The Great Jubilee; the Year 2000

Gwen D. Wise

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Every 25 years since the 1300's, the Church has celebrated a holy year marked by increased repentance and conversion among her members. But never before has a holy year been anticipated like the Great Jubilee; the year 2000. Why?

Pope John Paul II explains in his apostolic letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente that "for the Church, the Jubilee is precisely this 'year of the Lord's favor'" proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:2). It is to be a "year of the remission of sin and of the punishments due to them, a year of reconciliation between disputing parties, a year of manifold conversions and of sacramental and extra sacramental penance" (#14). In light of the fact that 2000 years has passed since God entered human time, the Holy Year 2000 "will be different, greater than any other" (#16). It's a Jubilee year (read Ch. 25 in the book of Leviticus), a birthday, and an anniversary all rolled into one year long party.

Therefore the Church plans to express it's joy to all the world and invites all to rejoice in the gift of salvation with her. It's easy to see that as Catholics our response to the year 2000 is very different from that of the secular world around us. The Pope has called upon all families, the domestic Church, to join with parishes and diocese in preparing for and celebrating the Great Jubilee. In this final few months of preparation we are asked to pay special attention to the themes of God the Father, the Sacrament of Confession, and Mary the model of charity. A Jubilee year is a time of special dignity and justice for the poor, hence the request of the Church that rich nations prepare now to cancel Third world debt. In the domestic Church we can play a very special part in the cancellation of debts as we parents and children truly "forgive those that trespass against us."

The character of this time is one of joyful anticipation; a season of Advent. It is marked by increased prayer, good works and examination of conscience. As Catholic families, there are many ways we can prepare while being voices of hope in this culture of death.

  • Increase your domestic Church's outward observance of the feasts of the Liturgical year and invite extended family and/or neighbors to join you.
  • You might choose to study and attend the Easter Vigil Mass and bring home the holy fire or you could plan a Pentecost picnic.
  • Increase your prayers and sacrifices for the least among us: the unborn; the terminally ill; the poor.
  • Promote the presence of Christ in the saints as models of heroic virtue, especially those who have lived in the present century. The Holy Father has suggested this as an excellent way to evangelize our separated brothers and sisters and promote unity.
  • Plan a pilgrimage to a holy site or shrine near or far.
  • Read the Pope's Letter to Families or Letter to Children or Tertio Millenio Adveniente (available from the Daughters of St. Paul 1-800-876-4463 or

"I invite the faithful to raise to the Lord fervent prayers to obtain the light and assistance necessary for the preparation and celebration of the forthcoming Jubilee" Pope John Paul II.

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