On December 8, 2015 an event will occur at the Vatican in Rome which will touch the life of each person in our Church and many beyond. Pope Francis I will open a special door, a Holy Door at St. Peters Basilica and the Jubilee Year of Mercy will commence. It will continue through the next year until November 20, 2016. This Year of Mercy will reach far beyond Rome to each and every parish community around the world. Mercy is central to the life of the Catholic community.
In this year we as Church are being called to recognize who we are – a merciful community of faith. It is an opportunity for us to be renewed as a place not of judgment or condemnation, but as one of pardon and merciful love.
The opening of the Holy Door in Rome has been the symbol of a holy year proclamation for centuries. It will remain open for the entire year. In this current Jubilee Year, the Holy Door takes on a special significance. As Pope Francis noted “[The Door] will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.”
The holy door at St. Peters will in many ways serve as a model for the door of every church, in every corner of the world. In every church, every parish, we will be called to present an open door to all, especially to those who have found themselves as outcasts or excluded. Mercy, consolation, pardon and hope are to be offered to all.
The call and challenge we are facing as Church and locally as parish community is a call to openness to all. Recalling Vatican II, the Pope remarked on what Council moved to accomplish: “The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress, were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. It was a new phase of the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning.” This is what the earliest Christian communities strove to be – open, caring and merciful.
The holy year of mercy is calling us to accomplish this openness and mercy in the whole Church and in our local community here in St. Theresa’s. As well in each region of our diocese a central church is designated to have a symbolic open Door of Mercy for all to enter. In the Fredericton area this regional Door of Mercy will be at St. Dunstan’s. Bishop Harris will open it at a Mass on Friday, December 18, Noon. All are invited to join us at that time. May we grow this year as a Church marked by mercy and openness to all.