Bishop Deeley Opens Fourth and Final Holy Door in Lewiston on December 20
LEWISTON---To inaugurate the Holy Year of Mercy, Bishop Robert P. Deeley opened the fourth and final holy door in the Diocese of Portland when he celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston on the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20
“This jubilee year invites all believers to contemplate the mystery of mercy, to receive the grace of mercy through sacramental reconciliation, and to live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy,” said Bishop Deeley to the large gathering.
Bishop Deeley had previously opened holy doors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland (December 8), St. John Church in Bangor (December 12), and St. Luce Church in Frenchville (December 13). The bishop decided to open doors at four churches so that more people would have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage and pass through a holy door, a significant part of the celebration of a jubilee year.
A year of extraordinary jubilee traditionally begins with the opening of the holy door to represent a renewed opportunity to encounter or grow closer to Jesus, who calls everyone to redemption. The purpose of the Holy Year of Mercy is to help all believers have a genuine experience of God’s mercy: both mercy received and mercy given. The holy door represents the passage to salvation which was opened to humanity by Jesus. The doors, once designated as “holy” for a jubilee year, then permits pilgrims to enter through them in order to gain the plenary indulgence that is connected with the jubilee.
The graces and indulgences of the holy year, geared toward personal conversion, can be obtained by making a pilgrimage to any of these churches, passing through the holy door, confessing one’s sins near the time of the visit, and saying the prescribed prayers for the intention of the Holy Father and the Church. To fulfill or satisfy the condition of praying for the intention of the Holy Father, it is customary to recite one Our Father and one Hail Mary, but it may be any other suitable prayer.
“In the spirit of this jubilee, I have designated this magnificent basilica as a place of pilgrimage,” the bishop said on Sunday. “I invite all the faithful to enter through its holy doors so as to encounter the Lord Jesus, Mercy himself, Mercy incarnate, on whom we depend for our salvation, by whom we are loved despite our sinfulness, and through whom we learn to serve our brothers and sisters.”
"We’re a sacramental Church, and we think that physical things can be reminders, can be signs of invisible realities,” said Monsignor Marc Caron, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, which includes the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. “So, God’s mercy operates at the level of the soul, of the heart, and yet, we need signs of that. A jubilee year is a sign in terms of time, and then, a shrine like the basilica is a sign in terms of place, reminding people of that reality of God’s mercy."
The Mass during which the holy door was open began in the sanctuary with a Gospel reading about the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In the parable, Jesus reminded the Pharisees and scribes that a shepherd would leave his flock to search for a single lost sheep, then gather his friends together in celebration when it was found: “I tell you, in just the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7).
Following the Gospel reading, Deacon Denis Mailhot declared “Brothers and sisters, let us go forth in the name of Christ: He is the way that leads us in the year of grace and mercy." While the Litany of Saints was sung, the bishop, concelebrating priests, deacons, and altar servers then processed to the narthex, to the main doors of the church, which had been sealed and unused for this occasion. The Door of Mercy was draped in papal colors of gold and white, signifying the special bond that basilicas have with the pope.
At the door, the bishop declared, "Open the gates of justice; we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord.” He then pulled the doors open and, lifting the Book of the Gospels, passed through.
“With our action of opening the door, we begin this Jubilee Year,” the bishop later said in his homily. “To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”
Monsignor Caron said the Prince of Peace Parish is putting together a pilgrimage schedule, so that the parish is prepared to warmly welcome groups that come.
"We’re really honored. It gives us the opportunity to welcome people during the course of the year who will come here seeking some sign of God’s mercy for them,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to show hospitality to them, in some cases to be the face of God’s mercy to them, and so, it’s a new role for the basilica to play, but I think that that role is a wonderful one. We're looking forward to all types of encounters through the course of the year."
The holy doors will remain open through the Holy Year of Mercy, which began on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will continue until November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.