WelCom December 2016:
Cardinal John Dew
At the end of the very wide and long street leading up to St Peter‘s Basilica in Vatican City are 13 letters, each of which are 15 feet high, spelling out the word MISERICORDIA, which is of course MERCY in English. Not only do they spell out the word, there are also paintings and stories of famous artworks, all aimed at assisting those who see this huge word to be aware of the Mercy of God.
While New Zealand has been struggling with earthquakes and major weather events I was in Rome at meetings and a few days’ retreat, and have been very aware of the anxious time people in Kaikōura, the greater Marlborough area and Wellington have had to contend with. I am aware the livelihoods of many people are threatened in Kaikōura, people have lost possessions, and there is great anxiety. I am also aware many in the Greater Wellington area have been suffering from severe floods and disruption because of the very bad weather. It was therefore helpful for me to see this word MISERICORDIA often over those days and to reflect that even though there have been some very difficult days we have not been abandoned by the God who loves us.
While looking at the word MISERICORDIA I also saw thousands of pilgrims making their way to the Doors of Mercy, often processing behind large crosses, bearing the logo of the Year of Mercy. I firmly believe this year has been a year of deep blessings and we have become much more aware of God’s ever present mercy, and of the call to show that mercy to others.
The Year of Mercy has closed, but our hearts can never be closed to those who need to experience kindness and mercy. The year, as it has been lived out in the Archdiocese and dioceses throughout the country, has been wonderful. I therefore want to thank our parishes, schools and colleges, many organisations and individuals who have done so much to help others experience Mercy. There have been many initiatives, perhaps the Mountain of Mercy of shoes and socks generously given in the middle of winter and widely distributed is a symbol of much that has been done this year. The practical support given at this time of the earthquakes and floods, the generous way people have come to the aid of others, is MERCY in action. Thank you to everyone.
We have begun a new Liturgical Year on the first Sunday of Advent, 27 November. But I think back to the first of January this year when Pope Francis said; ‘We all know a New Year doesn’t change everything, and that many problems will still be there tomorrow (injustices and abuse of power in the world) – but an Ocean of Mercy stands in contrast to the torrent of Misery swollen by sin.’
In the December column for WelCom each year, I usually thank everyone for their great contribution to parish and school life, and to various organisations throughout the year. I sincerely thank you all again this year and wish you blessings in abundance for the coming Christmas season. As I thank you and wish you blessings I also suggest one of the ways to continue to live Mercy would be to remember always we are immersed in an Ocean of Mercy.