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Closing the Holy Doors

Two days ago, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, as we always do on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. This year, however, was especially important in the life of the Church because it marked the close of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Being in Rome provided me and a few other seminarians the opportunity be in St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis closed the Holy Door and celebrated Mass. Watching the ceremony for the closing of the Holy Door, I was overcome with emotion. Unlike at home, where our Cathedral and a number of our parish had certain doors designated as Holy Doors for the duration of the Jubilee Year; here in Rome the Holy Doors are permanent fixtures of the major basilicas. These ornately decorated portals are only open during Jubilee Years and remain sealed shut in between. Watching the Holy Door close at St. Peter’s, I knew that it would be a number of years before I would be able to pass through that particular Holy Door again, if the Lord ever gives me the blessing of returning to Rome during a Jubilee Year again.

The irony of the whole Mass was that, even though the Holy Door was now closed, the prayers, readings, and homily seemed to proclaim the exact opposite! As he closed the Holy Door, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would renew our hope in Christ the Savior, the “door always open” to those who seek Him with a sincere heart. Our Gospel presented to us Jesus as the true King, who rules with meekness and humility. From His throne of the cross, we hear Jesus say to the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” In this way our King opens for us the true Holy Door which will never be closed, the Door to Heaven.

In his homily, Pope Francis stated, “A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: ‘What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?'” This question should resonate within the hearts of all Christians. Perhaps for some, the answer will be found in setting aside the materialistic view of the upcoming holiday season in favor of spending more time focusing on family and those things which are really important. For others, following Jesus our King may mean dedicating more time to serving others as a concrete continuation of the actions undertaken during the Year of Mercy. I pray that for many young men of our diocese, responding to this question posed by Jesus means more seriously considering the call to follow Him as an instrument of His mercy in the priesthood. I invite you all to join me in this prayer that our diocese would have many more seminarians and priests in the near future!

A detail of one of the images on St. Peter's Holy Door.

A detail of one of the images on St. Peter’s Holy Door.

Deacon Joshua Nevitt
Joshua Nevitt attends The Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy.
Deacon Joshua Nevitt

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