During this Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis has opened the Holy Door of Mercy to all and encouraged diocese across the globe to open Doors of Mercy in their Cathedrals as well as new places that reach those on the margins of society. I highly recommend to put walking through a Door of Mercy on your New Year’s resolution list. Walking through a Door of Mercy is like taking a shower for your soul, and you begin again as clean of sin as a new born baby. Pope Francis has granted all who walk through the Door of Mercy a plenary indulgence.
What is a Holy Door?
A Holy Door is an entrance located in the Major basilicas in Rome. These doors are typically sealed by mortar and cement but are opened during Jubilee years. Many faithful pilgrims will enter through these doors to gain the plenary indulgences of that Jubilee year. During this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, many other Holy Doors will be opened in churches and cathedrals across the world, although those doors have not been sealed. (Franciscan Media)
What is an Indulgence?
Jubilee years also entail the granting of indulgences. According to the Code of Canon Law, an indulgence is a “”remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”
In Pope Francis’s statements on the Year of Mercy, he said, “”Hence, to live the indulgence of the Holy Year means to approach the Father’s mercy with the certainty that his forgiveness extends to the entire life of the believer. To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption, so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere. Let us live this Jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful indulgence.” (Franciscan Media)
To Gain a Plenary Indulgence by walking through a Door of Mercy:
- It is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
- A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
- have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
- have sacramentally confessed their sins;
- receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required); and
- pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
- It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an Our Father and a Hail Mary are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
- For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
- Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
– Adapted from the decree on the plenary indulgence for the 2000 Jubilee Year.
3 Doors of Mercy
I have been privileged to attend the opening of three Doors of Mercy near my home in Virginia.
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle — official Door of Mercy for the Archdiocese of Washington
The first Door of Mercy I attended the opening was in Washington, D.C. at the beautiful Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Washington. I was blessed to attend with the Nation Minister of my Secular Franciscan Order in America, Jan Parker, O.F.S. It was a beautiful service led by Cardinal Donald Weurl, and he best describes the Year of Mercy and Door of Mercy in the following video below:
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — official Door of Mercy for America
The second Door of Mercy I attended was at the National Shrine on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with Cardinal Donald Weurl leading a beautiful Mass.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart — official Door of Mercy for the Diocese of Richmond
The third Door of Mercy I attended was at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond, Virginia. It was a beautiful Mass led by Bishop Francis DiLorenzo. At the end of the Mass a woman approach and said she had not been to Mass for many years and ask as she was crying “Is every Mass this beautiful?” We responded with a positive “YES” and invited her to return. These are the people that Pope Francis is trying to reach — those on the margins — and these Doors are Mercy are not just open to Catholics, but everyone of good will. It was a very moving homily also from Bishop DiLorenzo who quoted from President Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address, and saying that even though the Civil War was 150 years ago, we are still working to “bind the nation’s wounds” of racial injustice and need the mercy of God.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” (Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address March 4, 1865)
Find a Door of Mercy near You!