1. Get yourself to Mass. As I mentioned the Immaculate Conception is December 8, and this is a Holy Day of Obligation-Catholics need to get to Mass. However, during this Year of Mercy, I encourage everyone to get to Mass more often. Don't only go when it's required, but commit to pray and worship at Mass in addition to Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Maybe you could pick one Saturday morning a month to attend, or perhaps there is sometime during the week when you could attend. It doesn't have to be huge, but a small step to center your life around the Eucharist will do so much. In many places, it's hard to attend daily Mass, and perhaps where you live, there aren't any daily Masses you can attend. In that case, I encourage you to make a spiritual communion as a way to ask God for His special graces and presence.
2. Go to Confession. When we haven't gone to Confession for months or years, going back into that box can be terrifying! Especially if the last time we went to Confession was a really bad experience, or if we have something hugely heavy weighing on our soul. There have been times that I have literally had to shove myself into that Confessional-it's not always easy to receive this Sacrament of mercy and love. Here are a couple sections from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina for you to reflect on:
"Today, the Lord has been teaching me, once again, how I am to approach the Sacrament of Penance: My daughter, just as you prepare in My presence, so also you make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light." (Notebook VI, Paragraph 1725)
“Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.” (Notebook VI, Paragraph 1602)3. Integrate silent prayer into your life. I live by the phrase that "You can't give what you don't have." If you don't have a life rooted in God's grace and love, then how will you be able to share His grace and mercy with others? During this Year of Mercy, I invite you to open yourself up to God through silent prayer. This is something that I am working on, because over the past few months, I noticed that my prayer and life had just gotten busy and noisy. So, each day this Advent, I've either been sitting on my bed, at the kitchen table with the Advent wreath, or in a church pew for 10 minutes of silent prayer and meditation. Don't feel like you have to do 10 minutes or do this in any particular place; you can carve our 3 minutes or 5 minutes or whatever you think is best. Find something that works for you, and enter into silent prayer. Talk with God about your day, ask Him for help, thank Him for blessings, meditate on the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska...the list of ways you can utilize this prayer time are endless!
4. Do the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy! These are concrete ways that we can bring love and mercy to other people, and I encourage you to bring them into your life somehow. Many times, you can totally combine these. For example, you (by yourself or with a group of other people), can clean a cemetery (this seems like a good way to do "bury the dead") and while you are there, pray for the dead ("pray for the living and the dead"). Annie has some great examples of ways to live out the corporal works of mercy, which can be found here.
For some other great ideas, you can also check out "Living the Year of Mercy," by Emily Stimpson! I hope that you all have a blessed day, and a glorious start to the Year of Mercy tomorrow!!!!