Vincentians and Holy Doors!
It can be fascinating to sit watching people pass through public doors. How many times will a person hold the door for someone following them? At times, it seems that in the hustle of life holding doors for others is becoming an abandoned practice.
Opening a door for those who follow transforms into an image of what Pope Francis has in mind during this Jubilee Year of mercy.
The Pope invokes a traditional custom of offering special blessings to those who make a pilgrimage and pass through a specially designated Holy Door.
On that day [the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception], the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.
To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop. (1)
Doors of Mercy
Our hearts can be heavy and in a state of pain for many reasons:
- our own struggles with sin,
- the deep hurt caused by a broken relationship with a family member,
- the suffering of infertility,
- the pain of a physical or mental illness,
- the shock of losing a job,
- the anguish of being betrayed or abandoned,
- many forms of spiritual or physical poverty.
Who of us is exempt from the various forms of chaos and suffering? We long for relief… mercy. When we ask for God’s mercy, we are essentially asking God to relieve us of a heart that is in pain and chaos.
Sometimes we are relieved of our pain by having the pain removed. Other times the pain may not be removed but we find relief in knowing someone is there with us.
What is mercy?
I recently read “Mercy is the willingness to enter into chaos of another.” (2)
I would like to use this thought to connect the mystery of the Incarnation, Advent and the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
In Advent, we become aware of our longing for relief, not just as individuals but all creation longing for God to enter into the chaos of our world.
The mystery of the Incarnation is that God has been willing to enter into our chaos.
And what better symbol than that of a God who entered into the chaos of homelessness, the chaos of not being in control of one’s own destiny.
Pope Francis is keenly aware of how God entered into his own world of chaos as a teenager and his own need for continuing mercy… and of the world’s need for mercy. So he has asked us to celebrate a special year of mercy.
He uses the ancient symbolism of passing through a door to mercy.
In spirit, he goes beyond the traditional concept of a pilgrimage to pass through the Holy Door in Rome. He is asking that Holy Doors be opened in dioceses throughout the world as portals to experiencing God’s mercy.
Now when I think about mercy as “entering into the chaos of another” I realize that I’ve experienced God’s mercy much more than I could ever count.
But more significantly I’ve also realized that I, in turn, am called to show mercy to others. I am called to hold the door open for others.
Pope Francis seems to be telling us that holding doors for others begins by relieving their chaos – consoling, pardoning and instilling hope in others.
Let me suggest some beginning ways that we as followers of Vincent and Louise can prepare the way of the Lord by becoming doors of mercy through which others can find relief.
Consoles – making time for other
Have you ever been asked “got a minute?”
- Do we allow others to cross our threshold?
- Or, do we lock our doors and don’t get involved?
- Do we willingly offer absolution by pardoning in our hearts?
- How are we at avoiding negativity, anger?
This Holy Year of Mercy is preparing the way of the Lord! This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!
God never tires of reaching out to us. He is always ready to listen. Are we always ready to enter into the chaos of another?
Today, the liturgy reminds us as followers of Vincent and Louise…
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Let us prepare the way of the Lord … and become a “door of mercy”
(1) Misericordiae Vultus, “The Face of Mercy” (11 April 2015).
(2) Mike Jordan Laskey wrote in the National Catholic Reporter about Kerry Weber’s great book Mercy in the City, which he read a few months ago. “So I pulled it off the shelf and paged through the first few chapters, and there it was on page 12, where she quotes the Jesuit priest Fr. James F. Keenan. “Mercy,” he says, “is the willingness to enter into chaos of another.””