A Reason To Celebrate? Yes, But FirstŠ

by John Hogan

With the 'Great Jubilee' year 2000 just months away everyone is gearing up for something big. Cities and towns are preparing special 'New Years Celebrations'. Some religious sects and cults are flooding the tabloids with predictions such as the end of civilization or of the world by - you pick the means- aliens, natural disasters, nuclear war, a huge asteroid on a collision course with earth, or God. (Television has tried to give credence to these by exploring every sensational possibility!) Governments, banks, industries, and many individuals are more than a little nervous about the Y2K computer bug and are waiting to see what was missed in their preparation for the year 2000. So who is right and what are we in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal supposed to do?

We should take what is good from each of these groups. I am not saying that the world or civilization is going to end in the year 2000, but I do think we should listen to the counsel and prediction of our religious leader Pope John Paul II. He has said that he believes that there will come a "new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee if Christians are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit." But can we be "docile to the action of the Holy Spirit" if our hearts and souls have not been properly prepared? I don't think so - and neither does our Pope.

The Church has been preparing for this great "year of the Lord's favor" for many years. John Paul wrote "Šthe Second Vatican Council was a providential event whereby the Church began the more immediate preparation for the Jubilee of the second millennium." In 1994 Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente, laid out a detailed plan for the preparation of the Great Jubilee by the Church and the faithful. This plan calls for repentance and reconciliation at every step of the way because he knows that we cannot be sensitive to the gentle urgings of the Holy Spirit if we have sin separating us from Him. Likewise, if we have grievances, misunderstandings, or hard feelings separating us from some of our family members, prayer group members, or other brothers and sisters in Christ we must make a genuine effort to settle the differences that keep us apart. If we do not settle these matters they will keep weighing heavily on our hearts and minds, thereby distracting us from and blinding us to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We are all used to celebrating 'jubilees' of one sort or another. The Church has been celebrating a jubilee every 25 years since the year 1450 but never has there been a 2000 year jubilee. We mark 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries with special celebrations and we always prepare for these celebrations. We usually bring a gift to the celebration and are invited to partake in a "feast" of some type. We would never think of going to this special event dressed in stained clothes, inebriated, and intending to argue with the other guests. We would certainly not be one of the most favored guests at the gathering and would most likely bring sorrow to the "Guest of Honor". And yet that is exactly what we would be doing if we allow ourselves to come to this most special celebration of the Great Jubilee of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ stained with sin, inebriated with worldly things, and without love for our neighbors. We want to come clothed in white, not necessarily without worldly goods but not enslaved to them, and with love as our gift. It's the love that is the key. It is our love for our Lord and for each other that allows us to partake in His love for us.

When Jesus was asked "Which is the first of all the commandments?" He replied: "ŠYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mk 12: 28-31

It was because of His love for us that He died for our sins. It is because of His love for us that He is so eager to forgive our sins. As the father in the parable of the prodigal son was so eager to forgive his lost son and gave him gifts, so our Lord is with us. He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, and to gift us. He wants to be invited into every part of our lives so that He can do what He was sent to do. But we must be open and attentive to the Spirit. He came as a strong wind to the apostles at Pentecost but most of the time He comes to us as softly as a baby's breath - the 'Breath of God'. That is why we must be so in tune with our Lord or we will miss the gentle nudging of the Spirit. And all of this together is why we need to seek forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with our neighbor.

As for the celebration, our Church begins it's celebration on Christmas 1999 with the opening of the Holy Door in Rome and will continue through the year 2000. There will be celebrations in Rome, the Holy Land, and in the local churches throughout the world. Our 'Holy Door' at St. Peter's Cathedral in Marquette will also be opened on Christmas 1999. The year 2000 will be the year of the Trinity. Our objective will be to "give glory to the Trinity, from whom everything in the world and in history comes and to whom everything returns."

But because Christ is the only way to the Father, in order to keep in mind His "living and saving presence in the Church and the world, the International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Rome, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee" Pope John Paul II has said that "The year 2000 will be intensely eucharistic: in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the Savior, who took flesh in Mary's womb twenty centuries ago, continues to offer Himself to humanity as the source of divine life." And now you know about the 'feast' at this great celebration. Should we then celebrate? Oh, yes! After our preparation I think we should celebrate as if our very soulsdepended on it!