Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Pope Benedict joins Pope Francis after Holy Mass for the opening of the Holy Door. It appears not as disorganized or chaotic as Pope Pius XII's opening of the Holy Door posted before this post. Not as ornate the cope Pope Francis wears is nonetheless quite nice and used by His Holiness before. Pope Francis opens the door in a different manner. Rather than hit the concrete enclosure with a silver hammer, the concrete structure had already been removed and the actual door was visible. Pope Francis then pushed this ornate door open, prayed quietly and then passes through followed by Pope Benedict. 

When Pope Saint John Paul II open the Holy Door last, he used the hammer and then the concrete structure was removed (a quite dangerous maneuver which caused some concrete to fall on the Holy Father). Italian chaos has given way to a more sober approach to opening the Holy Door and more practical.

(Vatican Radio) On Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis solemnly inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

“This Extraordinary Holy Year is itself a gift of grace,” the Pope 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.”

The full text of Pope Francis’ prepared homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy can be found below:

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Inauguration of the Jubilee of Mercy

8 December 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act, so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28).

The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, faith and abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan.  Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfillment.

This Extraordinary Holy Year is itself a gift of grace. 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. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.

How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.

Today, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith.

Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan.


Vox Cantoris said...

Well, what would it be without a salute to Vatican II, eh? A Council that a future Pope and/or Council will mostly condemn.

Mark Thomas said...

Hello, Vox. Vox, what is meant by "mostly condemn". Thank you.


Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

Recall the following from 2000 A.D.

Pope Presides at Ecumenical Holy Door Service

Representatives of 22 Christian churches joined John Paul II at a service at a Rome basilica.

ROME (RNS)--Pope John Paul II wrote a new chapter in the history of ecumenism Tuesday by opening the Holy Door of a major Roman basilica together with an Orthodox metropolitan and the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury.

Then, in a dramatic and unscripted gesture expressing their wish for unity, the two representatives of churches separated from Rome since the11th and 16th century kneeled in silent prayer on either side of the pope at the threshold of the great Byzantine door of the Basilica of St.Paul's-Without-the-Walls.

From the New York Times, January 18, 2000 A.D:

"Metropolitan Athanasios, a representative of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, and George Carey, the archbishop of Canterbury, helped Pope John Paul II push open the Holy Door of St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica."

I didn't note anything akin to that when His Holiness Pope Francis opened the Holy Door today. Did I miss something?

Here are photos of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Holy Door as he was flanked by the Orthodox Metropolitan and the "Archbishop" of Canterbury:


Mark Thomas

TJM said...

The "spirit of Vatican II" was an unmitigated disaster for the Church. Only a Pollyanna would state otherwise.

Gene said...

TJM, I came to the Catholic Church from being a Calvinist minister eight years ago in order to escape a failed protestantism that had sold out to secular humanism. After a long study of CCC and Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" and long talks with Fr. MacDonald, I decided that the Church was the truest embodiment of Biblical Christian truth. I now find myself asking, "why am I still here," and the only answer is "because there is nowhere else to go." That is pretty sad and it makes me angry as Hell.