By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 February, 2016
Part of the tradition of a Holy Year is the Holy Door as a symbol of welcome, Bishop Francis Duffy has highlighted in his pastoral letter for the Year of Mercy.
The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois highlighted how up until now the Holy Door was confined to Rome but this year Holy Doors of Mercy are opened in cathedrals and churches all over the world.
His own diocese has two Holy Doors of Mercy, one at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford and another at St Mary’s Church in Athlone.
Inviting individuals, families, class groups and parishes to make a pilgrimage to one of the Holy Doors, the Bishop said such a journey would be a sign of “our willingness to allow God’s merciful love flow into, and through, our lives”.
During the Holy Year of Mercy the faithful are invited to make two journeys: the journey inward to recognise and reinvigorate merciful attitudes, and the journey outward to allow these merciful attitudes continue to make a positive difference to people encountered.
“The Sacrament of Reconciliation is at the centre of God’s mercy. Sin impacts on how we think and on how we act; it can imprison us and distance us from God and our neighbour,” Bishop Duffy said.
But he added that the mercy of God is stronger than sin.
“During this Holy Year of Mercy I encourage our priests and parish pastoral councils to provide opportunities for people to participate in the Year of Mercy.”
Underlining that mercy is about attitudes and actions that are life enhancing, Dr Duffy stated, “mercy can help us have a rich and warm relationship with God and our neighbour”.
He added, “If we want to know what mercy means we look at Jesus Christ.”
Reminding the faithful that Pope Francis has urged them this year to look again and rediscover the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy as practical expressions of our love of neighbour, he explained that the Corporal Works of Mercy are: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting those in prison, comforting the sick and burying the dead.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are advising sinners, instructing the uninformed, counselling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, being patient with those in error, forgiving offences, praying for the living and the dead.
“The Holy Year of Mercy is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we allow God’s love for us and his mercy towards us have an impact on how we live. It is also an opportunity to give thanks that many people are merciful in our communities and in our world.”
Those who wish to gain an indulgence may do so by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford or St Mary’s Church in Athlone, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.
During this Holy Year of Mercy information on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, pilgrimage, indulgences and mercy will be made available in churches and on the diocesan website http://www.ardaghdiocese.com/ and on the Holy Year of Mercy website http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en.html