…the image of a door is liminal,
passing from one place into another
one state to the other…
Doors opening, closing on us
Marge Piercy, 1936
We have a Pope who loves to put his message across through symbolic actions and gestures. He has called for a year of Mercy at a time when the world faces so much conflict, violence and upheaval. He wants this year to be marked by the symbolic symbol of an Open Door. Indeed how many people see so many doors shut in their face: the homeless, the unemployed, the migrants and refugees. Even Mary and Joseph found the door firmly shut when they had arrived in Bethlehem, for there was no place for them in the Inn.
Significantly, the Pope himself opened the first door of the Holy Year, not in Rome, but in Bangui in central Africa. He drew the world’s attention to the people on the periphery, while he was visiting them, seeking to open the door of peace in a divided country.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church has become caught up in the Pope’s magnanimous gesture towards the world when it was designated to host one of these symbolic doors for the Jubilee Year. For this reason, to mark the opening of the Holy Year, a Christmas Carol Service was held on the 17th of December during which the Holy Door of Mercy was blessed. The service marked the beginning of the Christmas Novena, at the end of which the Holy Door will be solemnly opened at the Midnight Mass.
The Carol Service was presided by Brother Richard Hendrick OFM Cap, who has worked extensively with youth. He spoke of how God, in His mercy, grants us new beginnings. This, he said can be seen reflected in the life of Matt Talbot himself, who at the age of twenty-eight made his basic life choice and returned to the sacraments which transformed and sustained him. After the homily, Fr Richard conducted special prayers of benediction and carried a burning light from the Crib to the Shrine of Matt Talbot. Fr Paddy Madden, the Deanery Vicar, Fr Eugen Timpu, Chaplain to the Romanian Community and Fr Richard Ebejer, Administrator, assisted at the Service.
It was indeed an evening of both devotion and talent; the singing was conducted by the Romanian Youth Choir, ably led and directed by Mihaela Chirvase, and supported by the youthful tempo of the visiting youth choir, Teen Spirit, from Laurel Lodge. Caithriona, the Parish Vocalist gave a beautiful rendition of a Marian Hymn, while the Vietnamese Salesian Students rendered one of the Carols in their native language. Our resident Salesian musicians Fr John Quinn, Br Sean Feeney, Fr Cyril Odia and Fr Hugh O’Donnell supported with their skills. The combination of the different styles and talents helped to enhance the evening and highlight the significance of the occasion.
To mark to opening of the Jubilee of Mercy, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin opened a Door of Mercy at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Marlborough Street, Dublin. The Holy Door looks to the altar of St Laurence O’Toole, patron of the Archdiocese, celebrated as a man of mercy.
Holy Doors of Mercy are also being opened in the Archdiocese at shrines of special devotion: apart from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Sean Mc Dermott Street, Dublin, where the remains of Venerable Matt Talbot lie; doors are also being opened in the Church of St Francis Xavier in Gardiner Street, which holds the remains of Venerable John Sullivan; the Parish Church of Sts Peter and Mary in Arklow; and also at the House of Mercy in Baggot Street, established in 1827 by Catherine Mc Auley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.