Rev. Fr. Christopher NnubiaBy Rev. Fr. Christopher Nnubia

In the Bull of Indiction Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis says that "the practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a visitor, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination." (MV 14). Thus, every Catholic and indeed, everyone in accordance with his or her ability is to make a pilgrimage to reach the Holy Door in Rome or any other place in the world.

Some people may wonder what makes these ordinary doors holy doors of mercy and how they become holy. During the opening of the door, there were five parts that composed the liturgy, namely: the statio, either in the church or in another appropriate place; the solemn procession; the opening of the Door of Mercy and the entrance into the cathedral, the renewal of Baptismal promises and the celebration of the Eucharist. During the opening, the Arch/bishop used the words of Psalm 118:19 (Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord) to invoke the opening of the Door that leads to God's merciful heart made accessible through the open side of Christ on the cross (cf. Jn. 19:34). It is to be noted that every Cathedral or Church's door is a door of mercy. There are designated doors beginning from the Holy Door in Rome, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome- that is, the Basilica of St. John Lateran to the Holy Doors of different Cathedrals, co-cathedral or another church of special significance as being decided by the diocesan Bishop. Also, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop, similar door was opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims.

Every arch/diocese in Nigeria has two or more Holy Doors. In Abuja Archdiocese, there are six (6) Holy Doors at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral Garki, Christ the King Parish Kubwa, Sacred Heart Parish Gwagwalada, Ss. Peter and Paul Parish Parish Nyanya, St. Martin's Parish Lugbe and Holy Family Parish Life Camp. These Holy Doors of Mercy will remain open till November 20, 2016 when they will be closed as the holy doors of mercy.

When you make a pilgrimage to reach any of the Holy Doors, "it is a sign", according to Pope Francis that "mercy is a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice". By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, you will find strength to embrace God's mercy and dedicate yourself to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us. By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, you will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope, (cf. MV 3).

It is not just enough to make a pilgrimage to enter the Holy Door, the Holy Father says that there are steps of the pilgrimage to attain your goal as Jesus shows us:

  1. Judge Not and Condemn Not

Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul. How much harm words do when they are motivated by feelings of jealousy and envy! To speak ill of others puts them in a bad light, undermines their reputation and leaves them prey to the whims of gossip. To refrain from judgement and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment, our presumption to know everything about him, (cf. MV 14).

  1. To Forgive and To Give

You have to forgive those who offended you from your heart and ask for forgiveness from those whom you offended. You need to be an instrument of Mercy because it was you who first received mercy from God. You need to be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon you with immense generosity, (cf. MV14). Your generosity will lead you to reflect on the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

In conclusion, I urge you as a Catholic to create time to make your own pilgrimage according to your ability to cross the threshold of any of the Holy Doors. I did mine on Thursday, 31 March 2016 with my little friends to the six Holy Doors in Abuja Archdiocese. It was really a pleasant experience. May God grant you his mercy as you make yours either as a family, a group, friends or an individual.

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