Earlier this month, the Holy Doors at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago (and other Catholic Churches around the world) were officially opened to mark the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy.
Pope Francis announced the Jubilee of Mercy himself, and Catholics all over the world are following suit. In the Roman Catholic Church, “Jubilees” are special holy years set aside for the remission of sins and universal pardon. The first Jubilee was launched over 700 years ago by Pope Boniface VIII on February 22, 1300. This year’s Jubilee was launched Dec. 8, 2015 — during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and exactly 50 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council. Love it or hate it, Vatican II was a watershed event that modernized the Catholic Church as we know it today.
For Chicagoans, the Jubilee of Mercy was inaugurated during the third Sunday of Advent. Archbishop Cupich preceded over a Mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Dec. 13, where he formerly began the festivities by opening the holy doors. During his remarks at the Mass, Archbishop Cupich noted that the Holy Doors represent God’s invitation to all to participate in his mercy. He noted “In many ways, that door opened for us is not unlike the question of the people to St. John the Baptist… what are we to do?” He added “He has prepared this year for us…he has prepared this year for us, and his mercy is waiting for us. That is the hope given to us as we are called to move, to change. We will not become holy by our doing, our efforts, which we know fall short, but by God’s special grace and initiative working now in this time and place”
At Holy Name Cathedral, the holy doors are to remain open until Nov. 20, 2016: the Feast of Christ the King. Until then, faithful Catholics who pass by the doors and who participate in the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist, can obtain a plenary indulgence. Indulgences offers a remission of sins that have already been forgiven.
Following in the footsteps of Pope Francis and Archbishop Cupich, many other holy doors have been opened in cathedrals around the world – as well as various churches in Chicago – to mark this special occasion. A full list can be found on the website jubileemercy.org.
These events offer some interesting food for thought. Chicago Catholics, if you weren’t already aware of the Pope’s plans for the Jubilee, now you are. Will you do something to make 2016 special?