On Tuesday December 8, 2015 the Universal Church will begin a Jubilee Year of Mercy that will extend until November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. This week, at the end of his Apostolic Voyage to Africa, Pope Francis opened the first Jubilee “Door of Mercy” at the cathedral of Bangui, Central Africa. This is one of the many “Doors of Mercy” that will be available to Christians throughout the world. There are four major “Holy Doors” located in the four major Papal Basilicas of Rome which are normally sealed and only opened during rare Jubilee Years designated by the Holy Father. Each pilgrim who passes through a “Holy Door” during a Jubilee Year will gain a Plenary Indulgence, that is, the remission of any temporal punishment due to sins which have been forgiven in confession. In order to receive this gift of a Plenary Indulgence the Catholic pilgrim must (1) go to Confession, (2) receive Holy Communion and (3) pray for the Holy Father. Further, the Jubilee Indulgence may be obtained for someone who has already died.
Because many are not able to travel to one of the four Papal Basilicas of Rome, each bishop around the world has designated a few churches within his own diocese through which a pilgrim may pass in order to receive the Jubilee Plenary Indulgence. Bishop Murphy will open the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 12, 2015 at the 5PM Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Agnes in Rockville Centre. The bishop has also designated three other places of pilgrimage within the diocese with an official Mass of the opening of the “Holy Door” of Mercy: the Basilica of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton (December 13 at 9:30 AM), the Shrine of Our Lady of the Isle, Eastport (December 19 at 11:30 AM), and the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington (December 19 at 4:30 PM). Each pilgrimage door site will have a specific day every week during the Jubilee Year when pilgrims will be able to enter, confess their sins, and pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
The journey through one of these rare designated “Holy Doors” is a short and simple journey that allows us to cross the threshold of Mercy into the Divine Presence of an all Merciful God who is Mercy itself.