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Local Church to inaugurate Jubilee Year of Mercy by Opening Holy Doors

The Holy Door (C), Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu.
The Holy Door (C), Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU – Holy Doors of Mercy at designated local churches will be opened  after Dec 8 to mark the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis will inaugurate the Jubilee Year by opening the traditional Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Dec 8. In the words of the pope, it is the opening of a “Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope” (Misericordiae Vultus, 3). And in dioceses throughout the world, similar doors are to be designated and opened by the local bishops for the same purpose.

In Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, on Dec 12 during the Sunset Mass, Archbishop John Wong will formally open the door of Sacred Heart Cathedral, designated as one of the Holy Doors in the archdiocese for the Year of Mercy while three other churches designated as Holy Doors, will be opened on Dec 13.

Earlier, on Dec 8, a solemn Mass will be celebrated to launch the Jubilee Year for the archdiocese at the cathedral at 7:30 pm in communion with the opening of the Jubilee Year in Rome for all believers to encounter the mercy of God, that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.h

The other three doors will be at St Peter Claver Church Ranau, St Peter’s Church Kudat, and Holy Rosary Church Limbahau  These four designated churches are also places of pilgrimage during the Jubilee Year.

The Holy Year Door is what the Church calls a sacramental – not a sacrament, which can only be instituted by Christ himself, but rather something resembling sacrament, something instituted by the Church to signify and obtain spiritual effects through the Church’s intercession with God. It is not just about receiving Divine Mercy. It is also, and inseparably, about showing mercy – “being merciful like the Father” – keeping in mind that Jesus has made it clear that we will not receive mercy and forgiveness if we have withheld mercy and forgiveness from others.

That is why for the jubilee, the Holy Father has placed special emphasis on what the Church has traditionally called the “works of mercy”, both corporal and spiritual. The corporal works of mercy are charitable actions by which we help our neighbours in their bodily needs. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and prisoners, burying the dead and giving alms to the poor. The spiritual works of mercy are actions that help our neighbors in their spiritual needs. These include counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, comforting the sorrowful, forgiving injuries, bearing wrongs patiently and praying for the living and the dead.

Pope Francis has explained in a letter that there are opportunities for obtaining indulgences that are a normal part of the celebration of a holy year. An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due because of his or her sins. In a holy year, it is offered to pilgrims who cross the threshold of the Holy Door at the Vatican or in their local diocese, confess their sins, receive the Eucharist and pray for the pope’s intentions.

The celebration of God’s mercy, the Holy Father wrote, is “linked, first and foremost, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the celebration of the holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the church and of the entire world.”

Those who are confined to their homes can obtain the indulgence by offering up their sickness and suffering, he said. Pope Francis also included special consideration for people who are incarcerated, touching on the Old Testament tradition of a jubilee year as a time for granting prisoners amnesty. Those who, “despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they committed,” may receive the indulgence with prayers and the reception of the sacraments in their prison chapel, he wrote.

Meanwhile, to help the archdiocesan clergy  prepare for the Year of Mercy, a half-day designated as a study day, was facilitated by  a team comprising Fr Thomas Yip, Fr Rayner Bisius and Fr Nicholas Stephen, at the Vianney Home Sept 29. The aim was to enable the clergy to grasp the purpose and aim of the Jubilee, as well as to put together a programme for the archdiocese. (Published in Catholic Sabah under “Proclaiming the Holy Year of Mercy at the Holy Door”).

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