OPENING THE DOORS OF MERCY
The Year of Mercy has begun! During this year we are being invited on a journey, a pilgrimage where we focus our hearts and minds on the spiritual task of walking in, with and towards God.
In proclaiming the Year of Mercy Pope Francis said:
“It is time for the church to take up the joyful call to Mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it.
Mercy: The word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us.
Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of… brothers and sisters on the path of life.
Mercy: the bridge that connects God and (humankind), opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever”….. (Misericordiae Vultus).
The first action of the Year of Mercy has been the opening of the ‘Door of Mercy’ in places all around the world. By opening these doors, we are saying symbolically that “the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God”(Pope Francis) and as Elizabeth Davis rsm added, ‘in the cosmos which holds us in communion, and in the hearts of all Sisters of Mercy, Associates and Partners-in-Mercy’.
Elizabeth brings another dimension to the Door of Mercy, when she asks can we be Doorkeepers of Mercy? She goes on to say, The Hebrew word Shaddai, written on the back of the parchment attached to the doorpost of every Jewish home today, denotes that the Almighty is present in that house. It is said that Shaddai is short for Shomer Dal’tot Yisrael, Hebrew words for “Guardian of the Doors of Israel.
In the days of the Jewish temple, one of the most important offices was that of doorkeeper. In the Litany to Our Lady, one of the titles of Mary is Gate of Heaven. One of the powerful offices in our own tradition was that of the portress, the sister who carried the keys and controlled all coming and going through the convent door. Elizabeth also notes that in participating in the International Reflection Process during this Year of Mercy we are agreeing to be guardians of the Door of Mercy, keepers of the in-between place of Mercy in this coming year.
• Will you as doorkeepers hold wide the door to invite Mercy to come in to be with us?
• Will you as doorkeepers hold wide the door to invite those who are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, sick, strange, or naked to come in to find Mercy?
• Will you as doorkeepers help us find new ways of being Mercy on an Earth and among a people crying out for justice?
• Will you as doorkeepers guide us into a holy place of contemplation and vision?
• Will you as doorkeepers guard our “going out and our coming in” (Ps 121:8) as we dare this new way of seeing Mercy and being Mercy in times that can be so fearful and discouraging?
Pope Francis says: The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable of. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one.’
So as we reflect on what the Year of Mercy might hold for us, let us consider these questions:
• What door do we hope Mercy will open in the coming year?
• What threshold does Mercy need to cross?
• What door of Mercy can we open?
Throughout the year, may each keep the Doors of Mercy that we tend, wide open to all who may wish to enter.
Messages to: Barbara Bolster rsm