QUICK TAKE ONE: The doors of Mercy will soon close. Sunday November 20th, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe , is the day the Vatican will close it’s doors of mercy. Why is that important? Is not Christ’s mercy always available? YES! ALWAYS! But in this past year His mercy has been available in a way typically only offered through the church once every 50 years. But Pope Francis felt called to offer this indulgence just 16 years after the last time St John Paul II offered it in 2000.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WITHIN THE U.S. THE LOCAL DOORS OF MERCY WILL ALL CLOSE ON THE THIRTEENTH OF NOVEMBER 2016.
This site offers an excellent explanation and the history behind the Jubilee year of Mercy which is recorded all the way back to the days of Moses in the Old Testament. There is even an embeded video of Pope Francis opening the doors of Mercy last year on December 8th.
QUICK TAKE TWO What is different from the past Jubilee Years of Mercy? Something incredibly significant. For the first time ever, Catholics do not need to make a pilgrimage to Europe and enter through one of the three sets of doors of Mercy found in Rome to receive this indulgence. (The other doors which are opened only after the ones of St Peter’s are opened are found at these three major basilicas: St John in the Lateran, St Paul Outside the Wall and St Mary Major.) Instead Pope Francis has given permission to the Bishops of every diocese in the world to chose not just one set of Doors of Mercy but several within their jurisdictions.
QUICK TAKE THREE: Ok, just what is the indulgence associated with the Doors of Mercy and why should you care? “For the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father has announced a plenary indulgence for all who make a visit to the Holy Doors established in every cathedral in the world, as well as in other churches designated by the local bishop.” (emphasis is mine but the quote is from the Diocese of Charlotte, NC as found on the site for St Patrick’s Cathedral)
For those rusty on just what an indulgence is let me quote once more from this site.
“During the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis has declared that there will be a special Jubilee Indulgence which all of the faithful may receive. An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins which have been forgiven. Sin has both eternal and temporal consequences. In confession, the eternal consequences are forgiven, but the damage we have done to ourselves and to others here on earth remains, and God asks us to assist him in making amends. When we cooperate with God in doing good works and offering up our sufferings, we are purified from the residue of sin. If we die without being completely purified, God, in his mercy, allows us to complete our purification in purgatory. An indulgence is exactly what its name implies. It is God the Father, through the Church, being indulgent with his children. To receive the Jubilee Indulgence one must make a brief pilgrimage to a Holy Door & perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy.”
QUICK TAKE FOUR: How do I find out where the doors of Mercy are in my Diocese
To locate Doors of Mercy within the United States go here.
Within Canada go here.
To locate them within other countries throughout the world go here.
QUICK TAKE FIVE: What do I have to do to receive this indulgence? Again, because the website for St Patrick’s does such a good job explaining all of this I will simply quote what they have explained:
“The Holy Father wrote that the requirements for receiving the Holy Door indulgence are as follows: “To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion…. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for [the Pope] and for the intentions that [he] bear[s] in [his] heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.” So to receive the indulgence, one must:
- Visit the Holy Doors in one of the designated churches with a desire for true conversion.
- Be free from any attachment to sin (even venial sin)
- Go to Confession within 20 days of visiting the Holy Doors
- Receive Holy Communion
- Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father (an Our Father and Hail Mary will suffice)
- Make an Profession of Faith (i.e., pray the Creed)
- Make a reflection on mercy (e.g., praying a Chaplet of Divine Mercy)”
QUICK TAKE SIX: Why didn’t I write about this sooner? Good question. I am slightly embarrassed to say that until I attended the annual Eucharistic Congress this fall I simply had not heard about it which given that I not only attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis but often attend daily Mass is dumbfounding. But to be honest – I don’t think we are alone in this situation. In fact when I first began to research it – I found it appalling how few church websites make any mention of it. A few have created a fount of information – our local Cathedral as an example. Yet, others don’t even make a passing mention of it. Last but not least – when I learned about it in SEPTEMBER, (yes, September. I’m sorry that so many opportunities were lost for those who could have stumbled upon my blog and read about these Holy Doors sooner) I came home on fire to write about this magnificent opportunity for grace, forgiveness and mercy. I did a great amount of research and reached out to one of my editors for Catholic Online magazine I have been writing for the past two years who agreed this would be a good post to have. However, literally the day I sat down to write this post – I experienced such physical pain in my arms that typing became almost impossible. I was literally unable to type for several weeks. Finally I am healed enough to be able to type again.
QUICK TAKE SEVEN Where can you learn more about all of this: Well, I will list a few resources I came across when researching about this when I first heard about it.
Official Website for the Jubilee Year of Mercy for 2016.
The Holy Doors has great information and several videos.
Here is one of the videos found at the above referenced link which explains beautiful the Holy Doors and how they are a metaphor for Christ whom we go through into salvation. Please take time to view this video. It’s short (2 minutes), simple yet profound.
The Holy Father’s Announcement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Here is a segment from his announcement:
“I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.”
But what if you have stumbled upon this too late to participate in a pilgrimage to a set of Doors of Mercy near you? Don’t despair. As I said in my first quick take – God’s mercy is never ending and there are many ways we can partake of it. Our family – as well as planning a pilgrimage through one of the sets of doors within our parish within the next two weeks, will soon start working our way through the 33 days to Merciful Love a DIY retreat written by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC.
While the 33 days to Merciful Love is considered a sequel to the 33 days to Morning Glory a Consecration of oneself to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary – it’s not necessary that one complete 33 days of Morning Glory retreat before completing the 33 days to Merciful Love. Keep in mind though that Father Gainly does recommend doing both so as to be able to “drink from it (the fountain of Christ’s Mercy) so much more deeply and easily.”
So, as you can see – if you arrive on this post only to discover you missed the opportunity to complete a pilgrimage to the Doors of Mercy – there are still so many ways to experience God’s bountiful mercy.
I would like to close by sharing the link to the incredibly moving and beautiful hymn of mercy written for the Year of Mercy.
Be sure to mosey on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum, eh? That’s where the 7QT’s are hosted, after all!