Open wide the Holy Doors to mercy and the passage to salvation.
Pope Francis will commence the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and followed in churches worldwide on Dec. 13.
The pope has called for every part of the world to join in unity and charity and “to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action,” he wrote in “Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of Mercy”).
In the Diocese of Charleston, ceremonies to open the Holy Doors will be held in each of the seven deaneries and the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina/Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree.
Bishop Guglielmone said the nine station churches should keep people actively engaged in the Jubilee of Mercy for the entire year by hosting special prayer services, occasions for the sacrament of penance, and more.
According to tradition, the Holy Door represents the path to a new and eternal life that was opened to humanity by Jesus. During jubilee years, which are called by the Church every 25-50 years, people have the opportunity to receive blessings and pardon from God, and to earn a plenary indulgence — the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. It is offered for pilgrims who also fulfill certain other requirements: receiving the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist, visits and prayers for the intention of the pope, and performing acts such as visiting the sick.
This is the first holy year to celebrate the attribute of God that is most exalted — mercy — and reflects Pope Francis’ particular message of compassion and pardon.
“Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy,” the pope wrote in “Misericordiae Vultus”.
Michael Martocchio, director of catechesis and Christian initiation, said people tend to confuse mercy with justice or love, or to see it only in terms of forgiveness. He explained that mercy is all of that and more. He called on people to give generously of their time, talents and treasure; and to work to reconcile conflicts in their own lives and in the larger community.
“Be peacemakers,” he said. The struggles of our world with fanaticism, violence and terrorism are certainly factors to address during this jubilee.
“The pope is trying to show the world a different way by stressing mercy and compassion,” said Father Jeffrey Kirby, who is the host of an eight-part formation program called “Doors of Mercy” that is being used by parishes during the jubilee year.
“Pope Francis has especially asked that everyone strive to show the traditional works of mercy, which include prayer, teaching others, feeding the hungry, and visiting the imprisoned,” Father Kirby said.
Holy Doors in the diocese
The times and locations of Holy Door ceremonies are as follows:
The Oratory in Rock Hill, Oratorian Father Fabio Refosco, noon Mass.
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, 11:15 a.m. Mass.
St. Michael in Murrells Inlet, Father Edward Fitzgerald, 11 a.m. Mass.
St. Anthony in Florence, Father Robert Morey, 11 a.m. Mass.
St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton, Msgr. Ronald Cellini, 12:30 p.m., between the English and Spanish Masses.
St. Peter in Columbia, Father Gary Linsky, 11 a.m. Mass.
St. Mary in Greenville, Father Jay Scott Newman, 11 a.m. Mass.
St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken, Father Gregory Wilson, 6:30 p.m., meet in front of the church for a candlelight procession to the old St. Mary’s on Park Avenue.
The Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina/Our Lady of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, Father Stanley Smolenski, spma, 1 p.m. Mass.