Archbishop José H. Gomez officially opened the Year of Mercy Jubilee Door at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 13. Churches around the world participated in similar events to mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis to run Dec. 8 through Nov. 20, 2016.
Before the mid-morning Mass, the congregation processed through the Jubilee Door, a freestanding structure made of steel and wood located in the Cathedral plaza. Archbishop Gomez blessed the Holy Door before using a mallet to knock on the Cathedral’s closed bronze doors — an entrance that had remained open since the Cathedral’s inauguration in 2002. The opening of the doors symbolized God’s welcome of all sinners into the Church.
“During this Year of Mercy, God is welcoming all of us to come into His home, His house, His family — the Church,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily. “The Church is calling all of us to rediscover the beautiful experience of the Mercy of God. Every one of us needs to walk through the Door of Mercy. For the mercy that we seek can only be found in a personal encounter with the living God.”
Archbishop Gomez reaffirmed the faithful’s need to ask for forgiveness in order to receive God’s Mercy. “God does not do this work of reform by Himself. He needs our cooperation, our preparation. His Mercy is a grace, it is a gift that he offers to us, but we need to accept the gift of His mercy.”
Archbishop Gomez also noted that we must show kindness to others in order to receive kindness. “One act of kindness can start a revolution of mercy in our world,” he said. Share food and clothing, be honest and truthful in your work, he suggested, drawing from John the Baptist’s commands in the Gospel reading.
He added, “The doors of mercy are wide open now. They are open for you and they are open for me. They are open for everyone.”
The archbishop also asked every Catholic in Los Angeles to “invite at least one person to walk through these Doors of Mercy.” The invitation, he said, would bring “at least one person back to the house of God, back to the loving arms of our merciful Father.”
Sister Adriana Olivares of the Servants of Mary, who attended the Dec. 13 Mass, said she is excited about the opportunity to participate in the Year of Mercy and obtain an indulgence by walking through the Holy Doors. She told the Tidings that this year reminds us of Christ’s message.
“Jesus came to save us all,” said Sister Olivares, adding, “this year is an opportunity, for not just Catholics, but for all of humanity.”
Pope Francis has declared an indulgence — a special grace that removes the need for purification in Purgatory — for those who ask for forgiveness during the Sacrament of Penance, cross through the Holy Doors of Mercy at a Catholic Church, perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy, receive the Holy Eucharist with a “reflection of mercy,” make a profession of faith, and pray for the pope and his intentions.
Sister Olivares noted that the indulgence can be offered for others. “We can offer it for the souls in purgatory, for ourselves, for our families, for those who are away from the sacraments.”
To those who are hesitant to ask for mercy, she advised, “Do not be afraid. We are all sinners. No one can say that they have not sinned.”
As a sign that mercy is open to all, the pope has declared that those in prison may obtain an indulgence in their prison chapel and that their cell door can be used as a Holy Door.
“May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Doors, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom,” said Pope Francis.
The elderly and those confined to their homes are able to obtain an indulgence by “living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial,” receiving communion and participating in Mass either in person or through a media outlet.
The pontiff has asked Catholics to use this year as a special time to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, praying for the dead and sheltering the homeless.
For more information on the Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a list of pilgrimage churches and more resources, please visit seekmercy.org.