Years from now, records will show that the special jubilee Year of Mercy decreed by Pope Francis began on Dec. 8, 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. If you ask the pontiff himself, however, he’d probably tell you it really got underway on Friday.
That afternoon, Francis headed across town to visit a hostel for the homeless run by Caritas, the main diocesan charity in Rome, in order to open a “holy door of charity.” In a sense, it was the natural follow-up to what happened on Dec. 8, when Francis threw open an ornate door to St. Peter’s Basilica that’s otherwise bricked up when jubilees aren’t underway.
That gesture traditionally is how jubilee years commence, but Friday’s rite was a novelty — a pontiff opening a door not to a church, where spiritual indulgences are on offer, but rather a charity center, where the “grace” dispensed is more tangible and this-worldly.
In most of the ways that matter, this was Pope Francis in his element.
Anyone who spends time watching Francis in action realizes he doesn’t particularly care for big ceremonial productions. He’s most comfortable in smaller, more intimate settings, especially with people who don’t qualify as VIPs, where he can set aside whatever speech has been prepared for him and go off-the-cuff in Spanish or Italian.
Celebrating Mass on Friday for a group of 200 people representing the various activities run by Caritas in Rome — homeless people, AIDS patients, mothers with developmentally challenged children, refugees, and so on — was, to hear Francis tell it, an expression of the heart of what the Year of Mercy is supposed to be all about.
Welcome to the Blog! I am a Salesian of Don Bosco and was ordained to the priesthood on August 26, 2000. I hope this site is a place of interest for you where you will find ideas and information on the Catholic faith and on Salesianity.