The Year of Mercy has arrived just in time
The Holy Year of Mercy began on 8th December with the Holy Father opening the Holy Door, the occasion also marked the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.
Doors have always been highly significant in the Church, with the late-Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the former Archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica, explaining how “the door of a church marks the divide between the sacred and the profane, separating the church’s interior from the outside world.”
The significance of doors
Doors also symbolise Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel of John (10:9), Jesus said, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
The opening of the Holy Door provides an opportunity for penance and reconciliation showing Christ inviting those who have strayed from his flock back into the Church and welcome them with open arms.
The Holy Father has invited people from all over the world to embrace the virtues of mercy, forgiveness, care and compassion for their fellow people and especially those who are suffering.
Healing suffering and hatred throughout the world
The Year of Mercy comes at a time when the world is mired in turmoil. In recent years we have witnessed awful atrocities, terrorist attacks, people being displaced from their homes due to violence and war and world leaders finding themselves having to answer serious questions about dealing with those issues.
Pope Francis has spread the message of the mercy of God since becoming pope in March 2013 and has spoken about healing suffering and hatred throughout the world. He has also called for a radical commitment to the poor and those on the margins of society. The Holy Father has given strong support to refugees fleeing their war-torn countries, going as far to say that the rejection of them is an ‘act of war’.
Missionaries of Mercy
In the lead up to the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis announced that women who have had abortions could be offered God’s forgiveness by priests, although the act of abortion would remain a grave sin. He is also sending missionaries of mercy to all local churches to hear Confessions.
With the opening of the Holy Door and the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy we pray that Pope Francis’ merciful vision to heal the world from destruction, violence and suffering will be realised and that he will receive the support and help he needs to make it happen.
– This article by Nick Benson entitled “Year of Mercy has arrived just in time” was published in the Catholic Universe newspaper, issue 11 December 2015. For subscriptions please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link).