An Teaghlach Naofa
       
 

Last Call for The Holy Door

“This is the Lord’s own gate, where the just may enter”(Ps. 118.20)

St. Eugene’s Cathedral stands high against the skyline overlooking Derry city, a beacon of hope to many through former years of violence and injustice. It was St. Columba who first brought the faith to Derry city and it remains steadfast. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God will stand forever” (Is 40.8). At the main entrance to St Eugene’s, the Door of Mercy speaks of God’s wish to pour out the balm of His mercy “like the morning dew” on the people of this city and across the diocese. To walk through the Holy Doors, represents walking from a life of sin into a new life of grace in Christ, from darkness into light. By walking through The Holy Door, we demonstrate our need of God’s mercy in our lives and our willingness to be transformed by His great gift of mercy. Today, in the cathedral, a beautiful baby boy is receiving the light of Christ in baptism, a light entrusted to parents and godparents, to be kept burning brightly.


St Patrick
Pope Francis opens The Holy Door (Porta Sancta) in St. Peter’s Basilica, Roma on 8 Dec 2015
at the inauguration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy


The Holy Door at St. Eugene’s, is one of approximately 50 Holy Doors in Ireland (see list of The Holy Doors below), and one of an estimated 10,000 Holy Doors around the world opened last December for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has decreed at least one Holy Door in every Diocese worldwide so as all can experience a true encounter with the mercy of God - an amazing grace for the world, unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church. In the last century, there have been two Extraordinary Jubilee Years, in 1933 (Pope Pius X1) and 1983 (St. John Paul) , anniversaries of Jesus’ death on the cross when Holy Doors were opened in St Peter’s and the three basilicas in Rome – St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul’s outside the walls and in the Basilica of The Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The first Extraordinary Year of Mercy was in 1518 when Pope Leo X proclaimed it to help Poland in a war against the Turks. In the fourth century, in Emperor Constantine’s reign, Christians could claim sanctity and immunity from punishments by crossing the threshold of the main doorway of St. John Lateran in Rome. Jubilee Years are celebrated every 25 years by the Church, the last great Jubilee in 2000, proclaimed by St. John Paul. In Rome, the age old tradition of crossing the threshold of the Holy Door on your knees, as a mark of humility, is maintained.

The first Holy Door opened in this Extraordinary Jubilee was by Pope Francis in Notre Dame Cathedral, Bangui, in The Central African Republic, a land that has suffered for many years from war. Pope Francis prayed for the gift of peace for all peoples of the world suffering from war. There is a Holy Door in many places ravaged by war and injustice: St. Francis’ Church in Aleppo, The Holy Family Church in Gaza City, Erbil in Iraq, Tripoli in Libya, Kharkiv in the Ukraine. In Gaza City, where people continue to live under siege, the parish priest said the opening of the Door of Mercy is like “a glass of fresh water for the thirsty, a time of appraisal and commitment to courageously continue following the way paved by the Gospel”. In China, 10,000 underground catholics attended the opening of The Holy Door in Zhengding and in the Diocese of Erbil in Iraq, every parish church has a Holy Door to support persecuted Christians in making their pilgrimage to The Holy Door. The two large bronze panels on The Holy Door (Porta Sancta) in St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, were donated on behalf of Swiss catholics, in thanksgiving to God for saving Switzerland from war. Our world needs peace and protection from war and needs the mercy of God now more than ever.

Pope Francis tells us “The Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter them”, as in the parable of The Prodigal Son. Pope Francis wishes that “the Jubilee Indulgence be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and testimony to it be ever more effective”. In this special year, God indulgences us with His love and calls everyone to make a pilgrimage to a Door of Mercy, as a sign of their deep desire for true conversion, and to obtain from Him the incredible gift of the Jubilee Indulgence”. Pope Francis tells us, “It is important 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, with a prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and for the entire world”. When we receive the gift of the Indulgence, all stain of sin is removed and all time due for atonement of our sins in purgatory cancelled. Our souls are restored to their baptismal state. How great is our God.

Pope Francis also considers those for whom it is impossible to enter The Holy Door, especially the sick, and elderly who are housebound. For the sick, continuing to live their faith through suffering, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through various means of communication, will be for them the means of the Jubilee Indulgence. Many nursing homes are holding special events for the Year of Mercy. Some children’s hospitals have Doors of Mercy. Also, the Holy Father has decreed that prisoners may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence in the chapels of prisons and that their cell door may represent their door of Mercy. And for each of us, visiting the sick and the people in prison, are corporal works of mercy.

Jesus told St. Faustina “all souls are to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My mercy, because I want to save them all. On The Cross, the fountain of My mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls – no one have I excluded (429)”. One of the relics to be venerated in the closing of The Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica on 20th November next month, is the relic of this lance that pierced Him. God told St. Faustina “My mercy has passed into souls through the divine-human Heart of Jesus as a ray from the sun passes through crystal” (528). Jesus said, “My delight is to act in a human soul and to fill it with my Mercy” (133). Jesus wants us to approach His mercy, again He said to St. Faustina, "I am love and mercy itself - let no soul fear to draw near Me, even though its sins be as scarlet - My Mercy is greater than your sins, and those of the entire world".

We can also receive the gift of the Jubilee indulgence daily, for a Holy Soul, if we fulfil the sacramental requirements and prayers i.e.: confession (every 20 days in this Holy Year, usually every 8 days in a Jubilee Year), Holy Communion, pray the Apostle’s Creed, pray the Holy Father’s intentions and perform a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, or act of penance or act of piety e.g. Stations of The Cross, Holy hour, public rosary in a church. Pope Francis said, “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain The Jubilee Indulgence”. Of the Holy Souls, Pope Francis says, “The Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound by them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharist celebration, we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful face of the Father free them from every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in unending beatitude”. In November, the month of the Holy Souls, we can gain a plenary indulgence daily for a Holy Soul until the 20th November in this Jubilee Year. Jesus said to St. Faustina, “Write this for the many souls who are often worried because they do not have the material means with which to carry out an act of mercy. Yet spiritual mercy is more meritorious and is within the grasp of every soul. If a soul does not exercise mercy somehow or other, it will not obtain mercy on the day of judgement. Oh, if only souls knew how to gather eternal treasure for themselves, they would not be judged, for they forestall My judgement with their mercy (1317)”.

St Faustina, was taken to heaven, hell and purgatory by her guardian angel. On purgatory St. Faustina writes, “In a moment I was in a misty place, full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames that were touching them did not touch me at all…I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in purgatory. The souls call her The Star of the Sea. She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk to them some more but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of the prison of suffering and I heard an interior voice which said ‘My mercy does not want this, but my justice demands it’. Since that time I am in close communion with the suffering souls”(20). St. Faustina, like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, often had visits from The Holy Souls. In her diary St. Faustina writes, “Today there was a procession to the cemetery, as the procession was returning to the chapel, my soul felt the presence of many souls. I understood the great justice of God, how each one had to pay off the debt to the last cent” (1375). The gift of the Jubilee Indulgence cancels that debt and gives us an opportunity to start afresh. On another occasion St. Faustina, writes, “I understood that I was to go to the chapel and there pray and gain indulgences. The next day during Holy Mass, I saw three white doves soaring from the altar toward heaven. I understood that not only three souls that I saw had gone to heaven, but also many others who died beyond the confines of our own institute. O how good and merciful is the Lord (748)”. On praying for indulgences for The Holy Souls, Jesus said to St. Faustina, “Today bring Me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution for My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice (1226)”.

Across Ireland, and the world, many events have been organised to celebrate the Year of Mercy and to link in with specific Jubilee days celebrated in St. Peter’s in Rome e.g. 24 hours for the Lord, the Jubilee for priests and Jubilee for the sick. Many Churches with a Holy Door have done great work in promoting The Year of Mercy and the gift of the Jubilee Indulgence to the faithful. The Diocese of Salford in England have a Mercy Bus travelling out to meet people with confession available on the bus and a mobile Holy Door for schools in the diocese. In some churches, The Holy Door is open 24 hours a day, with perpetual adoration. The Diocese of Fall River in the US have a monthly radio play spot inviting people to The Holy Door. Here in Ireland, Emmanuel House of Providence in Clonfert, a wonderful fountain of grace in the heart of Ireland to whom many come to the sacrament of confession and to drink of The Living Water, are doing great work in promoting The Holy Door. On 6th November, Pope Francis will lead a special Jubilee Day for mercy for prisoners from St. Peter’s Basilica and many times during his pontificate he has visited prisoners. There will also be a special day in Emmanuel House in Clonfert on the 6th November to pray for The Holy Souls when people from all over Ireland will travel to unite in prayer. The 6th November is also the feast day of the Irish Saints and we should each consider making a novena to the Irish Saints to free our country from the slavery of sin. St. Faustina was told by Jesus to make a novena of The Litany of the Saints, for her homeland.

As the Year of Mercy draws to a close, it is time to give thanks to God for the many graces He has bestowed on us during this beautiful gift of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year. Yet, incredibly, many practising catholics, have yet to learn of The Holy Door or don’t know how to receive the gift of The Jubilee Indulgence. In this last month, let each of us go out and encourage everyone to make a pilgrimage to The Holy Door and not miss out on this amazing gift. Let us tell everyone about the Door of Mercy, the Door of Great Pardon. Imagine, if there was door in every Diocese you could walk through and your home mortgage would be cleared, your car payments cancelled, all loans cancelled? People would be queuing up for miles around! Yet the Jubilee Indulgence cancels out all debt owing on our souls, it’s a clean start, our souls are renewed to our baptismal state. How we share that with others, especially those in our own families and friends, may seem challenging, however in the words of St. John Paul – “Be Not Afraid”. There is no better time for every family in Ireland to “open the doors to Christ”. Let us also pray for those who are not baptised and all those who have chosen to leave the sheepfold. A friend who has yet to be baptised describes The Holy Door as The Sunshine Door. Jesus is also very clear about souls that are living in mortal sin. To St. Faustina, he said “My daughter, know without doubt…mortal sin drives me out a soul, and nothing else (1181)”.

Let us encourage priests in our parishes to preach more than ever on The Holy Door and the Gift of The Jubilee Indulgence in this final month of The Year of Mercy and let us continue to beg God’s mercy on our homeland. Jesus said to St. Faustina “My daughter, do not tire of proclaiming My mercy. In this way you will refresh this heart of mine, which burns with a flame of pity for sinners. Tell my priests that hardened sinners will repent on hearing their words when they speak of My unfathomable mercy, about the compassion I have for them in my heart. To priests who proclaim and extol My Mercy, I will give wondrous power; I will anoint their words and touch the hearts of those to whom they speak (1521)”. As the Year of Mercy draws to a close, many parishes are organising events for the last month: all- night vigils, another “24 hours for the Lord” to bring people back to confession, novenas of Mercy and novenas for The Holy Souls. What is happening in your parish or in your local primary or secondary school? If you are in a prayer group or youth group maybe you can organise a final effort for The Holy Door?

A list of The Holy Doors in Ireland, are given below. Each Diocese has prayer resources to tap into and materials can be downloaded from the Vatican website at www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va. Posters with a list of The Holy Doors in Ireland and bookmark cards on how to attain the gift of the Jubilee Indulgence together with Pope Francis’s Jubilee Prayer and the list of works of corporal and spiritual works of mercy are also available at www.anteaghlachnaofa.ie, you can order these for free for next day delivery at info@anteaghlachnaofa.ie. Maybe you can share a picture of The Holy Door in your Diocese on facebook or twitter and invite others and provide them with the correct information on how to receive the gift of The Jubilee Indulgence? Encourage family and friends who are away from home to make sure to visit The Holy Door nearest to them and fulfil the requirements for the Gift of The Indulgence; don’t let any of your family miss out on this amazing grace for their own souls and the souls of loved ones who have gone before us, waiting to be released from purgatory.

On 20th November, Pope Francis will close The Holy Door of Mercy in St. Peter’s and end The Year of Mercy. May each of us who have made a pilgrimage to a Holy Door be more merciful like the Father, continue to live with mercy in our hearts and continue on the right path through regular confession, Holy mass and reading the Word of God. And let us continue to trust in God’s mercy and beg His mercy on our homeland and pray for every family in Ireland that each may enter, and remain, in the sheepfold.

Tickets to the closing ceremony of The Holy Door in St. Peter’s are available online for groups. There will also be a Closing of The Holy Door ceremony in each Diocese from 13th November. The gift of The Jubilee Indulgence continues to be available until 20th November ’16.

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through Me, will be safe”.

Email for correspondence info@anteaghlachnaofa.ie

 

The Holy Doors of Ireland
For a list of Holy Doors across Ireland remaining open to 20th November click here »

For a list of Cathedrals and Churches in Ireland with The Holy Doors in Ireland and how to receive the gift of the Jubilee Indulgence
To download the poster – click here »

Poster for The Holy Doors of Ireland and The Gift of The Indulgence
To download the poster – click here »


Jubilee Prayer of Mercy Bookmark
Bookmark for the Year of Mercy
Download a two page PDF » or view a JPG of the front » and a JPG of the back »
To order posters and bookmarks email info@anteaghlachnaofa.ie


References

1. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis according to which an indulgence is granted to the faithful on the occasion of The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150901_lettera-indulgenza-giubileo-misericordia.html

2. Misericordiae Vultus. Bull of Indication of The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis, April 2015
w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco_bolla_20150411_misericordiae-vultus.html

3. Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. Divine Mercy In My Soul. Krakow, Poland.

4. The Gift of The Indulgence. Apostolic Penitentiary. Rome. 29 June 2000
www.vatican.va/roman_curia/tribunals/apost_penit/documents/rc_trib_appen_pro_20000129_indulgence_en.html

 
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