National Shrine Marks the End of Jubilee Year
By Melanie Williams (Nov 19, 2016)
The Holy Doors are closed. The Church's worldwide extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy ends on Sunday, Nov. 20. Do we all need to panic? No!
Father Kaz Chwalek, MIC, said in his homily for the closing of the Jubilee Year at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, "the Holy Doors are closed, but the doors to Christ are not. For those who seek Him, the doors of the Sacraments, the doors of trust, the doors of prayer are still open and they will always be open."
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Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee Year on Dec. 8. Just before opening the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica, he urged the faithful to come to know the face of God's mercy — Jesus Christ — and to show that face of mercy to our friends, neighbors, and enemies alike.
Moreover, at the request of Pope Francis, for the first time in the 700-year-old tradition of Jubilee Years, dioceses around the world opened their own "Holy Doors" at specific pilgrimage locations. The Shrine in Stockbridge was selected by the bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, to be among the diocese's official Jubilee Year destinations.
As the Holy Father explained, to pass through a Jubilee Year Holy Door is meant to symbolically illustrate an "extraordinary pathway" toward reconciliation during the time of Jubilee. Pilgrims who pass through a Holy Door — which is only opened during Jubilee years — can receive a plenary indulgence, according to the usual conditions.
Today at the Shrine — the day before Pope Francis closes St. Peter's Holy Door, thereby bringing to a close the Jubilee Year — the Marian Fathers celebrated a Mass in honor of Our Lady, Mother and Queen of Mercy for the closing of the Jubilee Year.
In his homily before a standing-room only Shrine, Fr. Kaz said, "Jesus gave Mary to us from the Cross. She is our tender mother: uniting us and reminding us to pray. The Jubilee Year began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception because the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is the mystery of God's saving plan for humanity. God wanted a fresh start for humanity, and He gave that gift to Our Lady, preserving her from sin. We received that gift at our Baptism, and the Holy Father reminds us in this Year of Mercy that God's plan cannot be effaced or erased no matter what secular society and life has done to us."
Father Kaz joyfully shared that over 100,000 people visited the Shrine during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, many of these pilgrims coming here for Confession.
"God wanted to bring people here for special graces, for those broken by sin who wished to be restored and made new," said Fr. Kaz, the provincial superior for the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina.
Father Kaz said in his homily that the Holy Father heard the Holy Spirit speaking to him about this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Spirit spoke that the Heavenly Father wanted something special for us, to come to know Him as our Father. Pope Francis wanted this to be a special year for people to come to know the Father's love. In our difficulties, He wants us to know He is with us and will always be with us. The Holy Spirit challenges us to draw near to the Father's love.
Father Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, the Marian Fathers' Provincial Liturgist said, "In the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Jesus often repeats that now is the time for mercy. He specifically states this to encourage souls to trust in Him today, but He also reveals that this time of mercy does not extend forever. The closing of the Year of Mercy does not mean that God's mercy is exhausted, or that on November 21, the time of justice has come. Rather, this closing of the Jubilee Year is a time for reflection: how have I received God's mercy during this past year? How has His mercy borne fruit in my life and in the Church? How can this continue in me?"
He continued, "The Year of Mercy has been a time of planting, when God has given of His mercy generously. What can we expect? Now the Master of the Vineyard will come to His Church to harvest the fruits of that mercy. May He come to the vineyard of our hearts and of the Church and find a full harvest!"
Father Kaz shared the new work of mercy that Pope Francis has given — to be merciful to your households. This is how mercy will continue, in us. We must not let the fire of love and mercy which has been ignited in our hearts in this Year of Mercy die out.
"Remember what has taken place," Fr. Kaz concluded, "The gift of this Year of Mercy has been a new faith, renewed trust, and renewed love. Do something that will mark this year as a monument in our life. Ask yourself, how will I continue? How can I live my faith with a deep sense of enthusiasm? First of all, pray for your elected officials, your priests, the young, the old, your children. Make a resolution — make one for the end of the Year of Mercy that will mark you for your whole life. Ask our Lady for help — she will be with you to help you, to remind you to keep this resolution."
Father Thaddaeus shared, "The coming months and years ahead of us, with all the world events that will occur, depend in some degree upon this Year of Mercy, in how we, as the Body of Christ, the Church, have received that mercy and borne fruit so as to give life to the world."
May we continue to seek the mercy of God after the end of this Jubilee Year. Let us remember all that He has done for us in this year. Let us be merciful to one another, and spread His mercy throughout the world!