Closing door of mercy signals renewal, not end of good works
With a key, incense and prayers, the door of mercy was closed Nov. 13 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, marking the final days of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
The archdiocese was united with dioceses around the world in marking the jubilee’s end. The final Mass of the jubilee will be Nov. 20, the feast of Christ the King, in Rome with Pope Francis.
But the call to find mercy in Jesus and share that mercy with the world continues, said Father Michael Gutgsell, pastor of St. Cecilia Parish and rector of the cathedral, in his homily at the archdiocese’s 9:30 a.m. closing Mass.
God’s mercy never ends, Father Gutgsell said. "That is why at the end of Mass we are not simply dismissed. We are sent."
Father Gutgsell processed after Communion to the door of mercy, accompanied by concelebrant Father James de Anda, associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Omaha, Deacon James Tardy of St. Cecilia Parish, who assisted at the Mass, and others including Christian Brother William Woeger, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Divine Worship.
Father Gutgsell and Deacon Tardy locked the door, which remained closed through Nov. 13.
"Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with his anointing, so that the graces received throughout this Jubilee of Mercy may continue and your church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind," Father Gutgsell prayed, after blessing the door with incense and before processing back to the altar for the concluding rites of the Mass.
But the Nov. 13 Mass wasn’t the end of the formal role of the archdiocese in the Year of Mercy. Twenty-nine members of the St. Cecilia Choir will sing with several other U.S. choirs and the Sistine Chapel Choir at the closing Mass in Rome with Pope Francis.
The choir also gathered prayer petitions from people throughout the archdiocese to take with them, transcribed into a leather-bound book to be carried to the jubilee Mass.
The choir will sing at other celebrations, as well, including the Nov. 19 elevation to cardinal of Omaha native and Chicago Archbishop Blasé J. Cupich, along with 16 other churchmen entering the College of Cardinals, Father Gutgsell said.
And the choir will keep a blog on the Internet for the faithful to follow their pilgrimage, accessible on the home page of St. Cecilia Parish’s website, stceciliacathedral.org, Father Gutgsell said.
The choir’s departure was marked by a special Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral Nov. 6, with Archbishop George J. Lucas presiding and blessing the choir members.
In his homily, the archbishop said the jubilee’s closing liturgy will be even more beautiful with the choir’s participation.
"We are very proud of them for their dedication throughout the liturgical year, and for not only making beautiful music, but for helping draw us into the worship of almighty God," the archbishop said.
Speaking of the choir’s participation as a pilgrimage, the archbishop said such journeys are an important element of the Catholic faith.
"It is an important symbol of our Catholic experience because it reminds us that we are going somewhere … and that there is life beyond our imagining that God has planned for us when this life’s pilgrimage is over."
"But, because of our sinfulness, it would be impossible for us to receive that gift. It is only God’s mercy that makes that passage possible," he said.
The Jubilee of Mercy is not over, the archbishop said, so "today’s a good day to invite Jesus, the personification of the Father’s mercy, into your life, right into the place where mercy is needed."