Opening of the Holy Door at St Mary's Cathedral

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
14 Dec 2015

The procession along College Street to the main door of the Cathedral, the Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy

Hundreds of people gathered outside St Mary's Cathedral at the start of the Solemn Mass on Sunday to usher in the Jubilee Year of Mercy by the opening of the Holy Door at the Cathedral.

On the  third Sunday of Advent people gathered outside the Cathedral with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP while the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was read.

All then joined the procession following the Cathedral Choir around the Cathedral, along College Street to the main stairs of the Cathedral overlooking the forecourt.

The Archbishop carried the Book of Gospels while the choir sang the Hymn for the Jubilee Year.

Standing at the main door of the Cathedral Archbishop Anthony said : "Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the Lord's gate: let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness."

He then pushed the door open and the procession and people entered the Cathedral for the Mass.

The main doors to the Cathedral have been decorated in a floral garland, similar to the Holy Door opened on 8 December at St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Archbishop Fisher about to enter the Holy Door

A Jubilee Year or Holy Year is a year of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, conversion and a renewed fervour of faith, pointing ultimately to Christ who brings life and grace to humanity. In this extraordinary Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wishes to bring God's gift of mercy to the world in a new and dynamic way.

In his homily Archbishop Fisher said the opening of  holy doors is really is an exotic Catholic tradition:.

"Since at least the 15th century they've been opened periodically in the basilicas in Rome as a destination for pilgrimage. Pilgrims cross the threshold and receive from the Church's treasury of graces a plenary indulgence or remission of any punishment still due to confessed and forgiven sins. All the Church asks is that as well as making our way through the door we make a good Confession within a reasonable time, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father's intentions. But why the door bit? Because as St John Paul II taught walking through a holy door evokes the passage every believer from death to life, from sin to grace, and recalls that Jesus called Himself the Gate of the sheepfold: those who enter by Him are saved and can shelter in His embrace "

The Archbishop said the procession through the Holy Door inaugurated the Jubilee for the Archdiocese and by entering the grace and mercy of Christ can be received.

"Of course, no one asks for mercy who doesn't believe they need it. If you think you are perfect and self-sufficient you will not reach out for help. And if you don't experience any neediness yourself you are unlikely to sympathize much with those who do," Archbishop Fisher said.

Young parishioners with the Archbishop after the Solemn Mass

"Our Jubilee Year of Mercy begins with the sheer contrast between the perfect and all-powerful God, who dwells in unapproachable light; and our own inability to pull ourselves up by our shoelaces and conquer the all-too-obvious darkness of our weaknesses and guilt. Every human being who is humble of heart and honest in self-examination, will know they need help. "Enter, Pope Francis calls to us, enter 'the door of God's great mercy'. Let Him liberate you from the sins, vices, addictions; from the unforgivingness, vengefulness, gossipyness; from the vanity, dishonesty, lies. Open the doors not just of your cathedral but of the church that is your body, your soul: open your hearts to God's mercy, humbly seeking and receiving forgiveness and healing.'"

Archbishop Fisher also welcomes everyone to make a Pilgrimage of Mercy to the Cathedral where a Way of Mercy has been displayed with six different Mercy Stations inside the Cathedral. Pilgrims are able to read, rest, reflect and pray at the stations.

Parishes and school groups will also be encouraged to take part in the Pilgrimage of Mercy throughout the Jubilee of Marcy which runs to 20 November next year.

Archbishop Fisher's full homily here.