Faces on Faith: And that’s no bull!
There are few things that ever come to much good when they start with “bull,” but I would like to propose that the Jubilee Year of Mercy, beginning on December 8, will be an exception.
The Jubilee Year was announced in a ceremony by the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on April 11, with the formal presentation of the official Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. A Papal Bull has nothing to do with the bull we are sadly all too familiar with.
Indeed, a Papal Bull is a formal proclamation by the Pope. Its name, used for centuries in the Church, comes from the metal (lead) seal, or bulla, that was appended to the end of the proclamation in order to authenticate it.
This most recent Papal Bull is entitled Misericordiae Vultus, The Face of Mercy.
The Bull calls the Church and the world at large to contemplate and demonstrate the divine mercy which is the heart of every believer’s faith.
Pope Francis sincerely believes, demonstrated by his challenging direction in the most recent Roman Synod, that “a Church in which the proclamation of God’s mercy is not foundational, operational and obvious, is a Church that is not being true to its founder.”
While Pope Francis is setting aside a year-long focus on mercy, he is well aware that “we need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
Who can read the morning paper or look at the evening news without acknowledging a world that is so critically in need of a genuine awareness of God’s mercy.
The violence on our city streets, the despair that afflicts the destitute and the poor, the fear that consumes those at war, the blindness to the inherent dignity of the human person that causes unimaginable atrocities all of this could be cured by a deep felt awareness of God’s mercy.
God is good, and that’s no bull, and God has called all of us touched by goodness to demonstrate that goodness towards others. Francis has stated that “Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of (God) the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are.”
In this extraordinary Holy Year that we will soon begin let us all be merciful, and kind, and compassionate.
Let us develop a “habit of mercy” so that in everything we do the merciful and generous love of God might be visible in our actions and in our words.
The Pope’s Bull does not call us in the upcoming year to anything new or unique.
Rather it calls us to live gospel precepts which are thousands of years old, and to live them in a refreshingly new way, a way that has the potential of changing the world for the better.
-Father Christopher Senk, St. Isabel’s Church