So I started my pilgrimage to the Holy Doors (Porta Sancta) this Maundy Thursday, with family in tow. Thinking it was the perfect time to do it, we made our first stop at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.
First Church: Manila Cathedral
Not knowing what to expect, we went to the cathedral and was surprised to find a large throng of people outside the church walls. There was a chrism mass going on which was officiated by Cardinal Luis Tagle and attended by several priests all over Metro Manila. This mass is especially celebrated for priests after all, in commemoration of the institution of the holy priesthood established by Jesus Christ.
After the mass, we went our way through the parish office, to be informed that the Pilgrim’s Passport would be distributed at the front of the church. By the time it was our turn, we passport ran out and we would have to wait for the next batch of distribution in the afternoon. Rather than be disheartened, we made our way to the next church.
Second Church: Shrine of the Divine Mercy
We reached the shrine around 1pm, when it was hot and humid. The church was overflowing with people, but in a smaller scale that was manageable. There was enough passports to distribute to pilgrims. Except for my son, all 4 of us were given passports.
After completing the steps required, we had our passports stamped at the parish office. Because it was Holy Week and there were many people in the churches, it took us more than 2 hours to complete everything. We decided to complete the other four churches (including Manila Cathedral) on a later date.
Important Things You Need to Know
There are a few things that you should know before going on a pilgrimage:
- The Pilgrim’s Passport is free, however you may make a donation of any amount. The pilgrimage is not advisable for children below 15 years old.
- Each of the five churches indicated in the passport has it’s own set of steps. Read the instructions in the passport as this will be your guide in completing it. No shortcuts please. You may try to do this, but our Lord will know it.
- The Jubilee Year of Mercy runs until November 20, 2016, so anybody wanting to complete it can spread out and plan their pilgrimage carefully.
- The most important part of the pilgrimage is not just going there, but what you get in return. Please have the purity of intention. It is not a field trip. In visiting the Holy Doors, you get a plenary indulgence for your sins. For a complete understanding on this, you may want to read more on how a plenary indulgence is obtained. Visit the Divine Mercy website for details.
- The passport only lists 5 churches, but there are other churches that have been identified by other dioceses. I am posting the list of churches from the Diocese of Cubao and Pasig City. Every diocese in the country has the authority to designate a Holy Door within their area. I would suggest that you check your local diocese for information.
- For those who are sick or incarcerated, Pope Francis has also given special attention to them. These are special instances and the details are discussed in the Vatican’s Misericordiae Vultus.