ARCHBISHOP Mark Coleridge opened Brisbane’s Holy Door for the Year of Mercy last week with an invitation to seize the joy of God’s merciful love.
Hundreds gathered at St Stephen’s Cathedral for the opening of the Holy Door on the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice” in Latin and traditionally centres Catholics on the joy of Christ’s coming birth.
The opening of St Stephen’s Cathedral’s Holy Door coincided with the opening of Holy Doors at cathedrals around the world.
Archbishop Coleridge said the Year of Mercy was one of the “surprises” Pope Francis has offered the Church.
“For the Pope, the Jubilee is deeply connected with the synodal journey that we’ve been on for the last couple of years, and it’s purpose is to lead the Church into a new experience of God’s mercy so that we can become a more merciful Church, offering to others – especially to those who need it most – a new experience of God’s mercy,” he said.
“That’s what the Church is called to be: a community where those needing mercy can find a home in a world where homelessness often threatens.”
Archbishop Coleridge invited Catholics to walk through the Holy Door as a personal act in the Year of Mercy, reminding the congregation that the jubilee year was about action.
“We have opened the Door of Mercy in the cathedral, and it will be a powerful symbol of the new beginning which we are called to make, personally and communally,” he said.
“But there will be other things we can do through this year to open ourselves more to God’s mercy, keeping in mind that mercy isn’t so much a sentiment as an action.
“The God of mercy is a God who acts, and the same has to be true of us. So let this year be a time of action.”
St Stephen’s Cathedral dean Fr David Pascoe echoed the Archbishop’s invitation, saying the entire jubilee year was about the “real joy in the mercy of God”.
“And then it’s about taking that joy to the world, that we don’t hold on to it,” he said.
All Holy Doors across the world bear the official logo for the Year of Mercy, which portrays Jesus carrying a lost soul and gazing on him with forgiveness, not condemnation.
The Holy Doors are also decorated with foliage and flowers as a symbol of the beauty of God’s mercy.
Brisbane’s own Holy Door has also been given an Australian scent, adorned with gumnut leaves and paperbark.
Fr Pascoe is now awaiting the thousands who are expected to make a pilgrimage through the Holy Door.
The cathedral has even extended its Saturday confession times to two hours, from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
Fr Pascoe expects thousands to make the pilgrimage “as a moment of penance”.
“I think it will take off more in the new year, once the Christmas celebrations are over,” he said.
There are seven official Holy Doors in the world, four located in Rome, two in Europe and one in Canada.
Holy Doors, or porta santa, are closed shut from the inside and opened only for a Jubilee Year, during which pilgrims are invited to walk through and attain a plenary indulgence attached to the jubilee.
By Emilie Ng