JUBILEE OF MERCY WINDING DOWN: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY
We might easily ask at some point: Where has the year gone? So many special events and audiences and Jubilee moments and the papal Mercy Friday surprise visits to the elderly, to children, to prisoners, to the sick, etc. The Pope called for this Year of Mercy on March 13, 2015, the second anniversary of his election.
Just a brief look at this past weekend, the penultimate Jubilee weekend:
SATURDAY in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis enthusiastically thanked some 600 of the total 4,000 Holy Year volunteers who assisted pilgrims from across the globe during the Jubilee: “You have been fantastic! I thank you,…. for your precious service that has allowed so many pilgrims to give life to this experience of faith in a positive way. Also Saturday: Pope Francis presided over the last special Saturday audience for the Jubilee of Mercy during which he called on Christians to witness to God’s mercy by being inclusive.
SUNDAY, as Holy Doors were closed in Rome at three papal basilicas, and in the dioceses and many shrines of the world, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for some 6,000 poor and homeless people from countries in Europe and Africa. In his homily, he said: “We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news.”
Pope Francis had held a special audience on Friday with over 4,000 poor people who he said “are at the heart of the Gospel, …concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons.”
It was the poor who are in the heart, mind and words of Pope Francis who were seated in places of honor at a concert for them on Saturday and in the front pews during Sunday’s Mass.
On a personal note: Saturday I went to the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls as, of all the astonishing things, I realized I had not gone through the Holy Door here! I had time to explore this magnificent church once again, up close and personal, to take a few photos with my phone and to say the rosary.
You may have seen my Joan’s Rome Live video on Facebook about this mini pilgrimage, and here are some photos.
The very first photo shows, on the left side of the picture, one part of the Holy Door that pilgrims walked through this Jubilee year: That door was closed yesterday. On the right side of the photo is what is the back of the Holy Door that you see when you are inside the church. These will be closed and sealed against each other until the next scheduled Ordinary Holy Year in 2025.
The center door of the basilica-
Some interior shots, including the tomb of St. Paul –
Some exterior shots as you exit the basilica –
Some current excavation work –
The Pope is always the first person to open a Holy Door on St. Peter’s Basilica, and other Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are opened after that. At the end of a Holy Year, the reverse is true: Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are closed before the Pope closes St. Peter’s Holy Door. This was also clear in the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy.
Francis closes the Holy Door of St. Peter’s on Sunday, November 20, Feast of Christ the King, a feast that was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 at the end of the Holy Year of 1925.
Vatican Radio had the following story on the closing yesterday, Sunday, November 13 of the Holy Doors at three papal basilicas – St. John Lateran, St Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.
Representing the Pope in the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls were the archpriests of the Basilicas, respectively: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló and Cardinal James Michael Harvey.
According to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year, many of them crossing the thresholds of the Holy Doors.
The opening of the door symbolically illustrates the concept that pilgrims are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee, and walking through the Holy Door they were able to receive a plenary indulgence.
During his homily for the Mass at St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini spoke about how the Holy Door, just closed, was a visible sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, a year in which we learned “once again” that the fate of the world is not in the hands of men, “but in the mercy of God.”
He said that meditating on God’s mercy this year we have learnt that mercy is not a sign of weakness or surrender, but the “strong, magnanimous,” radiation of the loving omnipotence of the Father, who “heals our weaknesses, raises us from our falls and urges us to do good.”
Cardinal Abril y Castelló pointed out that although the Holy Door is being closed, “God’s door of mercy is always open” and he urged the faithful to be strong in this certainty and become credible witnesses of mercy in the world.
And in his homily, Cardinal Harvey also referred to the solemn closing of the Basilica’s Holy Door saying that “at the same time, we open an inner door to the next stage of our journey of faith, hope and charity”.
During his Angelus reflections on Sunday Pope Francis also pointed out that Holy Doors were being closed across the world, signaling the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.
“On the one hand, he said, the Holy Year has urged us to keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Kingdom, and on the other, to build a future on earth, working to evangelize the present, so as to make it a time of salvation for all.”