Entering the Holy Door

Last night doors featured somewhat heavily in my rather bizarre dream. Thinking about it, I realise they were all about entering - or preventing entry - rather than about exiting. This, I suppose, is what happens when you talk about Holy Doors of Mercy with a friend. Over tea yesterday she'd told me (among other things) about her trip to Rome, and her prayerful pilgrimage through the Door at St Peter's. I then told her about my own encounter with a Door of Mercy - far more low-key and completely unexpected.

I'd been to an event at Littlemore, Cardinal Newman's old home, just after Christmas, and went along to visit the little shrine in his old rooms. And there, in front of me, garlanded with greenery but otherwise simple and unostentatious, was a Door of Mercy! Its unexpectedness stopped me in my tracks - I knew about the Holy Door at the Oratory, but not this one. In two seconds walking through a door - something I do, unthinkingly, countless times in any day - became a momentous yet quietly prayerful act.

When I first heard of all the Holy Doors being created for this Jubilee Year I didn't think of doors at all, but of entering the Heart of Jesus, the source of all love, tenderness and mercy, and the truest gateway to God. That was what flashed through my mind at Littlemore, as I stuttered on the threshold, along with some words from our Superior General's Christmas message on this theme to the Society:

How then are we invited to "enter the Holy Door"?

Sophie would ask us to enter with trust, desire and expectation the holy door of Jesus’ Heart, confident that God wants to share with us anew God’s merciful love. 

Let us enter the holy door of our own hearts, confident that the Spirit is present within us, opening, healing, giving life, breathing within us, that we may know and live the mercy of God. Perhaps this is a moment in which the Spirit wants to transform further some part of me, of us. Perhaps it is a time to receive forgiveness and welcome God’s merciful love, renewing us in the confidence that God calls us as we are to live the love of God’s Heart. Perhaps this Christmas is a time when I am invited to incarnate in a particular way the mercy of God. Perhaps... 

My friend entered St Peter's via the Holy Door and left via another, more ordinary one. This carries a rich symbolism, a deliberate one-way traffic which enters God's embrace but never leaves it. The Newman shrine, however, only has one door, and so my traffic was two-way - out as well as in. But this too carries a richness, especially for an RSCJ and an apostolic contemplative: having entered the Heart of Jesus, and discovering therein the depths of his tender, merciful love for me and for all; having experienced healing and transformation, my only possible response can be, has to be to go out - and make that love and its power known to all those I encounter, especially those who most need to experience it.

So let us all enter with trust, desire and expectation the holy door of Jesus’ Heart, confident that God wants to share with us anew God’s merciful love... and then may we go out, and proclaim that love with our lives...