This morning as Bishop Frank J. Caggaino closed the Holy Door on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, he urged all those present to become “living doors” to others by carrying mercy and love in their hearts for all those they encounter.
The Diocesan observance of the international year, which began with a candlelight procession early last December, came to an end on a suddenly cold and wind whipped morning outside St. Augustine Cathedral on the Feast of Christ The King. “The time has come for every single one of us to become living doors of God’s mercy in the world. We are all being sent out in this cold world to give witness to give witness and to invite people to touch the face of God in you and me,” the bishop said. Members of the neo-catechumenate sang and danced in a prayer circle with guitars and tambourines before the bishop processed into Mass. The Epistle was read in Spanish and the congregation joined in the responsorial song, “Vamos alegres a la casad el senor.”(Let’s go to the house of the Lord.)
More than 700 parishioners and those who came throughout the diocese for the observance filled the Cathedral for the Mass and blessing. Music was sung in Latin, Spanish and English. “We are not ending anything, we are beginning the next chapter in our Church,” the bishop said. “As we close the Holy Door, we pray that we open the door of your heart and mine as we ask for the grace to become more and more merciful.”
The bishop said that “mercy begins with looking in the mirror” and understanding “that God enters the wretchedness of our lives to lift us up in his love,” so that we might become ambassadors of mercy to others. After his homily the bishop formally accepted the candidacy of Ricardo Batista to the priesthood. Batista, a member of the Neo-Catechumenate community at Cathedral Parish. The congregation broke into applause when the bishop said that Ricardo will be will be the first seminarian from the new Redemptoris Mater Seminary to go on to St. Joseph’s Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York. “This is an historic moment,” the bishop said after Ricardo answered, “I do,” to a series of resolves to enter formation.
After Mass, the bishop processed to the Holy Door at the back to the Church and surrounded by seminarians gave the final blessing. “Throughout the year we’ve enjoyed every blessing of Christ. This has been a precious time of mercy and conversion,” he said.
Pope Francis formally declared the Jubilee of Mercy on April 11, 2015, to emphasize the importance of mercy and to keep alive a sense of encounter and openness in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. The Pope urged dioceses across the world to create a Holy Door, “to become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.”