Pope Francis opens the Church's Holy Doors in the Vatican
JUBILEE OF MERCY
VATICAN: December 08, 2015
On the 8th of December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis pushed open the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica. A symbolic gesture to mark the opening of the Extraordinary Holy Year dedicated to Mercy. Holy Doors are only opened during a special year designated by a pope called a Jubilee Year.
This iteration will be a Jubilee of Mercy. The last Jubilee Year was in 2000.
Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, followed him through the Holy Doors of St. Peter's Basilica. The 88-year-old, rarely seen in public since his resignation in 2013, walked with a cane and the help of longtime aide. More than 50,000 people attended the ceremony.
One of the highlights of this Congress was the Statio Nationalis scheduled for the concluding day at St Pius. The participating dioceses made a pilgrimage to the Mata Valankani Shrine at Bhatebander, Uttan, which was followed by a Eucharistic Adoration. This gave the participants an opportunity to experience the faith and culture of the local community. There were more than 15 thousand people apart from the delegates participated in this program
What happens when Catholics walk through Holy Doors?
Walking through the Holy Doors means that you receive an indulgence, which is a lessening of the consequences attached to sin. According to the Catholic Church, when you sin, you must go to confession and you are forgiven. But forgiveness only applies to the guilt of your sin; there may still be consequences of your sin that you may have to pay for in this life or after you die. An indulgence is a way to lessen that penalty.
As an analogy, if someone commits a crime, he is sentenced to jail time as punishment. He may be sorry for his crime and apologize, but he still must serve his sentence and deal with the consequences of his crime. To receive a full indulgence (called a plenary indulgence), you must:
1. Walk through the Holy Doors.
2. Go to confession.
3. Receive communion.
4. Pray for the intentions of the pope
In another first, Francis will directly appoint special missionaries from all over the world who will receive from the pope the power to forgive sins usually reserved to the Holy See. Those sins are:
1. Desecration of the Eucharist.
2. Absolution of accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment.
3. Ordination of a bishop without the pope's approval.
4. Violation of the sacrament of confession (a priest divulging what he has been told in confession).
5. Physical violence against the Roman Pontiff
Full text: Pope’s homily inaugurating Year of Mercy
Pope Francis is opening the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica to mark the start of the Jubilee year
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act, so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28).
The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, faith and abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan. Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfillment.
This Extraordinary Holy 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 each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.
Today, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan.