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As the Jubilee Year of Mercy begins, the Minister General of our Order, Michael Perry OFM writes to Franciscans about how we should approach this time of grace so that divine mercy is received with new joy and hope into our lives.

“St. Francis teaches us that mercy is first and foremost an attribute of God from whom all mercy comes, and it must also characterize our relationships with others. The relationship between these two dimensions is vital.

In the words of Pope Francis; ‘Jesus affirms that mercy is not only an action of the Father, it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are. In short, we are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.’

Pope Francis also writes that ‘the mercy of God is the beating heart of the Gospel’.

Surely, we Franciscan who have vowed to live a Gospel life must have God’s mercy at the heart of everything we do and say… seeing ourselves as small and needy before God and entrusting ourselves in humility to the ‘Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God.’

Mercy is the fundamental criterion for how we treat others – to paraphrase St. Francis, there should not be anyone in the world who has sinned, however much they may have possibly sinned, who after they have looked into our eyes, would go away without having received our mercy.

This applies to all of those with whom we come in contact, whether inside or outside our fraternities.

The greatest joy in any human life is that of being loved and accepted in mercy.

As heralds of the Good News, we commit ourselves during this Jubilee Year of Mercy to leaving our comfort zones, and moving towards those places and people who most are in need of this message.

In the coming year we also celebrate 800 years of the Pardon of Assisi or the Portiuncula Indulgence, and joyfully remember that God’s pardon is greater than any sin.”

Our prayer is that all of us, and indeed the entire world, may be immersed in the tender mercy of God during this Jubilee Year of Mercy so that grace may truly set us free and transforms our lives.