The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
The Holy Door of Mercy
During the Holy Year of Mercy doors are to be opened in the Cathedrals of the world, doors of mercy. On December 8, the first Holy Door was opened by Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On the following Sunday, December 13, doors of mercy were opened at Cathedrals throughout the world, including our own Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This Door of Mercy will be open throughout the Holy Year of Mercy for pilgrims to enter the Cathedral, which is a house of mercy. God dwells here in his Sacraments and in his Word. He can be found in his Body, the Church, which exists to glorify him and to lead others to a merciful encounter with God.
You may be asking, “What is a Door of Mercy for?” Each day we pass through many doors: in our homes, our automobiles, our places of work and recreation. Most of the time we are simply passing through, in and out, without even thinking about the door. A Holy Door is different. Rather than just simply passing through this door, it exists to help us “pass over”, to experience the grace of conversion, a significant change in the direction of our lives.
God has been opening doors throughout all of history: He opened the door of Noah’s ark, to save mankind from the waters of the flood (Gn 6:16); the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites, to free them from slavery (Ex 12:22); the door of the Temple in Jerusalem, to enter into God’s glory and worship (Ez 43:4); the prison door of Peter’s cell, to save him from impending death. All these moments in the Bible point to the truth that Jesus himself is the door to our salvation. Christ said, “I am the door” (Jn 10:9). The Wood of the Cross was watered by the Blood of Christ and burst forth as the Tree of Life. When Christ opened wide his arms on the Cross, he opened the door to our salvation. When his disciples went to the tomb on Easter morning, they found an open door – the stone had been rolled away.
During this Holy Year of Mercy God invites us not simply to pass through a door, but to “pass-over” from sin to mercy, from darkness to light, from isolation to communion with God and his Church. When we “pass-over” this threshold, we encounter Christ who is the merciful face of the Father. Just as when we turn the door knob in order to enter the door of a house or a room, when we enter the Holy Door it is Christ’s hand that we take, He leads us. It is his voice we hear, inviting us to be Merciful like the Father.
"The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination."
Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus #14
During holy years of jubilee, pilgrims have been invited to make pilgrimage to holy sites in order to gain the plenary indulgence associated with the jubilee. The most notable jubilee pilgrimage destinations are to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome. Unlike other jubilee years, Pope Francis has asked that every Cathedral throughout the world become a pilgrimage destination with a Holy Door of mercy. In so doing, Pope Francis is making pilgrimage more possible. Pilgrims and pilgrimage groups are encouraged to journey to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for this special moment of grace and spiritual renewal.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
The Jubilee Indulgence
On April 11, 2015 His Holiness, Pope Francis issued the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, establishing a year of Mercy beginning on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and ending on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Subsequently, on September 1, 2015, His Holiness, Pope Francis issued a letter to Most Reverend Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization granting an Indulgence to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
In light of this Letter, in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Christian Faithful may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence as follows:
the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Massachusetts at any time during the year of Mercy; OR
on the occasion of the Vigil Mass on the Eve of the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, December 31, 2015 at Saint Clement Shrine, Boston, Massachusetts.
His Holiness, Pope Francis has decreed that those of the Christian Faithful for whom it is impossible to enter the Holy Door:
The sick, the elderly and those confined to their homes, by living with faith and joyful hope during their trials, may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence by receiving Communion or attending the Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various forms of media;
Those incarcerated may obtain the Jubilee Indulgence by chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell, signify for them the passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom;
Those who perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The Holy Father states, “Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one;” and
The deceased. The Holy Father reminds us that we may gain the Jubilee Indulgence not only for ourselves, but for the deceased as well. He states: “…as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.”
All members of the Christian Faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston who are truly contrite and moved by the spirit of charity, who wish to seek this indulgence are to make a profession of faith and observe the usual conditions:
—Sacramentally confess their sins;
—Participate in the celebration of, and receive, the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy;
—Pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope.
While the three conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the indulgenced work, it is fitting that Communion be received, the prayer for the intention of the Holy Father, and the profession of faith be said on the same day.
A single sacramental confession suffices for several plenary indulgences but receiving Communion and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father are required for each indulgence.
This Decree will be effective from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.