Year of Mercy
A message to ACN benefactors from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, President of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
The symbol of hope, in heraldry too, is the anchor; but there is also another image which in some sense seems to me to be still more significant. I am thinking of the sails. The anchor holds the boat securely in the ocean, whereas the sails serve to drive it forward and to cause it to run through the sea towards the dry land. Hope is the breeze which, filling these sails, propels us forward. It was hope which, at the beginning of the Church, gave to the Christian message that extraordinary power to expand which carried it very rapidly to the ends of the earth.
On December 8, under the protection of the Virgin Immaculate, and together with the Holy Father and the whole Church, we have spiritually crossed over the threshold of the Holy Door and thus entered into the Holy Jubilee, the Year of Mercy.
This open Holy Door is the Door of Hope, the Door of Trust in Divine Mercy. With our crossing, we are called to forget the past and to turn our hearts forward, towards a new adventure of Grace, towards the fullness of God’s Mercy. In order for this to happen in an authentic way, we ought to seek to pass through the Holy Door after a sincere and heartfelt sacramental confession, coupled with the lively desire to embark upon the road of holiness. This holiness is a vocation written into our Baptism, through which each one of us is called to holiness. It is holiness that represents the full realization of our personality. This holiness is achieved within the context of our own personal situation, in the family, in the workplace.
Holiness is something immensely glorious, yet something extremely simple and ordinary. It means living the particular details of each day, of every circumstance, as a “vocation,” with intense love. We need to reach the point where we can allow the Lord to act within us, through us; until we’re able to say along with St Paul: “No longer I, but Christ lives in me; to me life is Christ.”
To hope, to hope always, to begin again to hope after the umpteenth disappointment, to hope that tomorrow will be better, even after it has on so many occasions been worse, to absorb all the apparent denials, just as the earth absorbs the heavy rain – this is truly great and reveals the omnipotence of Divine Grace. The symbol of hope, in heraldry too, is the anchor; but there is also another image which in some sense seems to me to be still more significant. I am thinking of the sails. The anchor holds the boat securely in the ocean, whereas the sails serve to drive it forward and to cause it to run through the sea towards the dry land. Hope is the breeze which, filling these sails, propels us forward. It was hope which, at the beginning of the Church, gave to the Christian message that extraordinary power to expand which carried it very rapidly to the ends of the earth. Our charity also lives completely on hope. When, for example, many project applications arrive, we must hope that our benefactors will help us fulfill so many hopes.
This world is starved of hope and will listen to a message to the extent that it is capable of offering it genuine hope. We Christians are responsible for the hope that has been given to us; for this hope we must be ready to give reason and not merely lip service.
We must be heralds of hope, passing it on to others; just as the faithful do in their processions when they pass the blessed water from hand to hand, so too we must pass this divine hope from heart to heart. For indeed, there are many things we can live without, but we cannot live without hope.
Christian hope is an active hope, full of things to do while we wait: to watch, to grow in love towards all. For this reason it is like yeast and salt in the dough of this world. To the Christ who is coming we must go forward with good works, with works of mercy, with the lighted lamp of faith. In good works Christ has already come. Hence we must focus on Him, and on all the rest only in relation to Him, in view of Him!
Dearest Friends, I pray that through the intercession of Mary, the Beloved Mother of the Redeemer, you may be able to grow each day of this Jubilee year in trust in the infinite Mercy of God, and that we all overflow the whole world with joy, every person and environment that we know, because there’s more joy in giving than in receiving. And with this thought I’d like to send you my warmest greetings.
May God bless you and the Virgin protect you!
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