Québec Region hosted my visit. All thoughts are my own.
A few weeks ago I was hosted by Québec Region to attend the opening of the Québec's Holy Door. It was my first time visiting Canada, and I fell in love with the city of Quebec! More to come on that soon. For now, I want to share with you the experience of being at Notre Dame de Québec, and the reopening of the only Holy Door in North America.
The Holy Door at Notre Dame de Québec is one of seven, with four Holy Doors in Rome, one in Ars-sur-Formans in France, and one in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Notre Dame de Québec is very special to the Vatican, and celebrated its 350 year anniversary last year, in 2014.
Being able to attend the reopening of the Holy Door was not just historic for me, though that part of the event was very special, too. The Notre Dame de Québec is on the list of National Historic Sites, and has been at this location since 1647. But being a Christian myself, the Jubilee of Mercy is an exciting spiritual time. As the Holy Father stated at the beginning of the New Year, "This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!"
I personally belong to a church whose main purpose is to share the Gospel. In these turbulent times, all believers have been instructed to "Go Forth!" and tell others about Christ. Though many are fearful about the direction of the world, we can know that God is in control, and share that peace with others. The timing truly could not be better for a Jubilee Year of Mercy.
According to Pope Francis, those who enter through the Holy Door, also considered a Door of Mercy, "will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope." Hope is what we desperately need right now. I love how this statue of Christ on the altar is victorious. Photographs do not do this church justice. It is just awe-inspiring.
The last Jubilee Year was in 2000. In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all the children of Israel. It offered new possibilities to families who had lost their property, some even losing their personal freedom.
The Catholic tradition of the Holy Year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Pope Boniface VIII had once envisioned a Jubilee every ten years. Beginning in 1475, in order to allow each generation to experience at least one Holy Year, the ordinary Jubilee was to be celebrated every 25 years. However, an extraordinary Jubilee may be announced for an important event. Though the door was opened in December of 2013 for one year and then closed again, this year marks the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, giving many people, once again, the opportunity to pass through the Holy Door.
Below is the Holy Door as media was setting up, before the processional preceding the opening of the door.
A service first took place outside before Cardinal Gerald C. Lacroix knocked three times on the Holy Door, as is tradition, to symbolize the people on the outside of the door asking Jesus to open the door. To pass through the door means to confess that Jesus is Lord, or symbolize new life with Him.
Cardinal Gerald C. Lacroix just before entering through the Holy Door on January 12th, 2015. What a moving photograph, with the hand out Jesus seeming to welcome us all.
The photo below is of Cardinal Gerald C. Lacroix kneeling at the Holy Door. As you can imagine, the media area was very crowded. Thank you to Daniel Abal for sharing his extraordinary photos.
After the reopening of the Holy door, our group was able to attend mass given by Cardinal Lacroix. The readings were from the Book of Luke, which contains many readings of mercy, like the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the merciful father.
As the mass was in French, I didn't understand much of it, but later, I read about what Cardinal Lacroix shared:
"May all those who will walk through this door during the Jubilee of Mercy, whether they are faithful or far from the faith, experience an encounter that will allow them to let themselves be loved by a God that only desires their happiness."
I can tell you that the choir sounded like what I would imagine angels sound like in Heaven. It was very moving.
In the homily, Cardinal Lacroix said the Gospel expresses "our desire to live in joy, this aspiration for peace and serenity that manifest the deepest part of our being need to be converted. This is why we need to contemplate the mystery of mercy." In the current state of our world, these words could not be more powerful.
Just being in this incredibly beautiful church was an experience I won't soon forget. It was special to see Cardinal Lacroix also exit through the door, which is not the usual practice, but symbolized Christians going out into the world with mercy for all.
The Notre Dame de Québec Holy Door will remain open until November 13, 2016, and then will be sealed shut again. The museum will reopen in January, and will have pieces never before seen by the public.
If you have the chance to visit Quebec, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre Dame is a must. You don't get the chance to experience history like this very often. Check their website for special events and times.
Just 20 minutes from the airport, Quebec offers lovely hotels, wonderful restaurants, and quaint shops for bringing home your little piece of this gorgeous region. It truly does feel like you are in France.
Please let me know if you visit. There is so much to see, and three days were not enough time. I hope to return with my family, and would love to hear about your experience! Share in the comments below.