Basilica to open Holy Door for Jubilee Year of Mercy
Courtney Becker | Thursday, December 10, 2015
With the opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at 10 a.m. Mass this Sunday, Notre Dame will kick off a year dedicated to spreading God’s mercy throughout the world.
The opening of the Holy Door, also called the Door of Mercy, marks the local beginning of an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis announced in his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee last April. The official beginning of the Year of Mercy in the Vatican was observed on Tuesday with the opening of the St. Peter’s Basilica’s Holy Door.
Fr. Peter Rocca, rector for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, said this is an Extraordinary Jubilee Year because it falls out of the usual pattern of Jubilee Years, which now occur every 25 years.
“[Pope Francis] chose Dec. 8 because it is the 50th anniversary of the closing days of the Second Vatican Council,” Rocca said. “I think Pope Francis sees this as a very crucial time in the history not only of the Church, but of our world, in which there is so much hatred and revenge and acts of terrorism and murder. [It highlights] how important forgiveness and mercy are in our world today, where I think many people would be inclined to revenge and [take] an eye for an eye, that sort.”
Rocca said the Pope’s declaration of a Year of Mercy is a call to be mindful of recognizing God’s mercy in our own lives and showing mercy to others.
“Pope Francis envisions a year when people become more merciful in their own lives and bringing God’s mercy to others,” Rocca said. “The Pope asks that each of us celebrate this year by showing to others the mercy that God constantly extends to all of us in various ways. … [A] wonderful way of experiencing and practicing works of mercy is by looking at the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy … which are kind of concrete ways of putting mercy into our daily lives during this year.”
Another way of carrying out the mission of a Year of Mercy is to take a pilgrimage to a Holy Door, Rocca said.
“We’re very blessed in this diocese to have three Holy Doors. One is the Cathedral in Fort Wayne, the second is the Cathedral here in South Bend, and the third is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart,” he said. “The fact that we have three Doors is probably exceptional rather than the rule. Every diocese would have at least one Holy Door. Part of this whole thing is so people would go on pilgrimage.
“It takes a little extra effort to signal that they want to make the extra effort to really enter into this Year of Mercy with fully good intentions and to kind of go out of their way to do it.”
Rocca also said one may experience God’s mercy by listening carefully to His word, and this year’s liturgy holds a particular significance for a Year of Mercy.
“In this liturgical year, we will be hearing from the Gospel of St. Luke, who is often times called the Evangelist of Mercy,” he said. “So we will hear wonderful stories that he tells like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, all kinds of stories where people have mercy on others in need, in whatever way that might be.”
The Church will be offering specific opportunities for members of the Church to receive God’s mercy during the Jubilee Year, Rocca said.
“There will also be an initiative that the Pope is encouraging all Churches to participate in, and it’s called the 24 Hours for the Lord, which Pope Francis has encouraged every diocese to celebrate on the Thursday and Friday of the third week of Lent,” he said. “He’s asking, the Pope, the we have the Basilica open for 24 hours, and one or two confessors would be available for the entire time, day and night … [to give] the sacrament of Reconciliation.”
Rocca said in addition to what the Pope hopes the world will take away from this Year of Mercy, he hopes Notre Dame can grow as a community in the coming year.
“If we take this to heart, then it should … help us be a better community of believers, of people who try to live the life of Jesus Christ, to follow his Gospel, to treat especially those who may be different from the way we look or are with a kind of respect and mercy that Jesus showed to everyone that he met,” Rocca said. “I think there are many, many ways in which we can do that as members of the ND community, and I think we can do it better than we do at times.
“How can we become more attentive to the needs of our brothers and sisters [who] are less fortunate than ourselves? That’s fulfilling the Corporal Works of Mercy, and I think that’s something that Pope Francis would be very interested in seeing take place at places like this.”