The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is almost upon us!
On December 24, 1999, prior to celebrating Midnight Mass, Pope John Paul II will open the Holy Year door in St. Peter's Basilica and inaugurate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. A Jubilee which prepares us spiritually to enter the next millennium of Christianity. For young people and the people who work with them, this time can be opportunity to deepen our faith and renew our Christian witness. The Pope likens this time to an extended advent season (Redemptoris hominis, March 4, 1979, #1) which began with Vatican II (TMA, 20). It is a season of self examination, expectation and intense prayer; a season of hope, rooted in the presence of the Holy Spirit alive and acting in our world today (TMA, 44). During this time, we not only examine what changes need to be made but also celebrate the good already present in our lives, the Church and in our world (TMA, 46).
The year 1999 brings us closer to the threshold of the Year 2000 and the coming new millennium in 2001. For many people, we already have heard more than enough about the Y2K computer problem, those forecasting the end time, sponsors promoting the party of a lifetime, and advertisers selling the first gimmicks of the new millennium. But, these are not the only stories - there is also the wonderful faith story of two thousand years.
As Christians, we have our story to tell. We know and are called to share the greatest significance of the year 2000: celebrating and marking two thousands years of Christianity. The Great Jubilee is an invitation to "the Christian community to lift its eyes of faith to embrace new horizons in proclaiming the Kingdom of God" (IM, 2).
The Church's vision for the Jubilee is contained in John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente (On the Coming of the Third Millennium) and in his Incarnationis Mysterium (Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000). These messages reflect our past history and our hope for the future. The Jubilee year, a great anniversary of Christianity, is a time to "let faith be refreshed, let hope increase and let charity exert itself still more" (IM, 11).
The scriptural passages which frame this moment in history – Isaiah 61, Lev. 25, Luke 4, Hebrews 13: 8 - speak of this time as "a year of favor from the Lord." It will be a graced moment in history where, in faith, we will join the prophet Isaiah and the evangelist Luke in acknowledging that "the spirit of the Lord is upon us, because God has anointed us to bring glad tidings to the poor. God has sent us to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" (cf.: Luke 4: 18-19).
This time is an unsurpassed opportunity to engage in a renewed emphasis on evangelization of the Gospel in the world today; to embrace the spirit of reconciliation with God and one another; and to celebrate the tremendous impact that Jesus Christ has made on human history for two thousand years. It is a time for a new start with ourselves, our God and with each other.
in the Holy Spirit for the gift of salvation in Christ the Lord,
both now and for evermore. (IM, 14)
What Is the Jubilee Holy Year All About?
Since 1300, every twenty-five years, the Catholic Church has celebrated special years of reconciliation and redemption called "holy years." The celebration of the Holy Year in 2000, the Great Jubilee, takes on added significance since it marks two thousand years since the birth of Christ and is the passing of a millennium. The Great Jubilee is scheduled to begin in Rome on Christmas eve 1999 and end on Epiphany, January 6, 2001. For local churches, the Jubilee begins on Christmas Day 1999 and concludes on January 5, 2001 (IM, 6).
Why Celebrate the Jubilee Year 2000?
The coming of the year 2000 means different things to different people. It is truly a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" because only one in approximately every fifty generations experience the change of a millennium. It is a unique time which calls for an engaging message of faith, hope and charity.
"Do as much as possible to ensure that the great challenge of the Year 2000 is not overlooked, for this challenge certainly involves a special grace of the Lord for the Church and for the whole of humanity."
(Excerpts reprinted from Open Wide the Doors to Christ, A Framework of Action to Implement Tertio Millennio Adveniente, USCC 1996)
Here are four reasons to pay attention to this time in our history.
- We celebrate 2000 years of Christianity. Since a new millennium only comes once every thousand years—it is a unique moment in history that calls for an engaging message of faith.
- As a jubilee year, it is,"a year of favor from the Lord"—an opportunity to start anew, to undertake a new start with ourselves, our God and each other.
- We have been invited to participate in a journey/pilgrimage into the next millennium by the Holy Father.
- Anniversaries and celebrations are times to re-energize ourselves, refocus our attention on what is most important, and celebrate the good that is already present in our lives, our Church, and in society.
Eight Ways to Celebrate the Jubilee Year in Parishes and Schools
How will the parish commemorate and celebrate the Year 2000? The Subcommittee on the Third Millennium wishes to offer parishes and dioceses eight ways to celebrate the Great Jubilee Year 2000. These complement the themes of the Jubilee, connect with the liturgical year, and build on the spiritual renewal programs already underway in many churches. These suggestions have been developed so that they can be easily woven into current parish activities. While this resource suggests certain dates for the activities, each parish can determine what works best for its local situation.
A number of resources have been developed or will be developed to support these eight ways. As additional resources are developed, especially for the celebrations of the Jubilee Days, they will be available from the Secretariat for the Third Millennium and the Jubilee Year 2000 and placed on the secretariats website: www.nccbuscc.org/jubilee.
- The Pledge for Justice and Charity in the New Millennium (Advent 1999)
(As noted in Session 5 of this Guidebook)
- The National Day of Reconciliation and Pardon (Lent 2000)
- Diocesan Eucharistic Congress or Eucharistic Day Celebration
- A Parish Mission
- A Personal Pilgrimage
- Join a Small Christian Community or Faith Sharing Group
- Evangelization Sunday -- Being an Evangelizing Parish
- Celebrate the Jubilee Days -- Days of Celebration and Mission
Excerpts reprinted from A Parish Guide to the Jubilee Year 2000, USCC 1999.