Mahalo Ke Akua Blog
Opening the Door on a New Year: Pilgrimage to the First Holy Door Outside of Europe January 4, 2015 12:52
As our followers know, our name/logo “Mahalo Ke Akua” means “Thanks be to God” in Hawaiian. We aim to touch people of all faiths and backgrounds, because we believe the ideals of gratitude, humility and love should be principles of humanity.
Our faith background is rooted in Catholicism, but have always been open to learning about other faith backgrounds as we believe most of all in unity and love under one Creator, by whatever name you call Him.
When we learned of the first Holy Door outside of Europe in Québec City, Canada we started planning a pilgrimage to this rare symbol of universal faith and welcoming.
What is a Holy Door?
A Holy Door is a symbol of unity with the Universal Church. It is also a symbol of community assembly, an invitation to persons of good will to enter, whatever their religious denomination.
Each of the four papal basilicas in Rome has a Holy Door. They are opened during Jubilee years, when pilgrims (who have prepared themselves spiritually through discernment and prayer) enter through those doors to gain the plenary indulgence (entire forgiveness of sin that can normally only be granted by The Pope).
Holy Doors are sealed after the Jubilee, and opened only once every 25 years.
The Significance of Notre-Dame de Québec’s Holy Door
Notre-Dame de Québec was the first Catholic diocese north of Mexico and the Spanish colonies. Seen as the mother parish of all Catholic dioceses in Canada and the U.S.
On December 8th 2013, in a rare ceremony performed only once a generation, Notre-Dame became the seventh Holy Door in the Catholic world, the first outside of Europe (four are in Rome, one in Ars-sur-Formans, France, the other in Santiago de Compostela in Spain), to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the basilica.
Notre-Dame de Québec’s Holy Door is a heavy two-sided bronze door, with Christ on one side and Mary on the other. The closing ceremony was on December 28th 2014; the Holy Door will be locked until the next time the Holy Doors in Rome are opened, in 2025.
Learn More About Notre-Dame de Québec’s Holy Door at the links below:
Our Experience at Notre-Dame de Québec: The Day We Held Hands with Jesus
When we arrived at the Cathedral-Basilica, we had to wait in line outside the Garden of the Jubilee. I generally cannot handle temperatures below 80°F, and it was nearly a one hour wait in 14 °F weather.
They say the time spent in the Garden of the Jubilee should be used for contemplation to prepare you for your experience, and it’s interesting how my contemplation came about – at a point, my toes were in excruciating pain from near frost-bite, which made me think of my history of pain as a road to my spiritual enlightenment…
I used to not attend church regularly, claiming “love is my religion” and that I was “spiritual, not religious”. In Fall 2012, I experienced emotional pain so traumatic I turned to God and church. At Mass one Sunday, there was an announcement about a speech being given about “Spirituality vs Religion, Which Side Are You On?” which sparked my interest. The Priest who spoke was highly charismatic, and in speaking to him afterwards realized that even as a Catholic Priest, had interfaith leanings, which I was very happy to hear, as I also view my spirituality as universal. I started attending Sunday Mass regularly, because he changed my view of church, he and other Paulist churches introduced me to a new world of open and welcoming church communities. I started to get involved in discernment programs where I was guided by spiritual companions, Brothers and Sisters who became instrumental in my faith formation.
In January 2013, I experienced a significant heartbreak, and was convinced by a friend to shake it off with a weekend trip to Chicago, where I attended Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. The Priest’s homily reminded me of the importance of attending church regularly, “so that we can continually be rooted in the practice of forgiveness and love, so that we may BE love for a world that so desperately needs it”. That Mass marked a turning point in my life, a renewal of my faith, and in the months to follow, through a series of other God-sent experiences that came out of the initial experience of pain, I discovered my vocation.
The Holy Door is considered a passage to inner peace, and I realized in the Garden of the Jubilee that the pain leading up to the Holy Door was symbolic of the pain I experienced in order to get on this path of my faith journey.
The Holy Door itself is symbolic, with its depiction of a 3D open armed Jesus, as it represents so many things: a passage to peace, a sign of hope, the church welcoming all, Jesus as the door to Heaven, and holding hands with Jesus in order to enter.
The timing of our pilgrimage was significant as well – the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last weekend before the Holy Door was to close. Advent is both a beginning and an end (the beginning of a new liturgical year, and the end of the calendar year), and is a time of reflection and anticipation for the Lord’s coming. The parallels of passing through a Holy Door and receiving plenary indulgence at a time that is an end that gives birth to a new beginning is so rich in hope and renewal, the perfect way to end 2014 and welcome 2015.
During the Mass that followed our passage through the Holy Door, the Priest began speaking in French, luckily I was able to translate throughout the Mass for my Makuahine, but there was an alarmed look on many faces. The Priest stopped and announced, “I am aware that people have travelled from all over the world to visit our church, and yes, Mass will be celebrated in French, but regardless of culture and language, we are united by faith, so when we recite prayers and the Apostles’ Creed, please proclaim in your own languages, and we will celebrate together as one church”. This statement of unity and oneness made the pilgrimage complete, a wholly welcoming, renewing, enlightening experience of faith.
We hope that you have been inspired to make a Holy Door pilgrimage in 2025, regardless of your faith. Please join us in a community of love and unity. Aloha nui loa!
Mahalo Ke Akua #wisdomwednesday - Today's @mahalo_keakua Post September 24, 2014 12:01
I know many people who are incredibly faithful and live pono every day, but do not go to a place of worship because they’ve been turned off by some institutions that don’t practice what they preach, or don’t spread messages of aloha or love… for a long time I felt the same way, had some negative church experiences, so found it better to connect with Akua through nature, or in the ocean, and that was what I considered “my church”.
My makuahine lives in Toronto Canada, and on one visit, I was touched by her church community – first, by the importance they placed on music, but what most surprised and touched me was the sermon which emphasized the importance of not judging others, and being welcoming to all people, even those who may be rejected by other church communities – this struck me because it opposed an image that I had about “the church” or certain religious institutions/communities. On following visits, I continued to be impressed with the sermons there that emphasized the values of love, forgiveness, unity and having a positive influence on others.
Since I travel frequently, my makuahine encouraged me to visit a different church on each trip – apparently there’s lore that says you should make a wish when you enter a new church, but looking back I realize that she wanted me to see that there are positive church communities out there, and some of the most enriching lessons and insights I’ve been blessed with have come from these travelling church visits!
On “Wisdom Wednesdays” I’ll try to share these inspiring nuggets of faith that align with Mahalo Ke Akua Brand.
A perfect example came from this past weekend, on a trip to Arizona – on Sunday morning I Googled the closest church to my hotel and ended up at ASU Arizona State University – it always interests me to see young adults celebrating their faith together.
During the sermon, the Priest told a story about a realtor couple he knew about 20 years ago. The wife was more successful than her husband, and one day she was accused of wrongdoing by the board, instead of standing behind her, her husband recused himself. He figured if she lost her license, he was successful enough that he could support their lifestyle, and he would then be seen as the provider. The wife was cleared of the accusations, but the personal damage had been done, the display of envy and pride eventually destroyed their marriage.
The Priest used this story as an example to explain that envy is truly damaging to our relationships with one another. He reminded us to rejoice with those who rejoice, because when we see others receive a blessings, we should know that there are many more blessings where that came from. The Priest then spoke about his upbringing in San Diego California, and how he would sit by the harbor and watch the boats, and when the tide would come in, all the boats would rise up together. He used this as an analogy for blessings, when God’s grace touches one, it touches all.
I just remember thinking, “one love, that’s unity” – and then I thought about that moment years ago when my makuahine told me to make a wish every time I entered a new church. After that sermon, I felt like “making a wish” was a selfish act… So instead of making a wish for me, I said a prayer for humanity – that we may all succeed in accomplishing unity – together.