THIRTEEN cousins with Fr. Paolo OCD went on a pilgrimage to four Holy Doors in Bacolod City. We started with Immaculate Concepcion Parish at Villamonte, where Fr. Paolo started with the blessing of the pilgrims. He expounded on what a pilgrimage is all about, in reference to Pope Francis Misericordiae Vultus.
A pilgrimage represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. To reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone will have to make a pilgrimage.
The pilgrim literally destroys his/her usual structures to set a goal. When one is on a pilgrimage, the pilgrim does not work on it but rather disposes his or herself. As we dispose of ourselves, we are not in control of the situation. A pilgrimage is shared with others or with a family, like in our case.
I give myself to live with others, perhaps for a long time or a short time and during that fragment of time, I learn to accept the uniqueness of everyone. We adjust to each other’s pace, acknowledge the different idiosyncrasies, and in the process, we practice corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Mercy becomes a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. When we cross the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.
The ultimate goal is Christ and we can accomplish that threefold: the decision to destroy and tear ourselves from our comfort zones, the desire to embark on a pilgrimage and embracing each other’s personalities. Open to the unpredictability, the day becomes a day of learning, a day of blessing.
In the second door at the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Barangay Mansilingan, Fr. Paolo explains the granting of indulgences. We are people of habit, we patronize our sukis, we love certain food, clothes, exercises, authors, teleseryes, etc. and we all have our favorite sins done repeatedly that we can actually tape them and press play when we confess.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgives our sins, which He truly blots out. But weaklings are lure to the world; we succumb again and again to the same sin. It is a vicious cycle of goodness in-goodness out; garbage in-garbage out. But the mercy of God is stronger even than our favorite sin.
It becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who reaches the pardoned sinner. It is the Father who indulges us with His mercy so that we are strengthened against our own weaknesses. The purpose of the indulgence is that once we enter that Holy Door, we enter a new life, a life of fullness fortified with God’s mercy. We enter the door begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful “indulgence.”
Our next stop was at St. Jude’s Thaddeus Parish in Barangay Alijis. Fr. Paolo started with a quote: “Happy are those who fear the Lord.” There are two kinds of fear, said Fr. Paolo. There is the fear of a servant to his master called servile fear and filial fear when children fear their parents because they have offended them.
What kind of fear do we have for the Lord? Most Christians’ anxiety is servile fear because we fear punishment from the Lord. On the contrary, we should be confident of God’s love because we are His children, He is our parent.
In this Year of Mercy, we should develop the fear of offending the Lord by our sins. Sins always have its consequences and others will be affected by our sins. When our God indulges us, He also addresses the temporal effects of sin. The indulgence received brings healing to the people we have hurt or those who have hurt us.
Holy Father asks us to reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often dulled. Looking into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy, let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.
And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently to those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
Divine coincidence as it is, we ended our pilgrimage at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Bago City on the feast of the Chair of Peter. The chair signifies an office, a responsibility. This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in His place as the servant-authority of the whole church. We are enjoined to pray for our priests and pastors to be better inspirers who have the responsibility to teach and guide us.
Every chair of responsibility is a seat of wisdom, honor and legacy. A mother’s chair at home is a responsibility. Your seat in your office is significant of a responsibility. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, in whatever chair we occupy, whatever our work is, it is the work of Christ.
We are the disciples of Christ.
Pope Francis said that as His disciples, we should live out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to us. From the heart of the Trinity, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people draw from it because the mercy of God never ends.
It was a short pilgrimage for our family but it was a day full of blessings! Thank you Lord for your mercy!