Surprised by Mercy, or my accidental pilgrimage to the mercy door


On Monday morning, I had intended to go to the Dallas Museum of Art to kill time between a meeting in Deep Ellum and meeting my husband for lunch in Uptown.  Since I work on the weekend, Mondays are kind of like my Saturdays and I take some time for rest and cultural enrichment after a busy “weekend.”

Well, the Dallas Museum of Art is closed on Mondays, just like on every other day I’ve tried to go.  I will get there some day!

Instead, I went to one of my favorite places in Dallas, the Cathedral.  The whole idea of cathedrals is beautiful.  It’s a place of beauty and worship that belongs to the wider Catholic community.  I tried to go to an art museum, but the cathedral has art in its proper use, art meant to glorify God.  The entire building is an act of worship through craftsmanship and anyone can wander in off the street to marvel at it.

I started my taking some pictures of the outside.  My plan was to take pictures of the art, then go in the chapel to pray until lunch.


The Dallas Cathedral is also a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  These statues depict the appearance of the Virgin Mary (top right) to St. Juan Diego (bottom left), a native Mexican.  The Virgin is telling Juan Diego to gather some roses that have miraculously sprung up from the winter snow (that’s what Juan Diego has in his cloak, or tilma).  St. Juan Diego brought the roses to the local bishop as proof that the Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him to build a church on that spot.  When St. Juan Diego opened his tilma to present the roses, the tilma had on it a miraculous portrait of the Virgin as she had appeared to the saint, as a native Mexican princess.  That tilma still exists and still inspires faith in the Mexican people, in all of the Americas, and around the world.

After a while, I went inside to put into motion the second part of my plan: find a spot in the chapel to pray.

So I went in the side door past the church offices.  I donned my veil and found a convenient door into the chapel:


Wait a second, there’s something unusual about this door…

It’s the Divine Mercy Door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy!  I had forgotten about it!  Sometimes the fact that I am scatterbrained means that I get to surprise myself.

According to the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, “A holy door or porta sancta has been used since the fifteenth century as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. Often these rituals are associated with prayer, pilgrimage, sacrifice, confession, and indulgences.”  For this liturgical year, Pope Francis asked that all cathedrals and holy sites open a holy door for people to make pilgrimages.

Technically, I didn’t realize I’d have this opportunity today until just before I went through the door.  That feels like cheating and that’s one way I could look at it.  However, so many things converged to bring me to that place on Monday morning.  I had a meeting in the morning, I needed to kill time before lunch, the Dallas Museum of Art was closed, my first thought after that was to go to the Cathedral.  So, I’m crediting this to the Holy Spirit.

Because I didn’t have much time to overthink who I wanted to pray for as part of the pilgrimage, I just prayed for whoever needed it.  Someone probably really needed it and I’ll credit that to the Holy Spirit too.




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One Response to Surprised by Mercy, or my accidental pilgrimage to the mercy door

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience and the beautiful church.

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