On Saturday, December 12, 2015, the "Door of Mercy" at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral was opened after the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Reverend Christian Lépine, knocked on it nine times, while calling out: "Open, Door of Justice!"
It was the pope's wish: that every cathedral worldwide have a "Door of Mercy, so that each person that enters by this "Door" discovers the depth of the mercy of the Father, who welcomes us all and encounters each one of us personally. This is a year to grow in the conviction of mercy" (Vatican Radio).
Interviewed shortly before the beginning of the ceremony at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, the Archbishop of Montreal, Most Reverend Christian Lépine, said: "We all need God's mercy. This was Saint Theresa's major discovery! And we, as the people of God, greatly need to grow as people of mercy. We need to be witnesses of this mercy, and then missionaries of this mercy. As many faithful as possible have to benefit in a special way from this grace of mercy; it is a grace of consolation and conversion that helps us to become we ourselves instruments of mercy."
The faithful did indeed answer this call in Montreal, because more confessors were needed prior to the ceremony; one hour before, more were added to meet the continuously increasing demand. The church was filled to capacity, almost 1500 people, including the clergy (200 priests, deacons, seminarians, and acolytes).
The ceremony began with a long entrance procession, from the sacristy to the statue of Saint Peter, which included the Archbishop of Montreal, wearing a violet cope for the occasion, Bishop Thomas Dowd, auxiliary bishop, and Bishop Jude St-Antoine, auxiliary bishop emeritus, as well as Msgr. Michel Parent, Vicar General, and Father François Sarrazin, chancellor.
A reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke was chosen for the Gospel Proclamation (15:17), "The Gospel of mercy that Christ the Lord, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, proclaims among humans to all creatures, invites us to live on his love," stated the Archbishop.
Then, there was a reading of the beginning of Pope Francis's Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee, entitled "Misericordiae Vultus," which sums up what real mercy is: Jesus, the face of mercy of God, the Father.
Following this brief reading, the procession, led by the Archbishop and followed by all the clergy, began to move toward the back of the church, in the narthex, the enclosed vestibule at the entrance of the Cathedral, to open the "Door of Mercy," located to the far right of the narthex.
During this procession, the excellent choir Schola Laudem, directed by master cantor Alain Duguay, baritone, performed Psalm 85, "Tends l'oreille, Seigneur (Lord, lend me your ear)" by Joseph Samson, while the assembly sang the chorus, "Toi qui es bon et qui pardonnes, écoute-moi, Seigneur! (You who are good and forgive, listen to me, Lord!)"
Once the Archbishop arrived before the "Door," Schola Laudem completed their singing and the Cathedral was suddenly thick with silence. The Archbishop moved right up to the "Door" with the mallet someone had just handed him, and he knocked with it on the "Door" three times stating resonantly: "Open up, eternal doors! Let the King of glory in!" Then, we heard the master cantor solemnly say: "Who is the King of Glory?" Schola Laudem answered in song: "It is the Lord, the strong, the mighty, the Lord, the mighty in battle!"
The Archsbishop again knocked three times on the "Door": "Open up, eternal doors! Let the King of glory in!" The master cantor again asked: "Who is this King of glory?" And Schola Laudem answered joyfully: "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!"
The Archbishop knocked a third and final time on the "Door," still speaking with a resounding voice: "Open the doors of justice! We will enter, and give thanks to the Lord!"
We could have heard a pin drop in the Cathedral... Then, the Cathedral's pastor opened the "Door," and the Archbishop knelt down in silence for a long moment. He got up and, holding the Gospel Book out at arms length, he said with a booming voice: "I am the door, the Lord said!" Then, all the priests proclaimed in unison: "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
Thus, the procession began to move forward again, accompanied by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which added colour to the assembly, while the organist began to play the Hymn of the Jubilee, "Misericordes sicut pater" (Merciful like the Father), by Paul Inwood and Eugenio Costa, a hymn, need we be reminded, sung worldwide for the opening of all the "Doors." The hymn was sung by all, including the faithful, some of which joined the procession, until the Archbishop reached the cathedra in the sanctuary.
"Rejoice in the Lord always," were words sung in the hymn, "again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand."
After the hymn, a recipient filled with water was brought to the Archbishop, and he invited the assembly to pray: "Brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to bless this water. We shall be sprinkled with it in memory of our Baptism, which draws us toward Mercy and Salvation by virtue of Jesus Christ's resurection." The Archbishop came down from the sanctuary and crossed the Cathedral while sprinkling holy water on the silent and composed assembly.
The Eucharistic celebration began in joy. During his homily, the Archbishop recalled that Christians have to be disciples and missionaries of mercy in our society. "Some might say to me: 'Yes, but where to begin?' I have a suggestion for you: do not forget that Jesus Christ is the Door of Mercy, and it is through him that we receive Divine Mercy and that we become capable of mercy. And lastly, do not forget, recite the Jesus Prayer daily: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner." This prayer has the power to lead us to entrust our lives to the Mercy of God and to fill our hearts with peace. May we grow in faithfulness, patience, compassion, and reconciliation to together become the People of Mercy."
At the end of the Mass, Most Reverend Lépine recalled that the church would remain open for that entire evening: "We invite you to step through the "Door of Mercy." You will be the ones to decide at what time we will close tonight!"
He then invited the faithful, the parishes, and all the Christian communities to make a pilgrimage of Mercy at the Cathedral. "On this occasion, you could follow the proposed journey in four steps: cross the "Door's" threshold, meditate on "the Source of Mercy" (the white crucifix); experience the Sacrament of Mercy (confession); and spend a moment in adoration before the Lord present in the exposed Blessed Sacrament."
We would like to point out that the Archbishop of Montreal has extended the privilege of opening a "Door of Mercy" to some sanctuaries and other special locations in the archdiocese of Montreal.
All the parish churches of the archdiocese of Montreal were invited by Most Reverend Lépine to become "Churches of Mercy," by implementing activities in line with the Jubilee, and by organizing a "24 Hours for the Lord" on the Friday and Saturday before the 4th Sunday of Lent.
The "Door" of the Cathedral will remain open for the entire Year of Mercy, until Saturday, November 12, 2016. The Cathedral is open every day of the week from 7a.m. to 7p.m.
More information on the Year of Mercy