Committee on the Jubilee Year 2000, Rome
The future of the world and the Church belongs to the younger generation, to those who, born in this century, will reach maturity in the next, the first century of the new millennium.
Christ expects great things from young people, as he did from the young man who asked him: "What good deed must I do, to have eternal life? (Mt 19:16)... Young people, in every situation, in every region of the world, do not cease to put questions to Christ: they meet him and they keep searching for him in order to question him further. If they succeed in following the road which he points out to them, they will have the joy of making their own contribution to his presence in the next century and in the centuries to come, until the end of time. "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 58).
Joannes Paulus II
A Gentle Touch of Hope
Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, President of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee 2000
It is easy to image what will happen: they will start by counting you, even if only approximately: "there were several hundreds of thousands of them."
It is always like this when you come together for some important event in some part of the world. Perhaps this is a distortion of those who judge you above all from the point of view of quantity.
Certainly, there will be so many of you a colorful stream winding through the streets.... But when it is - once again - the Pope who calls you, what importance has your number?
None at all, you are more than that: all together you become just one smile of God. This is your strength, and you are the first to realize it. For you are not merely the unclear reflection of that smile, you are its living image. You are the hoisted sails of the hope which Christ transmits to the world.
Now that the sun is setting on a millennium, there is need of hope in order to see the light of dawn amidst our misty surroundings. The dawn of Christ's new millennium.
You will be the ones to make the first imprint on the pilgrimage through the new centuries, this river of history which flows out - as you do when you return - to all four corners of the earth.
The Great Jubilee of the Year Two Thousand comes to remind us that two thousand years ago Christ became the companion of man's journey. And from that moment he has never left us. The event we are preparing to celebrate bears first of all the mark of a planetary thanksgiving to the world's only Savior, yesterday, today and forever. We all are part of this celebration, but the young people of Paris are a little more so because this meeting - as the Pope says in his message - will form "a living icon of the pilgrim Church along the roads of the world". In presence of the Holy Year Cross, which will have visited all the dioceses of France, all eyes will look towards Christ.
Yes, it is really true: Christ needs the hands of young people to give the world a gentle touch of hope.
- Its Jewish roots
- The Christian Jubilee
- The Jubilee of the Year 2000
The Christian Jubilee originates from the Old Testament and the Jewish custom of celebrating Jubilee years. The law of Moses, written in the Book of Leviticus, sets the seventh of a week of years as a sabbatical year. The Bible says "But the seventh year the land is to have its rest, a Sabbath for the Lord." All the fields, the vineyards, the olive groves were left uncultivated. The people were neither to plough nor sow, nor reap. Jews who had become slaves - because of unpaid debts - were to be set free.
Besides the sabbatical year, the Law of Moses also prescribed a Jubilee year. Every seven weeks of years, the tenth day of the seventh month the trumpets would sound throughout the land. From the book of Leviticus: "You will declare this fiftieth year sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the inhabitants of the land. This is to be a Jubilee for you, each will return to his ancestral home." Not only were the slaves to be set free, but land sold during the 50 preceding years was to be returned to the owners and all unpaid debts were remitted. In his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente the Pope explains that the tradition of a Jubilee year is one of the foundations of the Church's social teaching.
For the Church the Jubilee is "a year of the Lord's grace": a year for the forgiveness of sins and remittance of punishment for them, a year of reconciliation between enemies. Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the Church's first ordinary Jubilee in answer to the Christian people's desire for forgiveness of all sins in view of the end of a century and on the occasion of a pilgrimage to Rome. On a stone slab set in the wall of St. Peter's in the entrance hall we read: "... we concede in this year 1300 and every hundred years to come, full forgiveness of sins, indeed total remission of sins." The successors of Pope Boniface VIII set other dates and customs for the Jubilees which followed. Pope Clement VI set the period for every fifty years: the second Jubilee was in fact called in 1350. The Pope who introduced the rite of the opening of the Holy Door, first at Saint John in the Lateran, was Pope Martin V in 1425. The Pope who set the event for every 25 years was Pope Paul II with a Papal Bull in 1470. In 1500 Alexander VI decreed that the Holy Doors of each of the four Basilicas should be opened simultaneously, and that he himself would open the Holy Door in Saint Peter's. This rite is still performed on Christmas Eve of the year before the Jubilee year.
In his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente John Paul II speaks about the Jubilee of the Year 2000, proclaimed on November 10, 1994. This Apostolic Letter is the reference document for all Jubilee initiatives. It will be the greatest of all Jubilees so far because it comes at the end of a millennium. It is a celebration of the two thousand years since the birth of Christ. What is more, it is also the Jubilee which marks 2000 years of the Church's history. It will be a year of joy. Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul has encouraged us to cross the threshold of the third Christian millennium filled with hope, not to be afraid. This expression of his is now well known. In his Letter, the Pope underlines the strong Christological nature of the Jubilee. It is a celebration of the birth of Christ, "only savior of the world, yesterday, today and forever," the center of history and of our faith: God himself comes in person to tell mankind about himself. With his Incarnation, God entered human history, eternity entered time, time of which Christ is the Lord. This is why time is of fundamental importance for us Christians and we must sanctify it. All initiatives must aim at the primary objective of the Jubilee which is a strengthening of Christian faith and witness. Much of the Tertio Millennia Adveniente focuses on preparation for the Year 2000.
The Pope says that the Second Vatican Council was a providential event through which the Church already began her journey of preparation for the year 2000 and he indicates the dimensions of the journey. A historic dimension: the Church must cross into the new millennium fully aware of her history over the past ten centuries and ask forgiveness for her errors, her infidelity, incoherence, negligence. An ecumenical dimension: the Pope has always expressed the hope that the different Christian Churches may come to the Great Jubilee nearer to overcoming their centuries-old divisions. Renewed social commitment: for equality among all the children of God and the promotion of justice. The commemoration of Martyrs: in our century the martyrs have returned and their testimony must not be lost.
Three Years of Preparation
Each of the three years leading to 2000 is devoted to reflection on one Person of the Most Holy Trinity, to discovering a sacrament, a virtue, to focusing on a theological or social theme of great commitment for the People of God. Here is the journey the Pope has traced:
1997. Devoted to reflection on Jesus Christ, Savior and Evangelizer. To know more about the true identity of Christ, the Pope encourages us to re-read the Bible. He says we should reflect anew on our Baptism, the foundation of Christian life and communion among Christians of different Churches. This is a time to return to the catechism to reinvigorate our faith.
1998. The main commitment is to rediscover the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, principal agent of new evangelization. Christians should strive to have a new appreciation of Christian hope and of the sacrament of Confirmation. It will be a time to reflect on the value of unity within the Church
1999. The final year is to be a "journey towards the Father" together with Christ. The Pope encourages us to undertake an authentic journey of conversion of heart, not only so as to avoid all evil actions, but as an active option for doing good. This will be a time to rediscover the sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation and the virtue of charity. It will be an opportunity for the Church to re-affirm her 'option for the poor and the outcast' and to ask for a consistent reduction of the international debt which weighs so heavily on the nations of the so-called third world. This will be a time of dialogue with other religions.
2000. The celebration of the Great Jubilee will take place simultaneously in the Holy Land, in Rome and in the local Churches of the whole world to give glory to the Trinity...
The Year 2000 for Young People
What will be happening in Rome, what will people find in the city, will it be possible to live an experience of encounter and prayer even in few days?
The Jubilee year is perhaps a unique, unrepeatable opportunity to live together with the whole Church, to reflect, act and celebrate and we wish that all this be visible in all that we will undertake.
Certainly, for us, the high point of the year will be World Youth Day...
Once again we will come together around the Holy Father, to listen to the Lord's Word, to celebrate our being Church, to bear witness to our hope and our commitment to building the civilization of love.
During the year, however, there will be initiatives of various kinds of them some regular, others connected with particularly significant moments.
Please do not see these as a list, but try to see in them a journey: imagine a calendar, the days, weeks, months marked with many different events, some repeated regularly which will accompany our journey, whether we come alone or in a group, whether we stay a day or for a longer period.
So we will have: an "international" celebration of the Eucharist once a week on a set day; a prayer-evening in the various traditions and spiritualities of different Churches in Rome; a meeting with some of the Christian Communities present; a pilgrimage on foot following the traces of Christian history in the city to discover and visit places of early Christian testimony, the catacombs, the oldest churches.
There will also be times for spiritual reflection and prayer with emphasis on particular feasts: a vigil, singing and dancing, personal testimony; a happening, organized by young people who will take it on themselves to prepare and offer a welcome to young people from all corners of the earth.
This is just an outline. We have still to define the details and set a calendar of proposed initiatives to cover the whole year from the opening of the Holy Door to its closing. it will list all the possible events so people will know what is "on the program" and everyone will feel personally involved and encouraged to participate.
Time belongs to the Lord. The Holy Year is an is an occasion to affirm once again that God is Lord of our existence. We suggest that during the year 2000 you set aside a little of your time to make a gesture of solidarity, that you join in one of the projects involving young people of good will in different countries all over the world.
This will be a practical way "giving back" to the Lord some of the time he has given us and making a gift of it to others. This commitment could also be a visible sign of a deeper, fundamental decision: the decision to project your life towards God and your brothers and sisters.
- A Basilica
- The Catacombs
- The Holy Door
- A Holy Year
The first Christian Basilicas date back to the 4th century. They are spacious new buildings in which the Christian communities gather to celebrate their liturgy. Characteristic elements of the typical architecture of a Christian basilica are: the atrium or hall; a long interior divided into three or five naves, the apse where we find the sanctuary and the alter. Rome has four major Basilicas, visited by Christians on pilgrimage from all over the world: Saint Peter's in the Vatican, Saint Paul's outside the Walls, Saint John in the Lateran, Saint Mary Major's.
Catacombs, long underground tunnels which served as Christina cemeteries, were dug from the soft rock, not out of a need for secrecy but because of a lack of space. Among those buried in the catacombs were also the early martyrs, greatly venerated by the Christians. On the anniversary of the martyr's death, the Christian community would meet here for the commemoration. The use of the catacombs began to decline in the 5th century and continued to do so in the following centuries, aggravated by frequent sacking.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us He is the door to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Holy Door, opened at the beginning of each Holy Year in all four of the major Basilicas, symbolizes the loving kindness of God who throws open his arms to embrace all people of good will and calls them to turn to him, to welcome his forgiveness. So, by passing through the Holy Door pilgrims show their firm intention to turn away from their sinfulness, to change their hearts and reconcile themselves with God.
A year dedicated in a special way to the Lord. For the Jews everything connected with the Lord was considered "holy". This Jewish tradition is taken up by the Christians who make the Jubilee year a time for reconciliation, forgiveness of sins, re-establishment of social justice and renewal of faith-life through the recognition of God as Lord.
Testimonies (on the Jubilee Year)
Tommy, aged 18
To be honest I don't know much about it. The little I do know I have read in newspaper articles which speak of the event but in the context of other news.
In the world of young people the event has not yet registered, because of a lack of suitable information and also because of a lack of interest which is usual on the part of young people when they are not directly involved in something.
I often hear cynical remarks referring to the Jubilee only as the inconvenience of masses of people in Rome during the year 2000, or as a chance to find a temporary job, good or not so good. For my part, I think we need to be helped to realize the significance of this event and to live this appointment to the full. As a member of a Catholic Scout Association I imagine myself in uniform, surrounded by other uniforms, living a unique experience of brotherhood with the young people of the world.
I think that for the Church the Jubilee is an extraordinarily important step. The Pope is asking us to prepare for it and to give witness to our faith through our lives and our Christian commitment. I certainly hope the Holy Year will be a great event for the Church and that contacts between peoples of different cultures will mark the end of a century that was too often the theater of violence, of hatred and of racial discrimination.
Frederica, aged 23
The Jubilee, what an occasion!
If I lived far away I would probably want to come to Rome. I would be attracted by this great event. I would want to show by my presence, that for me, God is everything. I would like meet the Pope, to be moved by his words, to respond radically to the challenges of the third Christian millennium.
Rome fascinates me: its monuments, its churches, the catacombs... at every step art, culture, history. And behind all this the tangible testimony of so many martyrs and saints. We ought to get to know these authentic better Christians, perhaps through a new type of artistic tour which tells their story. But where are the Christians of 2000? I would like to meet them, I would like to be welcomed into a living community, a city that is well prepared. This is a challenge and a commitment, an opportunity for those of us who live in Rome.
I am at university. I have friends who are disappointed in life, they are diffident - at times 0 towards anything different; or otherwise they are angry or bitter because they feel helpless in the face of so much violence. I see much disregard for the dignity of the human person in the streets, in advertisements. And yet I still believe that God's love is stronger than all this. He loves us just as we are.
What do I expect the Jubilee to bring? That the life of Jesus among us will spread and transform society more and more, and so really build a civilization of love.
Helene, aged 20
The Jubilee of the year 2000 is for me a triple anniversary: of the Lord's coming among us, of our Redemption by his death and resurrection and of the foundation of the Church. It will certainly be a celebration, but it is also a challenge for each of us: where am I, personally, in my life, with God, with my faith in His Salvation, and with the Church? The fact that we will celebrate the Jubilee is an ideal opportunity for us, as baptized Christians, to remember that, despite all our differences, Jesus is our unity: He is the head of the body of which we are the members.
I wish to thank the Pope with all my heart because he never stops inviting us to look into our hearts and to take another step towards God.
Personally I ask God, for myself and for all believers, the grace to live better my baptism, wherever I am, according to his will. My hope is in Jesus' promise: "I am with you always, yes even to the end of time" (Mt 28:20).
Antoine-Marie, aged 25
The Jubilee will be first of all a wonderful celebration of the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Jubilee will bring together thousands of pilgrims in Rome and in Jerusalem, and also thousands of joyful Christians celebrating throughout the world the birth of Christ.
Our entry into the third millennium will bring with it its fears, its unhappy forecasts and its false prophets! But for me, the One who said "Do not fear" will be present to give us courage in a world where so many things and so many people push us to forget Him. "I am with you always" the Lord said, and this is what we will be celebrating. 2000 years of Christianity, 2000 years of men and women who have lived and who live in that love taught by the One whom the Father sent into the world. He became man. He entered human history. This is why for me He is truly part of my own history and of the history of all humanity since His coming on earth.
A celebration of conversion, of prayer, of sharing, the Holy Year will be a celebration for all believers in Christ, and an occasion to share and communicate the faith which fires us with those around us.
Suggestions for the Coming of the Year 2000
...Here are some suggestions, sown like little seeds in your heart. They are commitments which we put forward so that all of us, each according to his or her own story, may set out on a common journey with a project.
Welcome these little seeds, water them and make them grow for the year 2000. By opting for these suggestions, all or only one or two, perhaps those which seem most important, most significant, you will be choosing to walk with other young people towards the Third Millennium: in other words, you will be responding to the Pope's invitation.
- Get to know a Friend
- Time for God
- A ‘brother' or ‘sister' at your side
- Give your heart a holiday
- A visible gesture of peace
- A gift for others
- Come to the celebrations
To read the Gospel means to begin to learn about Jesus, to listen to his words, to be open to dialogue with him, to start out on an adventure leading to freedom: choose one of the four Gospels and make it your favorite book for the coming years.
Set aside every day at least five minutes for God: to pray, to be still, to listen, which ever way you like, but make sure it is his, all his.
Find someone, to be an elder brother or sister, a true friend. Someone you can trust, someone who will listen to you, walk the way with you and guide you, be there in times of difficult choices and also in times of joy.
Before the year 2000, give yourself a present of three days holiday, for prayer, reflection, listening, alone or with others, in a place or a community suitable for quiet listening and prayer.
Make a visible gesture of reconciliation. Build a bridge of peace by overcoming resentment and learning to make sure that "the sun never sets on your anger."
Think how you can organize your day, your week so as to devote some of your time to others, especially to those most in need.
There is a great appointment in Rome in 2000, for the Great Jubilee. Wherever you are, you, and all the young people of the world, are invited: it is something you cannot miss!