“THE DOOR TO GOD’S MERCY IS NEVER CLOSED”
Amidst noticeably increased security measures, Pope Francis Wednesday presided at the general audience under overcast skies in a chilly St. Peter’s Square, dedicating the weekly catechesis to the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy. As this Jubilee approaches, he said of the December 8 opening, “today we consider the great open door of God’s mercy, symbolized by the Holy Doors which will open in Churches throughout the world” at the start of this Holy Year.
Francis explained that, “the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family encouraged families in a particular way to enter this door of mercy and to open the doors of their hearts to others. Jesus tells us that He stands knocking at our door, asking that we open it to Him. How important it is,” stressed the Pope, “for us to be good doorkeepers, capable of opening our doors and making our homes places of encounter and welcome, especially to our brothers and sisters in need!
And, said the Holy Father repeatedly, departing often from his prepared text, “Jesus also tells us that He Himself is the door that leads to salvation; if we pass through Him, we will find lasting security and freedom.”
In one such departure, he said, “If the door of God’s mercy is always open, even so must be the doors of our churches, the love of our communities, our parishes, our institutions, our dioceses, for when they are, we can all go out to bring this mercy of God [to those who most need it]. The Jubilee Year recalls the great door of God’s mercy, but also the small doors of our churches – open to let the Lord in – or to let the Lord out, who is often the prisoner of our structures, our selfishness, and of so many things.”
He referred several times to “porte blindate,” to armoured doors, saying there are too many of these reinforced doors today. “Please,” he said, “no reinforced doors at churches, everything open. The Church is the doorkeeper of the Lord’s home, the doorkeeper, not the owner of the Lord’s home.” This generated great applause.
Francis also had “words of gratitude to all doorkeepers – in our apartment buildings, in our civic institutions, in our churches. Thank you very much,” he said extemporaneously, “for you always welcome people with a smile, so that people feel welcome and happy in that house, in that church…”The Pope added, “We have to learn from these men and women who are the keepers of places of encounter and welcome in the city of man.”
At the end of the audience, as is customary, the Pope saluted several groups, including pilgrims belonging to Poland’s historic Solidarity movement, the Italian association of people affected by thalidomide, and pilgrims from across the Arabic-speaking world, especially from Lebanon and Syria.
“During the Jubilee of Mercy,” he said, “let Christian families make of the thresholds of their houses a sign of the mercy and welcome of God; let every Church be witness to the Mercy of the Heavenly Father, Who never closes the door of His pardon in the face of those who are repentant, and never treats us according to our deserts, but according to the immensity of His Mercy and Love.”
Greeting Arabic-speaking pilgrims, Francis said, “May the Lord bless you and protect you from evil.”
POPE FRANCIS’ LITURGICAL CALENDAR: DECEMBER 8-JANUARY 10
(VIS) – The Vatican today published the calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside in December 2015 and January 2016 (through the 10th). Here are the celebrations given by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff:
Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.
Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate.
Saturday 12: Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.
Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third Sunday of Advent. At 9.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.
Thursday 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At 9.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass (Midnight Mass).
Friday 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12 noon, “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.
Sunday 27: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for Families.
Thursday 31: Vigil of Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and Te Deum, in Thanksgiving for the past year.
Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. 49th World Peace Day. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.
Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.
Wednesday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.
Sunday 10: Sunday after the Epiphany: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel. Holy Mass and baptism of babies.
ST. PETER’S HOLY DOOR READIED FOR JUBILEE OPENING
A day after the Holy Door at St. John Lateran cathedral was readied for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, workers on Tuesday unbricked the inside wall of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s basilica that Pope Francis will open December 8.
The Recognitio ceremony took place on Tuesday evening and was led by the Basilica’s Cardinal Archpriest Angelo Comastri.
View of the Holy Door from inside the basilica (JFL photo)
After a procession and short prayer service led by Cardinal Comastri, workers began to carefully remove the wall, extracting a small, metal box which conserved mementos from the Great Jubilee of the year 2000.
The zinc box contained several documents certifying the closure of the Holy Door at the end of the last Holy Year. Also included were the keys that will allow Pope Francis to open the Holy Door, as well as the parchment deed, some bricks, and several commemorative medals.
Also present for the event were the Master of Ceremonies of St. Peter’s Basilica, Mons. Guido Marini, who received the documents and objects of the Recognitio ceremony, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.
The outside of St. Peter’s Holy Door (JFL photo was taken the day the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee was read):
Holy Doors of the four papal basilicas of Rome will be opened at the start of the Holy Year: St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
For the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has also asked for Holy Doors to be established at Rome’s Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, and the diocesan Caritas Hostel on Via Marsala. (Vatican Radio)