Q: Could you give me information on what Pope John Paul says we should do as the Third Millennium draws near?

A: In l994 Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente (As the Third Millennium Draws Near), which outlines a six-year program of preparation for the year 2000.

Pope John Paul II asks that each of us "do as much as possible to ensure that the great challenge of the year 2000 is not overlooked." The Pope has called for a special jubilee celebration entitled Jubilee 2000. The special purpose of Jubilee 2000 is to give glory to the Holy Trinity "from whom everything in the world and in history comes, and to whom everything returns."

Jubilee is a word developed from the original Hebrew yobel, meaning a ram's horn. The term was used to herald "a year of the Lord's favor" (Is 61:1-2), when slaves were emancipated, lands restored to their original owners, and debts forgiven (Lev 25:10). The Catholic Church adopted the practice, and since 1300 has celebrated jubilees or holy years as times of repentance, special blessings, prayer, and pilgrimages.

...In celebrating Jubilee 2000 the centrality of Christ cannot be separated from the role of Mary, who is Mother of God and model of faith. On this "journey to the Father," Mary, the highly favored daughter of the Father, is for believers the perfect model of love of God and of neighbor. She alone responded to God's call with complete openness, and is the one inviting all to return to their Father's house.

The following table reflects the themes proposed by the Pope as the Millennium draws near. We invite you to reflect on these themes in your prayer groups and personally.

Year Trinitarian Theme Virtue Highlighted Sacramental Focus Mariological Theme Ecumenical Goal
Year 1, 1997 Christ the Son Faith Baptism Mother of God Sharing of Faith
Year 2, 1998 Holy Spirit Hope Confirmation, Charisms Openness to the Holy Spirit Christian Unity
Year 3, 1999 Father Charity Penance Universal Love Dialogue with World Religions and Cultures

This information was contributed by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., member of the Marianist community, Villa St. Joseph, Cupertino, California.

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