and Catholic News Service
Bishop Malooly will open the observance of the special jubilee Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Wilmington on Dec. 13. by opening the Holy Door at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Easton, Md.
The door opened by the bishop at the 10:30 a.m. Mass that Sunday in Easton will be one of eight the bishop has selected as Holy Doors at parishes in the diocese’s regional deaneries.
The seven other Holy Doors to be opened that day are at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington; St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greenville; Holy Spirit Church in New Castle; St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington; St. Margaret of Scotland in Glasgow; St. Ann Church in Bethany Beach; and Holy Cross Church in Dover.
“Our lives are a pilgrimage”
“All Catholics, who are physically able, are urged to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door during the jubilee year as a reminder that our lives are a pilgrimage, a journey to God,” said Bishop Malooly.
In Catholic tradition, Holy Doors represent the passage to salvation, which was opened to humanity by Jesus.
Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy during a penance service in Rome last March. He said the year would “make more evident” the church’s “mission to be a witness of mercy. … We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’” (Luke 6:36).
The pope will begin the church’s Year of Mercy by opening the Holy Door at St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.
On Dec. 13, Pope Francis will open an additional Holy Door at the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran, the same day dioceses throughout the world will open Holy Doors for Jubilee of Mercy pilgrims.
Pope Francis said he hoped that pilgrimages to churches with Holy Doors be journeys to conversion. “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
“Embrace God’s mercy”
Holy years usually are held every 25 years in the church; the last was the year 2000 jubilee. The years traditionally feature special celebrations and pilgrimages, calls for conversion and repentance, and the offer of opportunities to experience God’s grace through the sacraments, especially confession.
Extraordinary jubilee years, like the Year of Mercy, are less frequent, but offer Catholics the same opportunities for spiritual growth.
A Holy Door or “porta sancta” has been used by the church since the 15th century as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace.
In the words of Pope Francis, “There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into the life in communion with God: this is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation.”
A plenary indulgence, the remittance of all temporal punishment due to sin, is available to those who pass through a Holy Door during the jubilee year, as well as to those who perform one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
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Information about the Jubilee of Mercy is at a special Vatican website – www.im.va. Diocese of Wilmington events that are tied into the Jubilee of Mercy will be announced on the diocesan website – www.cdow.org.