March 22, 2015 – A View From the Rectory

 

Pope Francis continues to surprise and inspire. This past week while celebrating his second anniversary in the papacy he unexpectedly announced a Jubilee Year focused on one of the concepts he most often preaches: mercy. Beginning on December 8, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and ending on November 20, 2016, when the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe is celebrated, Francis will dedicate the Jubilee to the virtue of mercy.

When he became a bishop, Pope Francis chose the episcopal motto: “Miserando atque eligendo” (He looked at him with mercy and He chose him). During his sermon introducing the Jubilee he said that “no one can be excluded from the mercy of God.” The Holy Father emphasized that, “I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy,” and concluded that “it’s a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the Lord’s word: ‘Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful’ (cf. Lk 6:36).”

Pope holy door

I remember being in Rome in 2000 when Pope Saint John Paul II opened the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica to begin the last “Great Jubilee Year” which was likewise a celebration of the mercy of God and forgiveness of sins.

This door is only opened during the Holy Year and remains cemented shut the rest of the time. All four major Basilicas in Rome have a Holy Door: St. Peter’s, St. John the Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. The rite symbolizes the fact that the faithful are offered an “extraordinary path” towards salvation during the Jubilee. The Holy Doors of the other Basilicas are opened after the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica has been opened.

This symbolic rite of opening the Holy Door brings to light for me the consolation I experience each time I drive to Saint Casimir’s Church for Mass and see the front doors propped open, welcoming all. And now, at the Church of the Resurrection, I am grateful to the Knights of Columbus for providing us with doors to this church that reflect the dignity of their purpose.

The doors of the church, particularly the main doors, and the narthex, the space at the entrance to the church building, together form a threshold which people cross as they make the transition from the ordinary world to the worshipping community. They mark out a place where people begin their encounter of the Church at prayer and the place where the Church will formally welcome those who seek admission not just to the building but to the community of the Church.
Every Sunday this place of entry to the church is a place of welcome and greeting for the community.

May our church doors continue to reflect that we are people who gather to seek and to share the mercy of God.

Fr. Pete