3rd Sunday of Advent

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Jubilee of Mercy began five days ago on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, but today in Rome Pope Francis is opening the Holy Door of his cathedral church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. And for the first time in our history, the pope has also asked every diocesan bishop in the world to open a Holy Door in his own cathedral church. Even more, however, is the pope’s request that each bishop designate several station churches throughout his diocese so that people everywhere will be reminded during the Jubilee of Mercy that anywhere in the world we can all make the journey to the Lord Jesus and in him find the forgiveness of our sins. It is our privilege at St. Mary’s to have the Holy Door for the Greenville Deanery, and before the 11 am Mass today a brief ceremony will take place at the bell tower door of the church to designate it as our Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy.

Pope Francis has convoked this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy because of his conviction that more than anything else, the human race is need of mercy – mercy from God and mercy for each other. Our English word mercy comes from the Latin misericordia which comes from the words meaning pity and heart. To have pity in our hearts for others leads us to treat them with compassion and understanding, and it is Christ’s love for us that leads to the piercing of his Sacred Heart, from which the cleansing blood and water of the New Covenant pour forth upon the world. The Fourth Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Missal sets forth the ways in which God’s mercy changes the world, and as the Jubilee of Mercy begins, we would do well to ponder these words:

“We give you praise, Father most holy, for you are great, and you have fashioned all your works in wisdom and love. You formed man in your own image and entrusted the whole world to his care, so that in serving you alone, the Creator, he might have dominion over all creatures. And when through disobedience he had lost your friendship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. For you came in mercy to the aid of all, so that those who seek might find you. Time and again you offered them covenants, and through the prophets taught them to look forward to salvation. And you so loved the world, Father most holy, that in the fullness of time you sent your Only Begotten Son to be our Savior. Made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, he shared our human nature in all things but sin. To the poor, he proclaimed the good news of salvation; to prisoners, freedom; and to the sorrowful of heart, joy. To accomplish your plan, he gave himself up to death, and rising from the dead, he destroyed death and restored life. And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him who died and rose again for us, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full.”

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Father Newman