This past week Pope Francis opened the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy by opening the “Holy Door” at St. Peter’s Basilica. This Sunday other holy doors will be blessed and opened at cathedrals, shrines and basilicas all over the world; including our Cathedral of St. Joseph and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. Going in pilgrimage to pass through the holy doors is symbolic of the journey of faith we are called to make as Christians. The doors are symbolic of Christ himself who is the Way to the Father, the Door (Sheep gate) of the flock of Christ. In the Book of Revelation Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20).
Recently Pope Francis commented on the significance of the Holy Door:
Before us is the door, but not only the Holy Door, the other – the great door of God’s Mercy, and it is a beautiful door! – which receives our repentance, offering the grace of His forgiveness. The door is generously open; a bit of courage is needed on our part to cross the threshold. Each one of us has within himself things that burden him. All of us. We are all sinners! Let us take advantage of this moment that is coming and cross the threshold of this mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving, never tires of waiting for us! He looks at us, He is always beside us. Courage! Let us go in through this door!
Picking up on these beautiful words, may I suggest that this Advent each of us pass through the great door of God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance? Beginning today (Sunday) there will be communal penance services held throughout our deanery. In addition, here at St. Charles we have confessions on Mondays at 5:00 p.m. and there will be confessions heard the week of Christmas on Monday and Tuesday evenings at St. Charles and St. Peter’s respectively.
As the Holy Father says, “The door is generously open” all we need is “a bit of courage” to cross the threshold. But what a wonderful gift awaits us when we do! It is the very best gift you can give yourself for Christmas – to experience God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Penance. Especially if you’ve not been to confession in a long time, the Lord is waiting for you! In Advent we usually focus on our waiting for Christ, but in truth it is he who waiting for us! He stands at the door and knocks … may we have the “courage” to let him in.