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Opening of the Holy Doors

Dec. 20, 2015

Opening of the Holy Doors at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra, Mumbai, India on 20th December 2015

The inaugural rite prior to the opening of the Holy Doors at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount on 20th December 2015, for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, was held at the Oratory facing the Basilica. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, who officiated, praised God for His mercy saying: “Glory to you, Father, who forgives our faults and heals our infirmities. Glory to you, Lord, merciful and kind, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Glory to you, Lord; you who are a tender Father toward your children.”

His Eminence continued with a brief exhortation, inviting the faithful gathered to fix their eyes on Jesus during this Year of Mercy that began on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - ‘the beginning of our story of mercy.’ He reminded all present that the Holy Door being opened at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount is pertinent for this very reason.

 The Gospel, read from Luke 15: 1- 7 reveals God’s love for each of us, sinners, through Jesus’ words, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” Those gathered reflected in silence on the joy of repentance; the significance of this Year of Mercy would be lost without sincere penitence. The pillars of the Oratory carried displays of the various Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy, reminding us that just as we receive mercy from God, we are to give mercy without restriction.

The introductory text of the Bull of Indiction was read. The chant “Misercordes sicut Pater” filled the air as the thurifier, followed by the bearer of the Processional Cross and the Deacon carrying the Book of the Gospels, led the procession to the Basilica’s Holy Door. Facing the closed door, Cardinal Gracias intoned, “Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord.” The Book of the Gospels was raised by His Eminence as the antiphon was sung, “I am the gate, says the Lord, whoever enters through me, will be saved; he will enter and go out and find pasture.” Pushing open the Holy Doors, His Eminence entered the Basilica, preceding the faithful who reverently followed.

 His Eminence then sprinkled holy water on the congregation as a reminder of Baptism and as a renewal of the Baptismal promises, before commencing the Eucharistic Celebration.

In his homily, Cardinal Gracias echoed Pope Francis’ words, ‘I, too, am a sinner in need of God’s mercy’. Looking at Jesus, we witness the face of God’s mercy. But what is mercy? If we look deeply, we will come to an understanding that mercy is God’s overwhelming love. When we delve deeper and deeper into God’s continuous outpouring of love, we will experience more and more, His mercy. This love is not only for saints, it is for all; we are all in need of God’s love, each and every one of us.

 No one should say that it is difficult to reach God and difficult to obtain mercy, for the Church is indeed the vehicle of mercy. We are the Church and it becomes our Christian duty to spread the message of God’s mercy and reconciliation. With the Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy, we have direction; with the example of our religious leaders, we have motivation; and with God’s mercy through Jesus Himself, we have a straight path! His Eminence ended his homily with a request to those gathered to be ‘agents of God’s mercy’.

 On conclusion of the Holy Eucharist, the faithful were reminded to invoke our Blessed Mother: “We now turn our thoughts to Mary, the Mother of Mercy. May her merciful gaze be upon us throughout this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.”

 This invocation is particularly apt in the context of the Basilica where Our Lady is venerated by people of all faiths who visit in large numbers, and who come to seek comfort in times of distress.

 : December 20, 2015

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