MANILA, Nov. 27, 2015— With the Year of Mercy set to begin next month, Catholics are encouraged to go on a pilgrimage to designated “jubilee churches”.
But this time, in the Manila archdiocese, the clergy are pushing for the spiritual journey with a new twist— pilgrims will be issued “passports”.
Fr. Regie Malicdem, the archdiocese’s Chancellor, said it will be like a guide that contains brief history of the churches, schedule of parish services, and activities that the faithful have to accomplish in the pilgrimage.
He said the pilgrim passport is an initiative to make common activities in the pilgrim churches assigned by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
These include the Manila Cathedral; National Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Makati City; Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Mandaluyong City; Santuario de Santo Cristo in San Juan City; and Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City.
“Rectors and parish priests have been coordinating on how to make pilgrimages fruitful and meaningful to pilgrims,” said Malicdem, who is also rector of the Manila Cathedral.
According to him, the five churches were chosen for the pilgrimage “because of their connection to mercy.”
He said Catholics may start their pilgrimage from any of the churches but they will have to proceed to the parish office after they accomplished the required activities for stamping of their passports.
“Passports are available at all five churches. The may start and end at any church then they will also be given a certificate of pilgrimage,” added the priest.
Among the required pilgrimage activities include entering the “Holy Door”, silent adoration and meditation, veneration of the Jubilee Cross, and donating to the archdiocese’s charitable programs.
The priest said the Holy Year also encourages the faithful to understand the practice of “merciful love” by dividing the works of mercy into two kinds: spiritual and corporal.
He added that donations may come in cash or in kind and will be used to feed the hungry, provide housing for the homeless, and other projects.
Malicdem said no other than Pope Francis himself called on the faithful to make a pilgrimage because “mercy requires goal, dedication and sacrifice.”
Acts of mercy
For Fr. Jason Laguerta of the Office of the Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization, the archdiocese’s lead group for the Year of Mercy, a pilgrimage is a “good metaphor for life.”
“We are able to receive the mercy of God. Ritual is meaningless if not coupled with works of mercy and concrete actions towards charity,” Fr Laguerta said.
“Mercy is not just a concept or an abstract idea but an action word. It’s something that we do… perform acts of mercy to one another,” he said.
Aside from the spiritual benefits, the priests added that a plenary indulgence is also available to the faithful for making a pilgrimage.
Malicdem also said the Year of Mercy pilgrimage may be held next year starting from Ash Wednesday, which marks the season of Lent, until the Pentecost Sunday.
The universal Church will observe an extraordinary Year of Mercy as decreed by the Pope from Dec. 8, 2015 until Nov. 20 2016.
In Manila, Cardinal Tagle will start the celebration by opening the cathedral’s Jubilee Door and hold Mass on Dec. 9. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews)