Recently, the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia hosted thousands of tour operators and representatives from sacred destinations. It was an opportunity for each of us to collaborate with members of the National Travel Exchange and Faith Travel Association. The organizations came together to create strategic partnerships world wide.
There were many monumental moments but one thing for sure that keeps flooding back. It was the Holy Door. The undeniable “Designated Holy Door” at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When I opened the balcony door of where I was staying I stepped outside only to find the Basilica smack dab in front of me. Evidently, I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
As Providence would have it, another blessing was to witness the Bishop bless the Holy Door of Mercy on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It was a profound moment filled with signs and symbols rich in Catholic tradition. Many passerbys including the local television station, were strewn into the street to catch a glimpse of what was happening outside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Holy Doors throughout the world are normally sealed by mortar and bricks from the inside, so that they can be made holy during Extraordinary Jubilee Year’s marked by the Pope, every 25 years.
After the ceremonious opening of the Holy Door was the Mass, a most beautiful liturgy comprised of the Pastor as cantor! The homily instituted an invitation to “open the door into our own hearts.” It literally felt like I was opening an engraved invitation. The Bishop said, “God wants to see the wounds of our hearts so he can touch and heel them.” The Bishop said, “Mercy is Love. The most important door is the door to your own heart” and he challenged the people packed in the pews as he concluded with these words, “let your eyes be the Doors of Mercy.”
For me, it was transformation. Just like that of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist that nourishes each of our souls. My heart was changed and my mind was filled with a sense of peace and love that only God can give. The Catholic Church teaching is steeped in scripture that peace and love do not come without a price. (Acts 16:22-25). Paul says it again and again. We must be willing to deny our self and take up our cross by virtue of patience and follow Him by virtue of perseverance. It reminds me of the 4th and 5th Sorrowful Mysteries and virtues of the Holy Rosary. God tells us that the benefits far outweigh any cost of taking up our cross.
While I had previously crossed the threshold of a Holy Door at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois along with 27 family members on the Feast of the Holy Family; I surmised that each and every Holy Door will be completely different.
Why is it different? Maybe because my heart was changed or my eyes fervently became the doors of mercy. Either way, I experienced a deep connection with God that affirmed my vocation as wife and mother first and then to bring pilgrims on the journey to Him by passing through the Holy Doors. Just as God has a specific purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) or plan for each one of us while on this earth, my special task assigned by God has become more and more clear with each new day. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s graces keep overflowing. Scripture says, “I am the door.” (John 10) We must open our hearts to Him and strive for holiness.
Pope Francis has declared a whole liturgical Year of Mercy on forgiveness. The significance lies in the fact that Cathedral doors throughout the world have been Designated Holy Doors by local Bishops. The doors are for pilgrims to pass through to find a place of forgiveness in their hearts thereby actually entering into the mystery and “being” Christ to others. I found that you can start by being Christ to those closest to you. The most beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation is tied to a plenary indulgence granted by performing actions like passing through a Holy Door on a pilgrimage. The graces are given only by God. Pope Francis said, “the door finds meaning only when the believer associates the door with Christ.”
Amen? Amen. Holy Doors are powerful. The beauty is when you are still enough, then you might begin to realize what God has ready for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
May the grace and peace and love of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
Come! Experience PEACE LOVE PILGRIMAGE because “There is a time for everything!” Ecclesiastes 3