Making your own Holy Door of Mercy can remind your family to keep the Jubilee Year of Mercy everyday . . . and welcome your guests with a message of mercy. Here’s how.
by Jerry Windley-Daoust
The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy officially began when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 8, 2015. The Holy Door is a concrete symbol of Christ, who is the one door that leads to salvation (John 10:9), as well as the openness of the Church to all people, especially sinners. If you keep your home as a “domestic church,” then consider making the door of your home into a Holy Door of Mercy.
The special Rite of the Opening of the Door of Mercy in Local Churches calls for the Holy Door to be decorated with greenery and symbols of Christ. In addition, you might design a sign or placard with words about mercy—perhaps “Merciful Like the Father” (the motto of the Jubilee), a Scripture quote about mercy, or simply the word “mercy.” You can adapt the Rite of the Opening of the Door of Mercy in Local Churches into your own little family prayer service. Or, simply use the prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy offered by Pope Francis (see the end of this article).
In the life of the Church, symbols always point to a spiritual reality. Lead your family in a discussion of what it means to make your home “open to mercy.” What does that look like, concretely? Pope Francis has called upon Christians in Europe to open their homes to refugees fleeing the Middle East. While such an extravagant gesture may not be available to your family, think about some of the smaller, little ways that your family can practice mercy, both inside and outside of the home.
See The Jubilee Year of Mercy: 7 Things Your Family Can Do for more Year of Mercy ideas.
Using vinyl clings to make a Holy Door of Mercy
At our house, we used vinyl clings to make a Holy Door of Mercy.
You can get vinyl clings anywhere [including at Amazon] for under $10.
We had our youngest kids color in the letters that make up the word MERCY, which spontaneously sparked a discussion about the meaning of the word mercy. (Our explanation: It’s when someone ought to be punished for something they did wrong, but instead they are forgiven and not punished. We backed that up with an example.)
We found that the clings stick better if they’ve been wet…and if you haven’t colored the sticky side with marker. It probably would have been better if we had simply had the kids cut out the outlined letters.
We also had the kids draw symbols of mercy on separate sheets of vinyl. Granted, some of these symbols have meaning only to them, but the process and discussion were worthwhile. (“Um…I get that a rainbow is a symbol of mercy, but how is a bag of gold at the end of the rainbow…?”)
We also found that the whole thing looked better and stuck to the window better after we cut out the letters.
Besides being a great catechetical lesson for the kids, it is a great conversation piece for anyone entering our home. We’ll probably keep it up for Lent, at least.
Pope Francis’s Prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.