who in the one perfect sacrifice
brought to completion varied offerings of the law,
accept, we pray, this sacrifice from your faithful servants
and make it holy, as you blessed the gifts of Abel,
so that what each has offered to the honour of your majesty
may benefit the salvation of all.
Through Christ our Lord.

The language of sacrifice is something that has been newly highlighted in the current English translation of the Roman Missal. In the 1970s translation of the Missale Romanum many of the references to sacrifice were softened or excluded, because of sensitivity to the neuralgic quality of the metaphor for protestant Christians.

More recently Catholics and other Christians have come to rediscover value in the metaphor.There is a new appreciation for the way in which the metaphor is renewed in Christ: in him sacrifice is not a something exterior that is offered to God, symbolising our desire to be in right relationship with him, but it is Christ’s own being. The sacrifice and the one making the offering are one and the same.

That integrity between the act and the acting-person, perfectly achieved in Christ, is beautifully foreshadowed in the person (and sacrifice) of Abel, whose offering is remembered in Eucharistic Prayer I.

Some of the old disputes about the appropriateness of using the language of sacrifice to describe Christian life and worship have found some sort of resolution today. Catholics recognise more clearly that the Mass is the Sacrament of the Sacrifice of Christ. We do not offer a new sacrifice to the Father in the Mass. But we do in the Mass re-present to him, in Sacrament, the once and for all Sacrifice, in and with Christ.

This Sacrifice is made newly efficacious for us through liturgical offering, for it re-connects us with the saving love of Christ so that, in him we might lovely be. So that we too might present ourselves in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives as sacrifice, an offering of ourselves, lives lived so as to be pleasing to God.

Mosaic of the Offerings of Abel and Melchizedek, San Vitale, Ravenna. (6th Century)
Photography (c) Allen Morris, 2004.