Earlier this year Pope Francis announced an “extraordinary Holy Year.” This “Jubilee Year of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) and will conclude on Nov. 20, 2016. The initiative promotes throughout the world the opening of local churches for an extended period of time for the purpose of inviting people to return to the sacrament of reconciliation through confession.
In Alaska and around the world this year provides an opportunity for individual dioceses to open a regional holy door, either in a cathedral or in a church of special meaning or a shrine of particular importance.
Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz has designated two holy doors, one at Holy Family Cathedral and one at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, both in Anchorage. On Dec. 8, during the 12:10 p.m. Mass at Holy Family, Archbishop Schwietz will begin the Jubilee Year of Mercy in Southcentral Alaska with a special rite. A second such rite will take place Dec. 13 at Our Lady of Guadalupe during a 3 p.m. Mass.
The faithful are invited to make a brief pilgrimage to a holy door, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion.
For those for whom it will be impossible to enter a holy door, particularly the sick, elderly and alone, Pope Francis has said that it will “be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection.”
“Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence,” the pope said earlier this year.
For those in prison, the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to God each time they cross the threshold of their cell will signify for them their passage through the holy door, the pope said, because “the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”
In the first Angelus after his elections, the pope stated: “Feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”