Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Catholic Hermit on Holy Doors

The other day an elderly spiritual friend emailed news of diocese bishop desiring parishes to have holy doors in keeping with Pope Francis' declaration of the Year of Mercy and establishing a holy door such as Pope John Paul II dedicated for the new millennium in 2000.

However, the rector of their diocese cathedral was in a quandary, lasting a few days.  In fact, he contacted the parish council secretary three times--each to change which door of the church would be, in fact, the "holy door."  Finally, on the fourth change, he solved his great dilemma and had the secretary change the minutes to note that every door of the cathedral would be designated a holy one.

The only other changes to be made were to publish the updates in the parish bulletin and to ask the parish secretary to print out extra copies of the "indulgences" that those entering the holy door/s and doing certain religious practices and efforts would receive.

What are indulgences, many of this era may ask?  The following is a brief overview, beginning with the more general and concluding with examples depending upon the types of sins committed or indulged in.

"In the teaching of the Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins" which may reduce either or both of the penance required after a sin has been forgiven, or after death, the time to be spent in Purgatory.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".
"The recipient of an indulgence must perform an action to receive it. This is most often the saying (once, or many times) of a specified prayer, but may also include the visiting of a particular place, or the performance of specific good works.
"Indulgences were introduced to allow for the remission of the severe penances of the early Church and granted at the intercession of Christians awaiting martyrdom or at least imprisoned for the faith.[3] They draw on the Treasury of Merit accumulated by Christ's superabundantly meritorious sacrifice on the cross and the virtues and penances of the saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers in proportion to the devotion with which those good works are performed or prayers recited.
The information expands. Please indulge this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit.  The following are some examples of typically, contemporary, proffered actions which suggest that a person who fulfills them can receive remission of penalties of sins. 

"There are four general grants of indulgence, which are meant to encourage the faithful to infuse a Christian spirit into the actions of their daily lives and to strive for perfection of charity. These indulgences are partial, and their worth therefore depends on the fervor with which the person performs the recommended actions:
  1. Raising the mind to God with humble trust while performing one's duties and bearing life's difficulties, and adding, at least mentally, some pious invocation.
  2. Devoting oneself or one's goods compassionately in a spirit of faith to the service of one's brothers and sisters in need.
  3. Freely abstaining in a spirit of penance from something licit and pleasant.
  4. Freely giving open witness to one's faith before others in particular circumstances of everyday life.
"Among the particular grants, which, on closer inspection, will be seen to be included in one or more of the four general grants, especially the first, the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum draws special attention to four activities for which a plenary indulgence can be gained on any day, though only once a day:
  1. Piously reading or listening to Sacred Scripture for at least half an hour.
  2. Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist for at least half an hour.
  3. The pious exercise of the Stations of the Cross .
  4. Recitation of the Rosary or the Akathist in a church or oratory, or in a family, a religious community, an association of the faithful and, in general, when several people come together for an honourable purpose.
"A plenary indulgence may also be gained on some occasions, which are not everyday occurrences. They include but are not limited to:
  • Receiving, even by radio or television, the blessing given by the Pope Urbi et Orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world) or that which a bishop is authorized to give three times a year to the faithful of his diocese.
  • Taking part devoutly in the celebration of a day devoted on a world level to a particular religious purpose.  Under this heading come the annual celebrations such as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and occasional celebrations such as World Youth Day.
  • Taking part for at least three full days in a spiritual retreat.
  • Taking part in some functions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity including its conclusion."

[*Sorry! I can't get the two points in larger print to be the same as all the others.  No emphasis intended.]

Is there any blog reader still logged on and reading?  I admit I did not read through the cited passages; I've read such years ago.  It is kindly that Catholics are made aware of and given reminders of what religious and spiritual activities, postures, prayers, and liturgical functions of which we may partake and participate.  Many Catholics, perhaps, don't understand or aren't aware that there are many aspects to prayer, to communicating with His Real Presence, of making creative and interesting offerings in every present moment: love gifts to the praise of His Glory!

What seems of interest is that there remains this notion of keeping souls at what St. Bernard of Clairvaux describes as the second degree of love.  That is, to love because of a reward of some sort.  Love God for what He will do for the person.  Why not tack on the holy doors, the explanation of the four degrees of love, and explain the fourth and highest degree (in St. Bernard's schema)?  Love God in Himself.  Explain what loving God means in some every day examples--of loving Him because He is Love and for no other motive, no strings attached.

There is far more that can be explained about loving God in Himself, and how that love then filters and flows from His Real Presence, and covers with love, all of humanity and creation, all souls, all breath, all energy and beingness.

And, as for holy doors, do we really think that once we touch them and enter through, either going in or out, that they are at all holy?  Once we touch or pass through, the door is not holy, more than likely, unless we are holy, ourselves.  What seems to be of consequence, is to ponder this fact and to realize that it is not the door, but the spaces in which we go in, or the spaces in which we enter when going out of a door, and if we live out holiness in those vast spaces whether the spaces of our souls or the world at large.

It took me a second or less to have holy doors in the hermitage and figure which ones to designate.  There are only two at this point.  (Of course, they are not at all holy because I am not holy, not really, not enough at least by my own consideration.)  Put I like the idea of designating them as holy as well as the space within the hermitage and the space outside the hermitage: the entire world and cosmos.  

My spiritual father sent a Christmas card and some cash, with the notation:  "Get some ice cream to eat!" inside.  (He knows I am living lean, working hard, suffering much, perhaps taking things a bit seriously these days.)  However, I really cannot justify ice cream when Craig just called to say the bathroom door with frame I ordered, has come in to the lumber yard.  

Immediately, I thought:  That bathroom door will also be a holy door!  It is the first interior door installed in this abode.  It is a signal for the interior holiness necessary and the work my soul needs to tend to--yes, with loving celebration.  The money sent by the holiest of priests, my spiritual father, will go towards that holy door.  The priest's love and mercy, expressed tangibly with some cash, is what will make that door "holy." 

Love.  Love God in Himself.  Live and love the God's law of love.

(Note: Above extractions on indulgences are from Wikpedia internet site.)

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