Pope Francis has declared a Year of Mercy, beginning on December 8, 2015, and continuing until November 20, 2016. The Year of Mercy is an Extraordinary Jubilee—a time of forgiveness and reconciliation, a time to celebrate the mercy of God.
“I have often thought of how the Church may render more clear her mission to be a witness to mercy…. Therefore, I have decided to announce an Extraordinary Jubilee which has at its center the mercy of God. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (cf. Lk 6:36). And this especially applies to confessors! So much mercy!
This Holy Year will commence on the next Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will conclude on Sunday, 20 November 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and living face of the Father's mercy…
I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God’s mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. Do not forget that God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness. Let us henceforth entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey: our penitential journey, our year-long journey with an open heart, to receive the indulgence of God, to receive the mercy of God.”
Read more about the Year of Mercy at the official web page for the Jubilee,http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en.html
Pilgrimage to Rome has been central to the Church’s Jubilee celebrations since 1300. At the four Major Basilicas in Rome—St. Peter’s, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major—Pope Francis will open the special Jubilee doors for pilgrims. In addition, every Cathedral church throughout the world is a designated place of pilgrimage during the Jubilee. At St. James Cathedral, Archbishop Sartain has designated the Cathedral’s great bronze doors as the Doors of Mercy for this Jubilee.
Archbishop Sartain has designated the Cathedral’s great bronze doors as the Doors of Mercy for the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The bronze doors, the work of sculptor Ulrich Henn, depict the journey of humanity towards the heavenly city. The left-hand door highlights Old Testament stories of the journey of God’s people. The story begins with Adam and Eve's first faltering steps as they leave the garden. The angel sends them forth, but one hand is raised in blessing: even at the moment of expulsion from paradise, the human family is accompanied by the mercy of God. Again and again, God reaches out to his people with merciful and compassionate love, bringing Noah to safety, leading the people of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea.
The New Testament door highlights stories of Jesus, who is God’s mercy made visible. It begins with Jesus' baptism - the beginning of his active ministry, and, for every baptized person, the beginning of the Christian life. The New Testament door continues with the healing of the paralyzed man. Jesus not only cures the man's physical infirmity; he forgives his sins as well. The figure just below who looks out at us and points boldly towards Jesus is the figure who, in that Gospel story, demands to know "who but God alone can forgive sins?" That question, the artist suggested, is one that all seekers must ask as they come to the Cathedral. The journey continues with Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where he is greeted with jubilation, people waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!"
The culmination of this human journey is depicted in the tympanum above the doors, which is a vision of the heavenly city using imagery from the book of Revelation. At the center of this city is Christ, the Lamb of God. Rivers flow from the city, and on the banks spring up trees, covered in fruit, full of life. Notice the angel in the upper right: where the first angel pointed the way out of paradise, this angel points the way to a new and greater paradise - through the Lamb of God.
The flanking bronze doors are unadorned except for the handles, which depict parallel scenes from the Old and New Testament. On the left, Jonah steps from the mouth of the whale; on the right, Jesus lifts the doubting Peter out of the water.
Click for directions to St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Washington.