By Jonathan Pok
I had first heard about the Door of Mercy through my wife, she told me of the news that Pope Francis this year had declared a Year of Mercy and with this the establishment of Doors of Mercy around the world at designated churches.
In announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis declared, “The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope.
“On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Mercy in the Basilica of St. Peter, marking the official start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Francis broke with tradition in removing the necessity of traveling to Rome.In October 2015, a temporal privilege was extended by Pope Francis through the Papal bull of Indiction, “Misericordiae Vultus” for an ordinary bishop to designate his own Holy Door for the purpose of the “Jubilee Year of Mercy”.
Holy Doors were to be designated in every diocese throughout the world, and could be located at the diocesan Cathedral or at other popular church shrines.
These Doors of Mercy would give hope, pardon and peace to all those who find it and the attainment of God’s gracious mercy and a plenary indulgence.
“A Holy Door …is a visual symbol of internal renewal, which begins with the willing desire to make peace with God, reconcile with your neighbors, restore in yourself everything that has been damaged in the past, and reshape your heart through conversion.
- In John 10:9, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.
- In Luke 11:9 is found, “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
- Revelations 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”
An indulgences is defined as “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned.”
The first thing to note is that forgiveness of a sin is separate from punishment for the sin. Through sacramental confession we obtain forgiveness, but we aren’t let off the hook as far as punishment goes.
Indulgences are two kinds: partial and plenary.
A partial indulgences removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins.
A plenary indulgence removes all of it. This punishment may come either in this life, in the form of various sufferings, or in the next life, in purgatory.
Source: Wikipedia & thedivinemercy.org
After searching about where the Door of Mercy was in Hong Kong we found that it was at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. We had planned just to go to the Door of Mercy to gain our plenary indulgence after going to Confession, attending Mass and being in a state of grace. My initial thought was that we would simply find the door, touch it’s post and ask our Father for mercy, but we were to discover by God’s grace an unexpected and most fulfilling experience he had planned for us….a pilgrimage.
I had heard of a people journeying on a pilgrimage before and to me it was associated with traveling a long distance to a sacred and Holy site to be in the presence of where God had performed a miracle or where Jesus has once been. In their journey I believed that pilgrims would be able to discover a deeper meaning of their faith through their experience along the way to reaching the goal of visiting a Holy site and being closer to God.
Zarene and I had previously discussed how interesting it would be to visit historical sites around the world as an expedition of adventure and discovery, to learn about the history and significance of these sites. Unexpectedly our initial desire to reach the door of mercy became a pilgrimage experience and a lesson from God also about the pilgrimage to reach his mercy. When we found that there was a pilgrimage around the Cathedral and as part of the Door of Mercy we were so excited about this blessing to go on this journey this Sunday afternoon. We were blessed to discover and learn more about the history of this Cathedral, the church, saints and martyrs of China as well as a deeper insight into the marvellous love of our Heavenly Father and his mercy which endures forever.
I would like to share our journey with you of the Pilgrimage to the Door of Mercy and hope to inspire others to take the journey during this year of Mercy.
A pilgrimage represents a journey each one of us makes in this life, we are traveling along a road towards our final destination. This practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, as mercy is also a goal and destination to reach which required dedication and sacrifice.
By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and may be dedicated to being merciful towards others as our Father has shown us.
May this pilgrimage be a driving force to conversion towards God’s mercy and through his may we find mercy for the world.
The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to reach our goal: Let us not judge and we will not be judged, condemn not and we will not be condemned, forgive and we will be forgiven, give and it will be given to us. For the measure we give will be the measure we get back.
As humans we only judge others on what we see on the surface but our Father sees in to the very depths of our soul. So if we wish to avoid God’s judgment then let us not judge our brothers and sisters.
How much harm do words do when we are feeling jealous and envious, when we speak ill of others we place them in a bad light and with gossip we make attack the reputations of those we speak ill of.
May we have the grace to refrain from judgment and condemnation, to accept the good in every person and spare others suffering that may be caused by our partial judgment or presumption that we know about those whom we judge.
Jesus asks us to forgive and to give, to be instruments of mercy because it was us who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others in the knowledge that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity.
It truly was a great blessing to have experience the pilgrimage, it allowed me time to reflect on the journey of our Lord Jesus and also on my personal journey with him.
As explained in the guide book, Mercy is also a journey, requiring dedication and sacrifice and to show mercy to others as God the Father has shown to us in greater measure. Each station had a specific aspect of God’s mecry to contemplate and dwell upon.
You can read the full step by step guide for each station in the related post and you may also find a dedicated message if you choose to experience the pilgrimage.
The start of the pilgrimage was at the porch of the church at the entrance. Here we could already see the inviting nature of God calling us to come to the door. The front of the church is a welcoming place where there are greetings exchanged by parishioners after the mass ends and where the bride and groom will be received by guests when the marriage ceremony finishes.
It is a place both solemnity before the start of Mass and also celebration and gathering afterwards.
Each station has a significant message to contemplate but there were a few stations which stood out for me which I would like to share.
The relevation of Jesus to St Margaret Mary about his Sacred Heart was a strong message and one which challenged me to think about the desire of our Lord.
Jesus shared that he thirsts to be loved by men and burns with desire to be loved!
It is sad to hear that he finds no one strives, according to his deisre to quench his thirst by loving him in return. He feels this pain more than all that he suffered during his Passion. If he would have some return for his love, if it were possible he would suffer still more.
But all we have done is reject him and treat him with coldness in our hearts. Jesus’s heart which has so loved men has spared nothing. It is heartbreaking that Jesus receives from most men only ingratitude because of irreleverance, sacrileges coldness and scorn.
Furthermore what offends him most is that hearts consecrated to him act in this way. This challenges us, how can we console the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Also how much love have we shown him in return for his great love for us.
During the pilgrimage we came to learn of the history of the saints and martyrs in China which shows the extent of God’s love to spread his message of mercy to far off lands such as this.
God was able to reach the heart of men in China to dedicate their lives to his love through the work of missionaries. We too must shared and spread the message to all that God loves us and we need to find him dwelling in us.
We also learnt that the patron saint of China is also St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, spouse of Mary and the head of the Holy Family.
Of St Vincent de Paul, we learnt that we must continue to perform spiritual works in our own lives to feed the hungry, give drink to those who thirst, welcome the stranger, take care of the sick, clothe those who are naked and visit those in prison.
For those least whom we do these acts for, we do for Christ himself.
These were the blessed messages which God shared while on this pilgramage.