Catholic Herald staff
The Diocese of Superior, along with dioceses throughout the world, celebrated the opening of its Holy Door, Sunday, Dec. 13.
Fr. James Powers, at the time diocesan administrator, now bishop-elect of the Diocese of Superior, presided over the ceremony and Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior.
Hours before the 4 p.m. Mass began, the faithful were gathering in Kress Hall to hear presentations by four speakers – Fr. Andrew Ricci, Debra Lieberg, Fr. Shaji Pazhukkathara and Lynn Tracy – relating to the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Mercy and inspiration
Vice president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Superior, Tracy is also in charge of charitable ministries at the cathedral.
Her aim wasn’t to educate listeners, she clarified.
“I hope when you walk out this door today, you’re inspired,” she said. “I hope you walk through the Holy Door having been inspired.”
Tracy shared lessons she’s learned while working with the charity. All four stories ended with death, but despite their struggles with abuse, drug and alcohol dependency, poverty and loss, her clients never wavered in their faith in God or their love for the Catholic Church.
Tracy herself struggled with the pain of trying to help others, and sometimes losing them.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be merciful, because it hurts,” she said.
Another lesson she’s learned: “In order for us to show mercy, we also have to seek mercy from God.”
Fr. Shaji Pazhukkathara, parochial administrator of St. Anthony de Padua, Park Falls, and its cluster parishes, spoke about how God bestows mercy.
“Every sacrament is a sacrament of mercy,” he said. From confirmation, which takes away our fear to witness, to ordination, where God prepares someone to be an instrument of mercy, each sacrament is an outpouring of mercy.
Reconciliation, he observed, is a sacrament all should seek more often.
“We are human, we need that sacrament to grow in richness of God’s mercy,” he added.
The priest believes doors are something people don’t think about until they don’t open.
“In life, we wait for certain doors to open – opportunity,” he said. “The opening of the Holy Door is Christ as a door.”
In the Christmas story, when Mary and Joseph knock on doors, they are repeatedly turned away. The only bed is a manger for the King of Kings, their visitors a bunch of shepherds from a cave, he said, “The birth of Jesus, the birth of mercy incarnate, I think once in awhile we need that story.”
Fr. Ricci, rector of the cathedral, shared the history of jubilees and talked about the relevance of doors.
“Why is a door important? Doors are thresholds,” he said. “There’s an inside and an outside.”
The character of each room is different, he explained. By crossing from the kitchen into the living room, for example, people live out different experiences.
Likewise, entering the cathedral from Belknap Street – a state highway and major artery through the city – is entering a sanctuary, a quiet space set apart from the bustle of the secular world.
Entering through a door is also an act of will, Fr. Ricci said. If one wants to leave a room, one chooses to go elsewhere. In walking through the holy door, people leave sinfulness behind.
“We go through the door to be changed,” he added. “Why? So that we can be change agents in the world.”
The liturgy began in Kress Hall, from where the faithful processed up the stairs into the cathedral in a mini-pilgrimage to the Holy Door.
Directed by Sarah Lyons, the Diocesan Chorale divided into two groups and sang antiphonally the official hymn for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
After the door’s official designation by Fr. Powers, all in attendance entered through the Holy Door, and Mass began.
The sacrament of reconciliation was available before and after Mass. To take advantage of the plenary indulgence, the faithful must enter through the Holy Door, go to Mass, go to confession and pray for the Holy Father’s intention.