Year of Mercy Holy Doors open Dec. 13 at Cathedral, Basilica

| Jessica Trygstad and Maria Wiering | December 14, 2015 | 0 Comments
Year of Mercy door opening

?Archbishop Bernard Hebda opens the Holy Doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul Dec. 13 at the start of 10 a.m. Mass to signify the opening of the Year of Mercy. A similar opening took place at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

The first Year of Mercy pilgrims from around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis processed through the Holy Doors of the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary Dec. 13 after the doors were ceremoniously opened at the co-cathedrals.

At the Cathedral of St. Paul, Archbishop Bernard Hebda led a rite for the door opening in the church’s narthex. He exited a side door and re-entered through the central doors the Cathedral designated last month as its Holy Doors. Hundreds of pilgrims followed, streaming through the doors and into pews for 10 a.m. Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Hebda noted how the Cathedral’s facade overlooks downtown St. Paul and the “beautiful crane” marking the construction of Catholic Charities’ new Dorothy Day Center.

Catholic Charities’ work, he said, is emblematic of the works of mercy Catholics are asked to perform during the Year of Mercy, and the building can remind Catholics daily of the need for mercy.

In Minneapolis, Father John Bauer, the Basilica’s pastor, led the congregation in prayer before processing to the Holy Doors with the Basilica choir in tow. Once pilgrims had gone through the Holy Doors and were re-situated in the pews, they renewed their baptismal promises.

Father Bauer told the congregation that preparing for Christ means changing present behaviors. He said that while sometimes it’s difficult to live as Catholics are called to live, “We’re not called to difficult and complex things.” He noted that Catholics are called to love their enemies, forgive, not judge, welcome the stranger and stand with the vulnerable.

Cathedrals around the world opened holy doors Dec. 13 on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is Latin for “rejoice.”

Archbishop Hebda, the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, called Pope Francis “the great apostle of mercy” and said he connects joy and mercy with his 2013 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” and the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which officially opened
Dec. 8.

He said Catholics should rejoice in God’s inexhaustible mercy and go forth to “be instruments of mercy in our own world.” Like the open Holy Doors, Catholics should “open the doors of our hearts . . . to those gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit” indicating need for God’s mercy.

He urged Catholics to be “messengers of mercy” in their homes and workplaces, and to pray for the strength to persevere in seeking opportunities to evangelize and be merciful.

Earlier in the homily, Archbishop Hebda said there was “deep joy” in his heart that he was celebrating the opening of the Year of Mercy in the beautiful Cathedral of St. Paul — something he never would have anticipated when Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy in March. Coadjutor archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, Archbishop Hebda was named temporary leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in June following the resignations of Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché.

“There is great joy in my heart, but I tell you there should be even more joy in your heart because someone greater is to come,” he said of the archdiocese’s next archbishop, whom Pope Francis has yet to name.

On the jubilee in general he added: “How wonderful it is to be Catholic. We appreciate the holiness of holy times, sacred time, sacred places” shown by the Church’s long tradition of jubilee years and holy doors.

At the end of Mass, Archbishop Hebda — with the permission of the Holy See — gave a papal blessing that included a plenary indulgence for those who met the usual conditions, including complete detachment from sin, the reception of sacramental confession and holy Communion, and the offering of prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions.

In the archdiocese, plenary indulgences are available throughout the Year of Mercy for pilgrims who enter the Holy Doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul or the Basilica of St. Mary. At the Cathedral, both the exterior and interior sets of center doors are considered Holy Doors.

St. Maron Maronite Church in Minneapolis, an Eastern-rite Catholic parish, is also designated as a pilgrimage site. Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun opened its Holy Doors Dec. 13.

Archbishop Hebda encouraged Catholics to frequently seek out “another door” during the Year of Mercy: the door of the confessional. “I hope you’ll take advantage of the full grace that comes from that great sacrament,” he said.

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