The term Open Door policy appealed to me but when I researched its original meaning I found it had economic and political implications around world trade. In a sense economics and politics still play a role in how we live but mainly our concern is safety and security. Churches have been robbed and many remain locked. Others have a side door open for worshippers to pay a visit. I haven’t seen much evidence of meaningful action around the Holy Doors yet but know of upcoming missions and some activities that can include Healing and Reconciliation.
The article in the new edition of Family Matters magazine on “The Family and the Face of Mercy” lists some suggestions of to-do’s for families. First is discussion around the Word. Next it discusses pilgrimages and holy doors. In his document Pope Francis speaks of the merits of the doors. “The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.” (MV3) In all dioceses, also deaneries or special churches and shrines there will be “holy doors.”
The magazine article suggests that each family could also choose a “door” leading into their own home as a sign of God’s mercy. A door evokes the idea of a home, a family united and secure behind the door. A house becomes a home after family members pass through the door to rest, sleep, eat, laugh, plan or simply be a family. Outside they are individuals. But while safe and secure behind a closed door, often with an additional security gate or electric fence, families also need to be able to reach out and have at least a symbolic Open Door policy, to welcome others to visit and enter and so make our home a place of pilgrimage. Extended or estranged family members and visitors could unite with the family present and adopt Pope Francis steps to conversion: Judge not, Condemn not, Forgive and give. In other words, “Do as you wish it to be done to you.” Opening our door for a Family Paschal Meal, or Reconciliation service, Stations of the Cross for and by families can all enhance our understanding of the family as the smallest unit, the domestic church too.
Family pilgrimages can be made to the special Holy Door churches on their particular occasions or to others that have a special significance, e.g. where parents were married, children baptised, a cemetery or garden of remembrance where loved ones are remembered. Keep in mind, as Pope Francis does in his booklet Misericordiae Vultus, that not all family members necessarily belong to the Catholic or the same Church so how can they all be accommodated? I wish to make a suggestion. After all the beauty and grandeur of the Holy Week and Easter celebrations on Easter Monday, which is after all Family Day in South Africa, the Holy Doors in the special churches could be left open and families be invited to come by and pay even a short visit, together, at any time to offer their prayers of thanksgiving to the Risen Lord and renew their commitment to be Merciful like the Father, before continuing on their pilgrimage of life. A simple prayer leaflet can be made available for this. Would that every family, community, society and country were to practise a kind of Open Door policy as a small step to renew the face of the earth. TR
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