Sunday, January 17, 2016
Most of us have probably heard that Pope Francis has declared this year a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The year, which began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December the 8th, is a call for each of us to deepen our gratitude for the loving mercy of God.
Why a year of mercy? Pope Francis envisions a year when people will become more merciful in their own lives and bring God’s mercy to others. The Holy Father asks Christ to pour out his mercy on the entire cosmos. He writes, “How much I desire that the year… will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!”
A Holy Year provides an opportunity for each of us to participate in and experience the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. After having confessed our sins and received absolution, we may also receive a “plenary indulgence,” which lessens the effects of our sins here on earth. Pope Francis explains, “To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church.”
Every Catholic is invited to participate in a holy pilgrimage during this year, either by visiting Rome itself, or by visiting and passing through the doors of specially designated parishes in their own diocese. Here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe we may participate in the pilgrimage by visiting one or all of nine parishes. In Albuquerque those parishes are the Shrine of the Little Flower – St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, the Shrine of St. Bernadette, Sanctuario de San Martin de Porres, and Santa Maria de La Vid Abbey.
What’s the significance of “holy doors?” Opening and walking through a holy door invites us to recall that the doorway to salvation is Jesus himself. Christ is now open and waiting for every person. During the Holy Year of Mercy, we are called to pray that our own personal shut doors of sin and temptation may be opened and that we open our hearts to everyone, especially those on the fringes of society.
This year of mercy is an invitation to experience the awesome power of God’s mercy at work in our own lives. Make the journey and walk through a Holy Door this year. Give yourself the gifts that only Christ can give – the gifts of grace, salvation and peace.
If you would like to learn more about the Holy Doors or would like the list of all nine parishes designated as sites for pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy in this diocese, pick up the “Holy Doors” brochure available in our parish lobby.