By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent
During the Holy Year of Mercy, Catholics have been rediscovering what it means to be “Merciful like the Father.” During a Holy Hour held in Burlington, attendees learned that means a hefty dose of becoming patient like the father as well.
The April 12 Holy Hour was held in St. Paul Church, a worship site of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, and one of 13 parishes in the Diocese designated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to host a Holy Door during the Year of Mercy.
Father Christopher Picollo, pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, who presided over the Holy Hour, explained how mercy and patience, as in a marriage, are bound together: “You can’t have one without the other.”
Citing Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Father Picollo further emphasized the connection between mercy and patience. “The Holy Father said in his statement that the exhortation is especially timely in this Jubilee of Mercy because it is an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience. If we take a look at our lives, we all need patience and we all need mercy.”
“We have to really think about what mercy is and be kind to people, especially those in desperate situations,” Father Picollo went on to say. “We have opportunities in our everyday lives to show mercy and be patient with one another, and sometimes it’s not so simple. Think of all the areas where we can be merciful and exercise patience…they all offer different opportunities throughout the day for us to have patience and show mercy.”
For a number of teens from St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, this was an extraordinary and unusual experience, not only to have passed through a Holy Door, but also to have participated in the chanting of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
At the invitation of Linda Xerri, St. Mary of the Lakes’ Youth Minister, members of the Youth Energized in the Spirit (Y.E.S.) ministry and their families drove to Burlington to participate in the Holy Hour and to take the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence by passing through the Holy Door.
Abigail Loughlin, 16, a student in Camden Catholic High School, commented, “I have thought more about mercy this year, especially having spent my 16th birthday weekend with my family in Philadelphia when the Pope visited.”
Loughlin’s mother, Rosemary, said she finds it difficult in this day and age to show mercy or patience. “Everything is about instant gratification,” she said, “and we grow more impatient every day. We don’t have to wait for a TV show, because it’s right there when we want it! I find this also cuts down our ability to say we’re sorry and mean it. … Today we need to try extra harder to exercise patience, forgiveness, and to understand other people.”
Brianna McNally, a 16-year-old junior in Seneca High School, Tabernacle, said she hadn’t given much thought about why the Pope initiated a Jubilee Year of Mercy, but now that “it’s been brought to my attention more and more, I will certainly think more about why the Pope is asking us to be merciful toward each other, especially to those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Janice McNally, who came with her husband and teenage daughter, also said she finds it difficult to be patient and show mercy today. “It’s very, very difficult to be patient - with my kids, my husband, my family and my life,” she said.
As someone who also holds a part-time job, she says she finds there is little patience in the workplace, as well. She was, however, thrilled to pass through the Holy Door and take part in the Holy Hour service. “We’ve never done it before and I think it’s a great way of keeping the family together and letting us know why we’re here.”
During his reflection, Father Picollo referenced a number of Biblical passages, including Psalm 25, quoting, “Remember your compassion and your mercy oh Lord, for they are of old” as well as the recurring refrain, “Your mercy endures forever.”
His final admonition was pure and simple: “Err on the side of mercy.”