Door of Mercy at St Stephen’s Cathedral
Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, “as a special time for the Church, a time when witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective:” This Jubilee of Mercy will run from 8th December 2015 until 20th November 2016. As Pope Francis announced in April of this year: “The Holy Year will open on 8th December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s action from the very beginning of the history of mankind. After the sin of Adam and eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. And so he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive. I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope. On the following Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome – that is the Basilica of Saint John Lateran – will be opened. … On the same Sunday, I will announce that in every local church, at the cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular area – … will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. … Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Thus the Jubilee will be celebrated both in Rome and in the Particular Churches as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.”
A holy door has been used since the fifteenth century as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. Often these rituals are associated with prayer, pilgrimage, sacrifice, and confession.
The Holy Door, or Door of Mercy at the Cathedral of St Stephen will be the door that opens out between the Cathedral and Chapel. The Door will be visible as the Door of Mercy, and in accord with the Pope’s proclamation, will be opened by Archbishop Coleridge immediately prior to the 10am mass on December 13th.
From this Sunday the door that will become the Door of Mercy will be closed until the Ritual of Opening by the Archbishop on the Third Sunday of Advent.
Fr David Pascoe