Mercy ritual included in Divine Mercy Mass April 3
When Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy to run from the beginning of Advent in 2015 through Nov. 20, 2016, the Archdiocese of New Orleans began making plans for how it would celebrate the year.
Dominican Father David Caron, vicar for evangelization, said one of the natural ideas that developed from a widespread planning process was to do something special tied to Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, which focuses on the mercy of God through the recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet, the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation and the celebration of Masses throughout the archdiocese.
St. Joseph Church on Tulane
There are dozens of Divine Mercy Masses scheduled for April 3, and the major liturgy will be celebrated at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Ave. in New Orleans.
A feature of the archdiocesan Mass will be a simple rite, led by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, in which individual and collective sins will be listed, and the faithful will be asked to pray for God’s forgiveness.
“It’s a real act, but it’s also a symbolic act,” Father Caron said.”I think this is about being authentic. The Jubilee Year of Mercy invites us to look at the whole story, and the Christian story is one of both sin and grace.
“The archbishop really wants to focus on the fact that as individuals, as a church and as a society, we’ve let people down, and the root of that is sin. It’s appropriate that we ask for forgiveness.”
Examination of conscience
Just as individuals make an examination of conscience to discover the ways in which they have sinned, Father Caron said, the same holds true for Catholic institutions.
“Periodically, individuals have to do a self-examination to realize whether or not they are walking the Christian walk, and Christian-Catholic institutions have to do that as well,” Father Caron said. “This needs to be clear. The sins that the archbishop will name are done by individuals, but just by the fact that we are a community, these sins have affected the community.”
Among the sins mentioned in the rite will be human trafficking. While the church may not have done that, Father Caron said, “people inside the church have.”
The ritual will include a list of “sins of commission and omission,” followed by a sung response by the assembly.
“We know the list of sins is much larger, and this is not an exhaustive list,” Father Caron said. “Part of the church’s history is that sometimes we can appear to be triumphalistic. Christianity is not about being triumphalistic. We’re about the truth – ‘veritas.’ Jesus says, ‘I am the truth.’ We want to name both the sin and the grace. We want to name the darkness and the light. For Christians, Good Friday is always connected to Easter. That’s the paschal mystery.”
Father Caron said parishes and schools throughout the archdiocese have done an excellent job, utilizing the impetus of the Year of Mercy, to offer events and seminars that reflect on God’s infinite mercy.
The Office of Evangelization compiled a list of speakers on various aspects of God’s mercy, and those speakers are available to speak at both parishes and schools.
“We’re encouraging them to do more,” Father Caron said. “I spoke with the cathedral, and the number of people going through the Holy Year door is fantastic. One person told me, ‘I’m hearing the word mercy more in the liturgy than I ever have.’ People are hearing it in different ways. A lot of people are doing outreach to the poor.”
The recent series of Wednesday night confessions across the archdiocese was very successful. Every church in the archdiocese was open for confession on three Wednesdays in March, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
“I was at St. Catherine of Siena and I started before 5 o’clock because people were there,” Father Caron said. “I probably heard 26 confessions. Some were devotional; some were really significant. It was very successful.”