This Friday the whole world will be watching as Pope John Paul II blesses and opens the Holy Door. He will then walk through it, signifying his desire to lead all mankind to the Father through Christ. The door signifies Jesus himself who is the one gate to salvation (Jn. 10:7). By blessing the Holy Door, Pope John Paul will inaugurate the Jubilee Year which is a time of opportunity for each one of us. According to our response it can be a "new springtime," a healing of wounds and a fresh start in God's grace.
Here at our parish we will also bless a Jubilee Door on Christmas eve. The first to pass through it will be the children representing Joseph and Mary with the Child Jesus on the way to Bethlehem. My hope as pastor is that each parishioner of Holy Family will take this opportunity of grace to come to Jesus. He will be waiting in the figure of the Sacred Heart which our Knights of Columbus have restored.
One of the great graces of the Holy Year is the Jubilee Indulgence. It can be obtained by first making a complete and integral confession. We will have a special opportunity this Thursday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fr. Ocaņa and I will be available in the Church for Advent confessions. The other requisites for receiving the Holy Year Indulgence are praying for the intentions of the Holy Father and making a pilgrimage. For those who cannot go to Rome or the Holy Land, it is possible to make a pilgrimage to St. James Cathedral. There will be many opportunities for this during the year 2000. For those who do long range planning the date set for our parish pilgrimage is December 31, 2000, which is next year's Feast of the Holy Family.
In proclaiming the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul said this about the indulgence:
"Another distinctive sign, and one familiar to the faithful, is the indulgence, which is one of the constitutive elements of the Jubilee. The indulgence discloses the fullness of the Father's mercy, who offers everyone His love, expressed primarily in the forgiveness of sins. Normally, God the Father grants His pardon through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Free and conscious surrender to grave sin, in fact, separates the believer from the holiness to which he is called. Having received from Christ the power to forgive in His name (cf. Mat. 16:19; Jn. 20:23), the Church is in the world as the living presence of the love of God who leans down to every human weakness inn order to gather it into the embrace of his mercy. It is precisely through the ministry of the Church that God diffuses His mercy in the world, by means of that precious gift which from very ancient times has been called the "indulgence."
"Revelation teaches that the Christian is not alone on the path to conversion. In Christ and through Christ, his life is linked by a mysterious bond to the lives of all other Christians in the supernatural union of the Mystical Body. This establishes among the faithful a marvelous exchange of spiritual gifts, in virtue of which the holiness of one benefits others in a way far exceeding the harm which the sin of one has inflicted upon others. There are people who leave in their wake surfeit of love, of suffering borne well, of purity and truth, which involves and sustains others. This is the reality of "vicariousness," upon which the entire mystery of Christ is founded. His superabundant love saves us all. Yet it is part of the grandeur of Christ's love not to leave us in the condition of passive recipients, but to draw us into His saving work and, in particular, into His Passion. This is said in the famous passage of the Letter to the Colossians: 'Inn my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church' (Col. 1:24).
"Everything comes from Christ, but since we belong to Him whatever is ours also becomes His and acquires a healing power. This is what is meant by 'the treasures of the Church,' which are the good works of the saints. To pray in order to gain the indulgence means to enter into this spiritual communion and therefore to open oneself totally to others. In the spiritual realm, too, no one lives for himself alone. And salutary concern for the salvation of one's own soul is freed from fear and selfishness only when it becomes concern for the salvation of others as well. This is the reality of the communion of saints, the mystery of 'vicarious life,' of prayer as a means of union with Christ and His saints. He takes us with Him in order that we may weave with Him the white robe of the new humanity, the robe of bright linen, which clothes the Bride of Christ (cf. Rev. 19:8)."
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