Now that we have experienced the sealing off of our Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy Holy Door and are anticipating opening it is a pilgrimage site on December 13, I thought I would give you some more teaching on the “theology” of a holy door. The following is an excerpt from a document the Diocese give me in preparation for the holy door:
A holy door or porta sancta has been used since the fifteenth century as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. Often these rituals are associated with prayer, pilgrimage, sacrifice, confession, and indulgences.
But the door finds meaning only when the believer associates the door with Christ. Jesus is the Door! In the words of Pope Francis, “There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into the life of communion with God: this is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation. To him alone can the words of the Psalmist be applied in full truth: ‘This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter’ (Ps 118:20).”
Saint John Paul II offers a similar exhortation: “To focus on the door is to recall the responsibility of every believer to cross its threshold. To pass through that door means to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; it is to strengthen faith in him in order to live the new life which he has given us. It is a decision which presumes freedom to choose and also the courage to leave something behind, in the knowledge that what is gained is divine life [cf. Mt 13:44-46]” (Saint John Paul II, Incarnationis Mysterium, 8, in the year 2000).
John’s gospel clearly depicts this relationship between Jesus and us. “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:7-10).
It is fitting that a Holy Door be situated within a church building. The door of the Church is the ianua ecclesia – “the silent witness to all the moments of our lives” (USCCB, About the Jubilee Door, 1999). Often sacramental rituals begin at the door – here, the priest or deacon welcomes the parents as they bring their child for baptism; here, he greets the bride and groom as they begin the wedding liturgy; here, he greets the catechumens at the Rite of Acceptance; and, finally, the priest greets the casket at the beginning of the funeral liturgy.
Therefore, let us create Holy Doors in our cathedrals or other significant churches which can be worthy symbols of Christ and a welcome invitation to seek Him within our communities of faith.
Many thanks to all who have helped in preparing for our holy door! : the planning committee, stanchion makers, decorators who handled floral arrangements and bunting and posters, pilgrim registry and parish Jubilee of Mercy Prayer card (Dooley Funeral Home), pilgrim guides/docents.
As we enter into the season of Advent, preparing for our Lord’s Second Coming, and preparing to celebrate once again his first humble coming in Bethlehem at Christmas, let us strive truly to enter still more deeply into communion with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, Who is The Door.
This Wednesday we have our first day of grace for the season at our Paulding campus. We will have the Blessed Sacrament exposed as usual on Wednesday, but we will have the additional opportunity of confessions. It was my intention to sit in the confessional the entire day, but the Bishop is calling for his first meeting with all of the deans on Wednesday. This scheduling is beyond my control, and the deans’ meeting is a priority. My meeting is at 2 PM in Toledo, so I can hear confessions in the morning 8:30AM-12 Noon. Then Fr. Stites is able to hear confessions 4-5:30 PM; and I should be back for two more hours of confessions 6-8 PM. So, although we won’t have the entire day, there still will be confessions most of the day (8:30AM-NOON; 4-5:30PM; 6-8PM). If I can get back by 5:30 PM, I could even get into the confessional immediately as Fr. Stites is leaving. Pray for light rush-hour traffic from Toledo!
Have a blessed week and a blessed Advent!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,