The Coming of the Third Millennium, the Year 2000 AD

Authored By: Deacon John Taylor

The Coming of the Third Millennium, the Year 2000 AD, the Jubilee year

(The first in a series of short articles on the Jubilee year 2000)

The Pope wrote a letter to the whole church that was published in 1994 announcing that the year 2000 would be a Jubilee year and asking the church to begin preparing.

That's great! That's wonderful, but when I heard about it I just had just one small question. What's a Jubilee? It sounds like something important and joyful, but I wasn't sure whether I should go on a pilgrimage, or sit and pray, or help decorate my parish church, or what.

It turns out that a Jubilee is a year of reconciliation with God, and our families, and our neighbors, of receiving favors and blessings from God, a year of the remission of sins and of the punishment we deserve from them. Pope John Paul says it's to be a new springtime for the church, and that's us, we're the church. There are records of Jubilee years in the church dating from 1300 and indications are that they were celebrated before that. Normally these occur every twenty five years, but this one is special because it marks the beginning of the third thousand year period since the Word of God, Jesus, came to become one of us, a human being.

Personally I can identify with the idea of this kind of celebration. We who are married celebrate each anniversary, but some are extra special, like when we complete 25 years, our silver anniversary, and very especially when we celebrate 50 years, our golden anniversary. The church is like that and certainly 2000 years deserves an extra special celebration.

It turns out that the idea of Jubilee years goes back far into the Old Testament, to the book of Leviticus. In the 25th chapter, God commands Moses to set aside each 50th year as sacred and tells how it is to be observed. Take the time to read it and meditate on God's words to his chosen people and consider how his commands could be applied to our time.

Since this is a particularly significant Jubilee, the Pope has asked all of us to begin to prepare for it starting this year. Now, I've gotten into this late and I suspect you have too, so we need to begin right now, today. Try to find a copy of the Apostolic letter, it's called "Tertio Millennio Adveniente". Most Catholic book stores will have it and it's even available on the internet, (go to www.ewtn.com, go into the library and download "jp2third.txt" for the full letter, or "springtm.txt for a summary, then call it into a word processor and print it).

In the time left in 1996, pray and read to learn what a Jubilee year is, as always, come to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, and be reconciled with God. In 1997 we will be called to consider who Jesus is, to us and for us, then in 1998 we will do the same for the Holy Spirit, and in 1999 for God the Father. Finally in the year 2000, if we have prepared, there will be a springtime of great joy and blessings for all of us who profess the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith.

May God bless you and guide you as we all prepare.

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The Coming of the Third Millennium, Jubilee 2000 How do we prepare?

(The second in a series of short articles on the Jubilee year 2000)

OK, now you know that the Pope has asked the church to prepare for the coming of the third millennium by celebrating the year 2000 as a Jubilee year. You even know that this will be a celebration, that it'll mean a special time of renewal and rebirth in the church, a springtime. We even know it'll be time of favors and blessings from God. Great! Now what?

We Catholics always start anything dedicated to God with the sign of the cross. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Appropriately enough, the Holy Father suggests that we dedicate 1997 to Jesus, the Son of God; 1998 to the Holy Spirit and finally 1999 to God the Father. Each year will be a time of preparation, a time to pray, to study and to draw near to God.

Our bishops have asked that we begin the time of preparation for the year of Jesus, in Advent of 1996. It's interesting that we just finished what's called "ordinary time" with the feast of Christ the King on November 24th. The gospel of the feast presents us with an extraordinary picture of Jesus as the God King, surrounded by the angels, seated on a royal throne judging all mankind. It shows Him separating us into those destined for Heaven and those destined for an eternity in hell. The image could be depressing except for the fact that we, the living, can always decide to make a new start, no matter what we've done in the past.

The Church begins the new cycle in Advent with readings of expectation, of anticipation that the savior, the messiah, is coming.

It's a time of excitement, of celebration and yet do we really consider why we exchange gifts at this time of year, why we gather with people we love. Is it just a custom? Do you just exchange "season's greetings"? Is it just a season?

This year let it be the year of Jesus, the Son of God. Christmas is the remembrance of the birthday of Jesus. It's His birthday party! Wouldn't it be strange if we ignored Him? Certainly we give gifts to those we love, but it should be because of our joy in sharing the love of God. That's the crux of the season, that's the point. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, so please begin with the Advent season to make this year special.

Now I don't know about you, but when I'm preparing for a celebration, I do a lot of cleaning and I start with myself. That's where we need to start getting ready for Christmas. Our parish will have a penance service and that'll be a high priority for me. I need to be clean spiritually as well as physically. Isn't it odd, but when I clean up for someone else, it makes me feel good too. No preparation for Christmas is complete without the sacrament of reconciliation. It's the place to start.

Most holidays include a big family meal. Use that custom to prepare for Christmas and the year dedicated to Jesus. Spiritually we need nourishing food to be healthy, the food of life, the Eucharist. Begin in Advent to attend mass at least on Sundays and holidays, but find other times too. Come when it's convenient, and come when it's not convenient. If you truly want your faith to grow feed it with frequent reception of the Eucharist. Weekday mass is special, so too is Saturday morning mass. If you can, come 15 minutes early and prepare with us by joining in the morning prayers of the liturgy of the hours.

Above all, start with daily prayer. Come to know Jesus by spending time with him. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time every day. The results will surprise you!

May God bless you and guide you as we all prepare.

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The first year of the immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000

(The third in a series of articles on the Jubilee Year 2000)

This is the Year when we will reflect on Christ, the nature of faith and the Sacrament of Baptism

I guess we should start with the question that Jesus posed to Peter. "Who do you say that I am?" We as Catholics must take those words to heart, and over the next year must prayerfully examine what we ourselves believe and what our church teaches. In addition we must examine our consciences to see what difference our beliefs have made in our lives.

Who is He? Well, in the creed at mass we say we believe "in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord". Stop there and ask what that means to you personally.

The name Jesus means in Hebrew: "God saves". That's the name given Him by His Father through the angel Gabriel when he appeared to a young Jewish girl named Mary. It expresses both His identity and His mission. We poor wretched creatures who were made in the image of God had wandered so far from God that there was literally no hope for us. Frankly we deserved an eternity of suffering and damnation, and yet for all that the Father loved us. In the depths of our sinfulness, God sent Jesus, His eternal son to save us, to redeem us. That's the reason for joy at Christmas, not lighted trees, or Santa Claus, or family meals. God loves us! God sent Jesus into our world as a man like us, except for sin, so that we could share in the glory of God! That's the cause for rejoicing, that's why we sing carols, that's why we set up nativity scenes, to remind us of how greatly God loves us!!! Anything else is fluff!!

The very name Jesus has become a prayer. In the year ahead notice how often the church uses it. All liturgical prayer ends with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ". This is the "name above every other name". Many of the martyrs died with the one word "Jesus" on their lips. Do we treat it with the reverence it deserves, I hope so. In the year ahead let's make a firm resolution to make it the center of our prayer life. When we're tempted to sin, to do something against God's laws, say that word again and again. The devils fear that name, they tremble at it, even on the lips of we frail creatures. Use it as a shield, use it as a weapon. The Eastern churches teach what they call the Jesus Prayer, simply say as you breathe in and out, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner". This is a beautiful and powerful way to draw close to God, to still your soul, to come to peace in the midst of turmoil. Try it in the year ahead!!

Jesus is called the Christ. No, it's not his second name, it's a title. The word comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means "anointed". In Old Testament times, those consecrated to God for a mission were anointed. This was done to kings, to priests and sometimes to prophets. Jesus fulfilled the mission of the messiah hoped for by Israel and is at one time priest, prophet and king. His consecration occurred at the moment of His baptism by John when the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. The Father anointed Him, the Holy Spirit was the anointing. His works and words showed He is the Holy One of God. Deep stuff, isn't it!! It'll take a year to just begin to probe it. Please take this seriously. Meditate on it, ponder it, pray over it and about it. Is Jesus your Lord? Remember, to confesss or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in His divinity. Scripture says "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit". All of us have been baptized, most of us have been confirmed. By those two sacraments we were consecrated to God, in those two sacraments we were anointed and the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Because of this, we can turn to God the Father as our Father, and to Jesus as our brother and can always expect help in living a holy life. It's all there for the asking!! In 1997, ask for help and you'll receive it, seek it and you'll find i t, knock on the door of holiness and it'll be opened to you. It's time to begin, to make a new start, so let's go!

Deacon John Taylor, St. Mary of the Mission Parish, Opelika, Alabama

Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN Online Services.

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