Fr Larry Kaufmann CSsR
(Redemptorist Mission Director)
“Year of Mercy” has captured the imagination of Catholics in a dynamic way. Everywhere I have had the sense that for people this Jubilee Year is something different, and that they expected the mission to reflect that. The four days of mission (Monday to Thursday) have been marked by an intensity I have not often experienced on regular missions. I suspect this has something to do with packing so much into those four days. Here is an idea of the daily program:
6:00am Mass (always well attended)
9.00am Mass (attended by many elderly and retired people who often would not be able to come in the evenings)
7.00pm Mission service, followed by confessions
There were many opportunities offered for confessions after morning Masses and after the evening mission services, except on the Wednesday which comprised a Penitential Service anyway, and Thursday which saw the formal close of the mission with a Eucharist.
Here is an idea of the daily program:
Morning Masses: “Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit.”
The Monday evening mission theme, “Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy” clearly set the tone for the remainder of the mission. I enshrined a large icon of Jesus Christ, which was incensed during the opening hymn. After the sermon, there was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, with a guided meditation focusing on our relationship with the Lord. Benediction to close the service.
Morning: Votive Mass of “The Forgiveness of Sins”
The evening service on “Healing as an Experience of God’s Mercy” was always well attended. There were always tears, especially during the guided meditation retracing the steps of life. This was followed by a blessing with the “Oil of Mercy for the Healing of Memories”. People were invited to come up as married couples, as families, as prayer groups etc., to emphasise relationality.
Votive Masses in the morning of “Mary, Mother of Mercy”
In the evening many priests from the respective local deaneries helped with the penitential service. What I encouraged people to emphasise when confessing was not so much “what I did” (and providing the long list), but rather: “I am a beloved child of God, but with a tendency to be……… (more of a ‘character’ sin, like: proud, selfish, judgmental, angry etc etc.)
“Eucharist as a Celebration of God’s Mercy” to close the mission.
This included Renewal of Baptismal Vows, and, in lieu of prayers of intercession, representatives of various categories of people lit candles on the altar while I invoked a blessing upon them. (See below for different possible categories. All parishes chose more than seven, albeit it different ones.) During the Eucharistic prayer, the lights of the church were switched off, with light coming only from the candles burning on the altar.
PRAYER OF BLESSING OVER THE OIL
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we praise and thank you for this oil
which brings healing and hope
to your people who come to you in faith.
By the gift of your Holy Spirit
bless + this oil which we set aside for use in the name of Jesus.
May it become for us the oil of mercy poured over our wounds.
Through it may Jesus, the Wounded Healer,
touch the brokenness of our human condition
and restore the dignity that is ours
who are created in your image,
and baptised into your name:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
BLESSINGS OF MERCY During the Closing Eucharist
(There are 14 possible categories listed here. All or some can be used, but a minimum of 7 is recommended)
A candle is lit by a representative of the following groups. Remain standing next to the candle while the blessing is given by the celebrant.
- MARRIED COUPLES
- ENGAGED COUPLES / ALL PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE
- SINGLE (by choice)
- YOUNG PEOPLE
- AGED AND INFIRM
- WORK AND UNEMPLOYMENT
- CATECHUMEN / PERSON OF OTHER DENOMINATION
- GAY PERSONS
- ALL PARISH MINISTRIES, BOTH ORDAINED AND LAY