Catholic Standard,Guyana, 18th November 2016
At the end of a special Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam last Sunday to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, the congregation carrying candles lit from the Paschal Candle processed out of the cathedral through the cathedral’s Holy Door of Mercy for the last time. Outside they quietly gathered on the steps and in the courtyard facing the Door of Mercy. Bishop Francis Alleyne said a short prayer as the parish priest, Monsignor Terrence Montrose, slowly closed the door shut.
Thus this Diocese brought to an end what Bishop Francis had earlier described as, “what has been an extraordinary time of grace and mercy”. Mgr. Montrose, saying “the Year of Mercy has finished, but mercy must continue” invited the faithful to take the candles home and to keep them as a reminder that we must continue to be merciful in our country, in our families and in our hearts.
In his homily at the Mass that preceded the closing of the Door of Mercy, Bishop Francis noted that that today there were many instances of brokenness in our country and in the wider world which can draw us to despair, desperation and depression. How-ever, he pointed out that the main emphasis of the Year of Mercy was to focus on and to open our hearts to the mercy of God and finding ways of bringing relief and new life.
He said it was suggested to him that even some nations today in selecting their leadership were identifying bullies who spoke harshly about dealing definitively with issues. He said we don’t hear the language of forgiveness or accommodation or of trying to reconcile, rather it is about putting things in order, control and displacing those who are judged unacceptable. Bishop Francis said this was an unfortunate presence which we see around us and which sometimes comes close to home.
He pointed out that one year ago we opened the Door of Mercy, came through it and immersed ourselves in the core teaching of Christ which is mercy and forgiveness.
As we process out at the closing of the door, he said, God wants us to be agents and heralds of that mercy, peace reconciliation and forgiveness to the world.
On December 13th 2015 at Brickdam Cathedral the Holy Door was opened and the worldwide Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis was officially launched in Guyana.
A Jubilee year is a special year called by the Catholic church to receive blessing and pardon from God and remission of sins.
In March 2015 the Pope announced that from Dec 8th 2015 to November 20th 2016 Catholics through-out the world would observe a Year of Mercy when they would reflect on the mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation God has shown us and how we might extend that mercy and compassion to others.
At the launch Bishop Francis cited a number of social ills that beset Guyana, including domestic violence, which has widespread negative effects, and urged that as a nation, as communities and as families, we look at those areas in our national and personal lives and where God mercy is most needed, recognize that and surrender ourselves to it.
The Holy Year of Mercy concludes on November 20th 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, with the closing of the Holy Door in the Basilica of St. Peter’s at the Vatican. Last Sunday, November 13th, the Jubilee was brought to a close in local churches worldwide.