Rev. Fr. Martin Arlando, the parish priest at the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Penang decided some months back that His Holiness Pope Francis’ Papal Bull of Induction of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), which was issued on the 11th April 2015, needed to be explained to his parishioners. He also decided that this explanation was best done by a layperson in simple terms to be easily understood by all. So Martin Jalleh was asked to do a day long formation on the 12th September.
This formation was in preparation for the coming Jubilee Year of Mercy due to begin on the 8th December, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and also the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The year was to close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on the 20th November, 2016. It was especially important for all parishioners to know the significance of this auspicious year as CDM had been recently been chosen as one of three pilgrim churches in the Penang Diocese where the Door of Mercy would be installed.
In his open address, Fr Martin stressed that we at CDM should fully understand the meaning of God’s mercy and to live it out. It was very significant that Pope Francis initiated this Year of Mercy which has its roots with St Faustina, whose diary was the first book given to the Holy Father as a youth.
Martin Jalleh began the formation by explaining the importance of the dates for the opening and closing of the Year of Mercy. He then went on the give some examples of the Pope as the extraordinary spiritual man living by example the works of God’s mercy. He explained in simple terms of all the 25 key sections of the Papal Bull. In order to assist the participants, Fr Martin instructed that a publication on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy by the Prayer Ministry Office was distributed to everyone of the 145 participants at the registration of the formation. Martin Jalleh also explained that each of the points mentioned by the Holy Father had a reference to the bible.
Martin also explained the significance of the Door of Mercy. To give due dignity to this door, it would have to be uniquely designed and would have to last until the declaration of the next Jubilee year, which would be in 50 years time. As such significant cost is involved to ensure its integrity and dignity over those years. As to objections to the high cost, Martin explained the Judas also had such a complain when a women used expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet.
In the course of the formation, the participants had an impromptu catechism lesson when Martin intermittently asked some of the questions on the understanding of the faith. What does the priest say when he crosses himself on the forehead, on the lips and on his chest before he proclaims the gospel? Why we must we have a priest present for confession and confession cannot be done via Skype? What does the word “Eucharist” and “Mass” mean? How important are rituals in our faith? Does God need you?
In order to reflect on the words of the Pope on the coming Year of Mercy, Martin gave out three sets of notes explaining further the meaning of Mercy as the foundation of the life of the church, the key summary points on Papal Bull and the Corporal & Spiritual Works of Mercy. There were practical suggestions for practicing the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy by Joe Paprocki of Loyola Press.
The many participants, from youths to senior citizens, from CDM and other parishes, found the formation an eye-opener to understanding and realizing the importance of this Year of Mercy to CDM as a pilgrim church. The mission entrusted to CDM is to incorporate all the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in its community and society at large. This great responsibility and privilege is in order to fulfill the aspirations and hopes of His Holiness Pope Francis to fully live our lives as Catholics “ … to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness.” in this coming Year of Mercy.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
14th September, 2015