A light in Europe

Compostela Holy Year inaugurated 31st December

With the opening of the Holy Door in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, on December 31 commenced the Holy Year 2010 of Santiago de Compostela, whose motto is “On pilgrimage towards the light”. Faithful from across Europe and from the rest of the world will be arriving to visit the Tomb of St. James the Great. During the solemn rite the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Msgr. Julián Barrio Barrio, opened the holy Door, stroke the stone wall three times, crossed the threshold of the Door also called the “Door of Forgiveness”, and presided over the Eucharistic celebration. “We must urgently shed light on the urgent questions regarding the present and the future of our society, be vigil before the idols that cause defeat and death, display the ongoing and concrete love towards all human beings and fortify Christian hope that day after day helps us overcome the anguishing concern for the present, and the skepticism that makes difficult the exercise of the truth”. In the ongoing de-Christianization process, the Holy Year is “a source of light and grace for contemporary man, who is experiencing a profound moral, cultural and social crisis”. The Holy Year 2010 is the 119th year of a story begun in 1120 with Pope Calixtus II, who gave Compostela the privilege of granting the grace of the Jubilee when the saint’s day, 25th of July, fell on a Sunday.An opportunity. On the occasion of the “plenary indulgence”, Benedict XVI sent a message to the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela that was read during the opening of the Holy Year by the apostolic nuncio to Spain Msgr. Renzo Fratini. In the message, the Pope writes that the Compostela Holy Year is a “special opportunity for the believer to reflect on his true vocation to holiness of life, imbued with the Word of God that illuminates and summons, and to know Christ, who comes to meet him, accompanying him in the vicissitudes of his journey in the world and delivered to him personally, especially with the Eucharist”. Santiago de Compostela, continues the Pontiff, “is distinguished from ancient times for being the eminent destination of pilgrims, whose steps have paved a road named after the Apostle, to whose tomb come people from the most diverse regions of Europe to renew and strengthen their faith. A road strewn with signs of fervor, penance, hospitality, art and culture that speaks eloquently of the spiritual roots of the Old Continent”. Along the Way, writes the Holy Father, “arise new horizons, that help reconsider the narrow paths of one’s own lives and the vastness that human beings have within and outside themselves, preparing them to follow the true desires of the heart. Pilgrims, open to wonder and to transcendence, must allow themselves to be instructed by the Word of God so as to divest their faith of ungrounded beliefs and fears”.Becoming witnesses. Benedict XVI “asks God to accompany pilgrims, to make Himself known and enter their hearts so they may have life and in abundance. This is the true goal, the grace which the mere physical journeying of the Way cannot achieve alone, and which leads pilgrims to become witnesses before others to the fact that Christ lives and is our undying hope of salvation”. “During this Holy Year, in keeping with the current Year for Priests, a decisive role falls to the clergy, whose spirit of welcome and commitment to the faithful and to pilgrims has to be particularly generous. Pilgrims themselves, the priests are called to serve their brothers offering them the life of God, proclaimers of the Divine word and of all that is sacred”. Hence, the Pope calls upon the priests of the archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela, and on all those who join them during this Jubilee and those of the dioceses crossed by the Way of Compostela to pay particular heed to “the administration of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, because the most sought-after, valuable and characteristic element of the Holy Year is forgiveness and the encounter with the living Christ”. Finally His Holiness expresses his “particular closeness to the pilgrims who are arriving and will continue to arrive in Santiago”, inviting them “to treasure the profound experiences of faith, charity and fraternity they encounter on their journey, and to seek especially to live the Way as an interior experience, responding to the call that the Lord makes to each one of them. So they will say with joy and determination in the Gates of Glory ‘I believe’. “”I invite them too”, he concludes, “as they say their prayers, not to forget those who were unable to accompany them, their families and friends, the sick and the needy, emigrants, those whose faith is fragile and the People of God with their pastors”.

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