(Special from Reverend Rommel Tolentino)
On December 8, 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, His Holiness Pope Francis opened the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to inaugurate the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Normally, the Holy Doors are located only in the four major basilicas in Rome (St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls), but the Holy Father made an exception by decreeing that every cathedral in the world designate a Holy Door so that those unable to make a pilgrimage to Rome can participate in the special graces obtained by walking through the Holy Doors during this Year of Mercy.
On December 13, 2015, His Excellency The Most Reverend Glen John Provost opened the Holy Doors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Lake Charles. All the entrances of the Cathedral have been designated as such. In a Pastoral Letter for the Year of Mercy, Bishop Provost explains the significance of entering through the Holy Doors: "Here special indulgences are granted and we can participate in this significant act of entering God’s house and demonstrating our own willingness to welcome Him into our house. There mercy is found. Let the door of God’s mercy be opened. Like the prodigal son, let us renew our faith in the existence of God and His mercy. Let us return to God’s house. Let the doors of our hearts be opened through repentance and conversion from sin. May we love more completely our God who is 'rich in mercy'.”
Every time we walk through the Holy Doors, we can receive a plenary indulgence. Many people, including Catholics, do not understand the Church’s teaching on indulgences. Emily Stimpson, writing for Our Sunday Visitor, explains: “When most people hear the word ‘indulgences,’ they think of Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation and the few bad apples who, in the late Middle Ages, promised people a quick escape from purgatory in exchange for generous charitable donations. But indulgences are so much more than their checkered medieval history suggests. They are an ongoing manifestation of God’s mercy in the world, freeing us ‘from every residue left by the consequences of sin,’ and enabling us to ‘act with charity’ and ‘grow in love’ (Misericordiae Vultus, No. 22).
As the Church understands it, through the centuries, by God’s grace, holy men and women have done good works. They’ve prayed, suffered, sacrificed and served. And the more they’ve done that — the more they’ve responded to God’s grace with faithful, loving obedience — the more grace God has poured out upon them. Through this loving, fruitful exchange of grace and good works, something like an excess of merit and grace builds up. We call this excess ‘The Treasury of the Saints.’ It is, in a sense, like a bank account of graced merit, which the rest of us can draw upon in order to escape temporal punishment for our sins.
Or, as Pope Francis put it, ‘[the saints’] holiness comes to the aid of our weakness in a way that enables the Church, with her maternal prayers and her way of life, to fortify the weakness of some with the strength of others’ (Misericordiae Vultus, No. 22). That aid can be plenary (meaning full remission from temporal punishment for sin), or just partial...”
RULES AND CONDITIONS
Here are the rules and conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence:
1) Only one plenary indulgence can be granted per day.
2) The plenary indulgence may be applied to oneself or a departed loved one.
3) It is necessary to be in the state of grace, at least by the completion of the work.
4) Freedom from attachment to sin*, even venial sin, is necessary; otherwise the indulgence is only partial.
(*By this is meant attachment to a particular sin, not sin in general.)
5) Holy Communion must be received each time the indulgence is sought.
6) Prayers* must be recited for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought.
(*No particular prayers are prescribed. One Our Father and one Hail Mary suffice.)
7) A Sacramental Confession* must be made within a week of completion of the prescribed work.
(*One Confession made during the week, made with the intention of gaining all the indulgences, suffices.)
The Holy Doors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are open Monday through Friday from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (Holy Mass at 12:05 P.M. with Confessions 30 minutes before Mass except on Friday when Confessions begin at 11 A.M. ), Saturday from 3:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. (Holy Mass at 4:00 P.M. with Confessions beginning at 3:00 P.M. ), and Sunday from 7:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (Sunday Masses at 7:30 A.M. , 9:30 A.M. , 11:15 A.M. , with Confessions 30 minutes before each Mass) and then again from 4:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. (Mass in Extraordinary Form at 5:00 P.M. with Confessions from 4:15 P.M. to 4:45 P.M. ).
We have also designated certain days throughout the Year of Mercy when the Cathedral doors will be open for pilgrims ALL DAY:
January 20, Wednesday, 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
January 21, Thursday, 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
February 10, Ash Wednesday, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
March 21, Monday of Holy Week, 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
April 3, Divine Mercy Sunday, 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
May 5, Ascension Thursday, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
May 26, Corpus Christi Thursday, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
June 3, Friday, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
June 29, Wednesday, Saints Peter and Paul, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
July 19, Tuesday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
August 22, Monday, Queenship of Mary, 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
September 8, Thursday, Nativity of Mary, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
October 13, Thursday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
November 1, Tuesday, All Saints Day, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
November 20, Sunday, Christ the King, 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Visits to the Cathedral at any other time may be arranged by calling the church office. What an exciting year ahead of us! We thank the Holy Father for proclaiming this Year of Mercy. We thank our Bishop for opening the Holy Doors at the Cathedral. We thank God for His great love and unfathomable mercy. Let’s pray that our hearts may be wide open to the tremendous graces God wants to pour out upon us during this Jubilee Year!