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Archbishop: Holy doors ‘symbol of the open door to paradise’

December 17, 2015
Catholic San Francisco

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone ritually opened the main entrance to St. Mary’s Cathedral as a symbolic Holy Door, and 500 faithful who had gathered in the plaza for the ceremony filed into the church Dec. 13 for an Advent Sunday vespers service to inaugurate the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in the archdiocese.

“This is the Lord’s gate; let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness,” the archbishop said as the door opened, enacting a ritual taking place in dioceses throughout the world to begin the Holy Year designated by Pope Francis.

In his homily, the archbishop said the cathedral Holy Door and others to be opened in the archdiocese during the Year of Mercy should serve as “a symbol of the open door to paradise, God’s Kingdom, to which God gives us access through the death of His Son; a reminder that God’s mercy triumphs over judgment if we open our minds and hearts to the grace He wishes to lavish upon us.”

The archbishop said it is appropriate that the Holy Year should begin during Advent, “when we prepare to celebrate the moment in which God’s mercy took on a human face, the face of Jesus of Nazareth, in the mystery of the Incarnation.”

The human race was locked out and cast out of paradise by the fall of our first parents, but Christ came to reopen the door “so that we can regain access to paradise, come in from the dark and the cold – the dark and cold of sin and all of its gloomy consequences – and gain the protection of God’s grace from all of those harmful elements.”

As with every Jubilee Year in the history of the church, this year presents an opportunity to gain the indulgence of God’s mercy, the archbishop said.

Faithful passing through designated holy doors may obtain the Holy Year Indulgence, under the usual conditions: freedom from all attachment to sin, including venial sin; sacramental confession; reception of Holy Communion; prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.

“Through a special concession, Pope Francis has also granted to bishops the privilege of an Apostolic Blessing with a plenary indulgence at the opening of the Holy Door of Mercy, which I will impart at the conclusion of this vespers service,” the archbishop said.


Year of Mercy

Events and resources

Opening of the Holy Door at San Quentin State Prison, Dec. 24

Opening of the Holy Door at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Jan. 10

Opening of the Holy Door at St. Raphael Mission Church, San Rafael, Jan. 10

OSV Newsweekly article on Year of Mercy indulgences: http://bit.ly/1TLxRqn

Beginning in January, the archdiocese will observe monthly themes based on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and themes of the Year of Mercy. The corporal works of mercy are kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs. The spiritual works of mercy are acts of compassion by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

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