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Opening Holy Doors of Charity


By Monsignor Jack Schuler | Director of Mission Integration, Catholic Charities of St. Louis

On December 8th Pope Francis officially inaugurated the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy. Normally, Jubilee Years are held every 25 years but the Holy Father has proclaimed an “Extraordinary Jubilee” or Holy Year of Mercy. The year officially began when he opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. Over three million people are expected to walk through the Holy Door this Jubilee Year. Walking through the Holy Door symbolizes a new beginning, a deeper step into mercy.

I stumbled upon a very powerful definition of mercy, one that really describes the ministry of Catholic Charities. A Jesuit named James Keenan defines mercy as “the willingness to enter into the chaos of another person’s life.” That is what happens in all of our agencies every day. Our federated agencies serve a wide range of people: children who are dependent, abused and neglected; adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; women who are abused; parents and children requiring family counseling; people struggling as the result of drug abuse or alcoholism; older adults with special needs; and many more. Catholic Charities assists 124,000 people annually throughout 11 counties in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Our goal is clear. We seek to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and neglect, empower people to make permanent changes in their lives and support people to lead self-sufficient, dignified lives. We, at Catholic Charities, are a “mercy machine!”

Pope Francis showed us the way. The Friday after he opened the Holy Door he went to a homeless hostel and opened the “Holy Door of Charity.” May we continue to open holy doors of charity for all those in need.

May you have a Blessed Holy Year of Mercy.

P.S. Here are some other inspirational quotes about mercy:

  • “It is mercy, not justice or courage or even heroism that alone can defeat evil.” - Peter Kreeft
  • “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge.” – William Shakespeare
  • “Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.” – Robert Frost
  • “I believe in peace. I believe in mercy.” – Malala Yousafzai
  • “First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience.” – Pope Francis

For more information about the Year of Mercy including local events and pilgrimage sites, visit archstl.org/mercy.

This is the fifth in a 12-day series of posts with the purpose of helping readers deepen their appreciation for, and celebration of, the 12 Days of Christmas, a season which traditionally concludes with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.