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Perhaps you and I cannot be in Rome on Tuesday when the Holy Father opens The Jubilee Year of Mercy by throwing open the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
 
But we can be there with him in spirit by offering the Jubilee Prayer Pope Francis wrote:
 

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
 
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved,
and forgiven by God.
 
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
 
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Amen.

 
Why not make a promise to say the pope’s prayer every morning to keep the Year of Mercy alive in our hearts?
 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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Small_GroupAs the fall faith-sharing season draws to a close, we hope that it has been a time filled with spiritual growth and renewal for you. This is a time to come together to celebrate the season in its fullness—challenges and triumphs both.
 
Take the time to look back and evaluate the season. Sowing Seeds, RENEW International’s resource book for small groups, provides evaluation questions for both community members and group leaders; these questions will help you take a deeper look at what the season has meant to all of you and help you understand how much you have accomplished.
 
Once you have evaluated those accomplishments, it is time to celebrate them! Whether you celebrate as a parish or as individual groups, you want to come together and share your joy at what the season has meant for all of you, and we want to share your joy!
 
Take photos or videos and send them to your pastoral representative along with your good-news stories. Sharing your accomplishments in this way is a powerful means of witness. When we share your stories with others they see the transformative power of working in small groups. Your photo, video, or good-news story could provide the tipping point for someone on the fence about whether or not to join a small group.
 
Think about what your small-group experience has meant for you. Would you like others to have that same experience? By sharing your experience you can help us reach more people yearning to feel the presence of God in their lives.
 
Jennifer Bober is a RENEW Marketing Associate with both non-profit and publishing experience. In addition to her marketing career, she is a professional liturgical musician.

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“John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God’” (Luke 3:3-6).

John the Baptist proclaimed a covenant between God and us in which God lifts up the poor, cares for those who are downtrodden, and exalts those who are oppressed.

St. Luke demands that Jesus’ followers do no less. Our response to Jesus is to turn toward God and toward a life of service and concern for others. We must do so even in the quiet parts of our lives that contain conscious and unconscious attitudes and behaviors that do not uphold Jesus’ commandment to love God and one another. Especially in this time of Advent, we should turn away from being satisfied and complacent with our present lives and make our every living day a prayer of praise and thanksgiving that bear fruit in our actions and attitudes.

We are called to own up to our failings and seek the forgiveness of God. This forgiveness makes us stronger and more able to live the life God desires for us.

Where in your life is reconciliation needed? What role does prayer play in the reconciliation process?

Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store

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Today is the first day of Advent. In little more than a week, Pope Francis will open the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
 
Advent has been called Little Lent, because it is a time of repentance in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
 
In Greek, “repentance” is metanoia—a “turning.”
 
The pope’s message is that “Peter turned.” In one of his recent homilies, Francis talked about how, late at night on Holy Thursday, Peter denied Jesus three times. Then Peter heard a rooster crow and realized that he had lost everything when he denied the Lord. Precisely at that moment, Jesus was led to another room, across the courtyard, and fixed his gaze on Peter. “The Gospel of Luke,” Pope Francis said, “recounts that ‘Peter cried bitterly.’
 
“However,” Francis continued, “that looked changed Peter’s heart” (homily,
May 22, 2015.)
 
Pope Francis urged his listeners to think about Jesus’ gaze on us. “He always looks at us with love,” the Pope promised.
 
Our prayer today:
 

Lord of Mercy, fix your loving gaze on me
and help me repent for my sinful mistakes.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
Pope Francis, “The Face of Mercy”

 
forgive-208824_1280The extraordinary jubilee Year of Mercy will begin on December 8, 2015 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception during the second week of Advent, and it will conclude on November 20, 2016, the feast of Christ the King. The jubilee year begins with the opening of the door of mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The following Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, Holy Doors of Mercy will be opened in every diocese around the globe, inviting each of us to cross the threshold and receive God’s extraordinary grace and mercy and, in turn, open the doors of our own hearts. The call to receive God’s unconditional mercy, give mercy, and be witnesses of mercy is a call to Advent action. What better way to prepare to receive Christ anew in our hearts and homes this Christmas than to perform an Advent action of mercy.
 
Advent invites us to a time of new beginning—to make a fresh start and become in right relationship with God and our neighbor. Christmas is a celebration of the mercy of God made incarnate through the birth of Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus among us to take on our human weakness and suffering and bring us healing and wholeness. Jesus saves us through God’s mercy and calls us to free others through God’s grace working in and through us. As you contemplate the Christmas gifts you will give this year, consider those who are in need of a gift that does not cost money or require wrapping paper. They may need your mercy or forgiveness, the gift of not being judged, or the gift of not holding a grudge. It can be very difficult to offer forgiveness, especially when we have been deeply hurt, but that is what Francis is calling us to do during this extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.
 
There are many families and individuals that will not have a happy Christmas this year due to lack of forgiveness from an offended spouse, family member, or friend. Is there someone who will be missing from your Christmas table because of a lack of forgiveness? Do you hear the call from Pope Francis to be a witness of mercy this Advent? After the horrific attacks on the innocent on the streets of Paris the pope shared in his daily homily that even in the wake of this evil we can’t seal the door of mercy. In his letter, “The Face of Mercy,” Francis writes, “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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