In opening the holy door with three strokes of a hammer, We shall be conscious of performing no mere traditional act, but a symbolic rite of high import not only for Christians but for the whole human race.
We like to hope that this triple stroke may re-echo deep down in the souls of all those who have ears to hear. Holy Year, year of God; of God Whose majesty and grandeur condemns sin; of God Whose goodness and mercy offers pardon and grace to anyone disposed to receive it; of God Who in this Holy Year wishes to come still closer to man and to remain nearer to him than ever before.
How many people look on sin as a mere “weakness,” and even make of this weakness a virtue! How many set up their idols in the place of God, or, while affirming their belief in God and their desire to serve Him, fashion for themselves an idea of Him which is the product of their own desires, of their own inclinations, of their own weaknesses! This explains why there are so many who are Christians merely through habit, so many who are listless and careless, and on the other hand so many souls that are tormented and without hope, as though Christianity were not itself the “good tidings”.
False ideas of God, vain creations of minds all too human, which the Holy Year must dissipate and banish from the hearts of men!
To you do We appeal, children, who are far away, lost, deluded, or embittered, and especially to you for whom treacherous words and perhaps a shortsighted view of reality have stifled in your hearts the affection you once had for Holy Church: do not spurn the offer of reconciliation which God Himself offers you through us during a truly acceptable time. From this moment on, be assured that sweet are the ways that lead back to the house of the Father, and full of joy is the embrace that awaits you.
May the holy year mark the return to the Redeemer Jesus Christ for souls allured by sinful attractions and living far from the Father’s house. There are believers and Catholics whose spirit is weak, also, for the flesh makes them traitors to their rightful duties and forgetful of the real treasures, and who live in a continual sequence of desertion and half-hearted returns. They are wrong if they think they possess the Christian life and are pleasing to God unless sanctifying grace dwells habitually in their souls.
Owing to easy compromises between earth and heaven, time and eternity, matter and spirit, they are drawn into the danger of dying of misery and hunger, far away from Jesus, who does not admit among His followers those who want to serve two masters. For these wounded in spirit, lepers, paralytics, broken branches without the life-giving sap, may the Holy Year be a period of healing and amendment. The angel of the pool of Probatica desires to renew for all of them the miracle of the heal-ing waters. Who will not wish to be bathed in them?
The venerable Father of the gospel story is waiting anxiously on the thresh-hold of the holy door for the contrite return of the prodigal son. Who will wish to remain obstinate in the desert of his guilt?
If the jubilee is a time of extraordinary return for men, it will be for God an occasion for more generous and loving pardon.
And who does not stand in need of God’s forgiveness? Although the Lord is ready to pardon, He does not dispense the sinner from the necessity of sincere repentance and due expiation.
Let the Holy Year, then, be chiefly a year of repentance and expiation. Interior and voluntary repentance together with expiation are the indispensable prerequisites of every human renovation. They signify a halt in the downward course, they express an acknowledgment of one’s own sins, they manifest the sincerity of one’s good-will.
May peace, the object of Our ardent yearning, return at long last to the hearts of all: to families, to individual countries and to the community of nations; may “those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake” (Matt. 5, 10) be blessed with that dauntless fortitude which adorned the Church with the blood of martyrs from the very beginning; may refugees, prisoners, homeless exiles be enabled as soon as possible to find their way back to the fatherland they cherish; and may the consolations of divine grace lighten the pain and anguish of those who are suffering. Let Christian modesty be the shining badge of our strong-hearted youth, as they grow and develop in Christian virtue; let their elders show them the way by their example; to all, finally, may it be given to enjoy that heavenly grace which is the harbinger of the reward of eternal happiness in Heaven.