Manual Courageous Gift of Life Unites Two Families (Jubilee A Good News Publication Book 51)

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In fact, what has been said above already includes some elements of such a programme. A more detailed plan of specific events will call for widespread consultation, in order for it not to be artificial and difficult to implement in the particular Churches, which live in such different conditions. For this reason, I wished to consult the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and especially the Cardinals. I am grateful to the members of the College of Cardinals who met in Extraordinary Consistory on June , considered numerous proposals and suggested helpful guidelines.

I also thank my Brothers in the Episcopate who in various ways communicated valuable ideas, which I have kept carefully in mind while writing this Apostolic Letter.

Frederick Douglass

The first recommendation which clearly emerged from the consultation regards the period of preparation. Only a few years now separate us from the Year it seemed fitting to divide this period into two phases, reserving the strictly preparatory phase for the last three years. It was thought that the accumulation of many activities over the course of a longer period of preparation would detract from its spiritual intensity.

It was therefore considered appropriate to approach the historic date with a first phase, which would make the faithful aware of general themes, and then to concentrate the direct and immediate preparation into a second phase consisting of a three-year period wholly directed to the celebration of the mystery of Christ the Saviour. The first phase will therefore be of an ante- preparatory character; it is meant to revive in the Christian people an awareness of the value and meaning of the Jubilee of the Year in human history.

Voice of Moreau – The Spirit of Holy Cross

As a commemoration of the Birth of Christ, the Jubilee is deeply charged with Christological significance. In keeping with the unfolding of the Christian faith in word and Sacrament, it seems important, even in this special anniversary, to link the structure of memorial with that of celebration, not limiting commemoration of the event only to ideas but also making its saving significance present through the celebration of the Sacraments.

The Jubilee celebration should confirm the Christians of today in their faith in God who has revealed himself in Christ, sustain their hope which reaches out in expectation of eternal life, and rekindle their charity in active service to their brothers and sisters. During the first stage to the Holy See, through a special Committee established for this purpose, will suggest courses of reflection and action at the universal level.

A similar commitment to promoting awareness will be carried out in a more detailed way by corresponding Commissions in the local Churches. In a way, it is a question of continuing what was done in the period of remote preparation and at the same time of coming to a deeper appreciation of the most significant aspects of the Jubilee celebration. A Jubilee is always an occasion of special grace, "a day blessed by the Lord". As has already been noted, it is thus a time of joy. The Jubilee of the Year is meant to be a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption which he accomplished.

In the Jubilee Year Christians will stand with the renewed wonder of faith before the love of the Father, who gave his Son, "that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" Jn With a profound sense of commitment, they will likewise express their gratitude for the gift of the Church, established by Christ as "a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind".

Nevertheless, the joy of every Jubilee is above all a joy based upon the forgiveness of sins, the joy of conversion. It therefore seems appropriate to emphasize once more the theme of the Synod of Bishops in penance and reconciliation. It took up the ever topical question of conversion "metanoia" , which is the pre-condition for reconciliation with God on the part of both individuals and communities.

Hence it is appropriate that, as the Second Millennium of Christianity draws to a close, the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms of counter-witness and scandal. Although she is holy because of her incorporation into Christ, the Church does not tire of doing penance: before God and man she always acknowledges as her own her sinful sons and daughters.

As Lumen Gentium affirms: "The Church, embracing sinners to her bosom, is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, and incessantly pursues the path of penance and renewal". The Holy Door of the Jubilee of the Year should be symbolically wider than those of previous Jubilees, because humanity, upon reaching this goal, will leave behind not just a century but a millennium.

It is fitting that the Church should make this passage with a clear awareness of what has happened to her during the last ten centuries. She cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging her children to purify themselves, through repentance, of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act. Acknowledging the weaknesses of the past is an act of honesty and courage which helps us to strengthen our faith, which alerts us to face today's temptations and challenges and prepares us to meet them.

Among the sins which require a greater commitment to repentance and conversion should certainly be counted those which have been detrimental to the unity willed by God for his People. In the course of the thousand years now drawing to a close, even more than in the first millennium, ecclesial communion has been painfully wounded, a fact "for which, at times, men of both sides were to blame". It is necessary to make amends for them, and earnestly to beseech Christ's forgiveness. In these last years of the millennium, the Church should invoke the Holy Spirit with ever greater insistence, imploring from him the grace of Christian unity.

This is a crucial matter for our testimony to the Gospel before the world. Especially since the Second Vatican Council many ecumenical initiatives have been undertaken with generosity and commitment: it can be said that the whole activity of the local Churches and of the Apostolic See has taken on an ecumenical dimension in recent years. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity has become an important catalyst in the movement towards full unity. We are all however aware that the attainment of this goal cannot be the fruit of human efforts alone, vital though they are.

Unity, after all, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We are asked to respond to this gift responsibly, without compromise in our witness to the truth, generously implementing the guidelines laid down by the Council and in subsequent documents of the Holy See, which are also highly regarded by many Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church. This then is one of the tasks of Christians as we make our way to the Year The approaching end of the second millennium demands of everyone an examination of conscience and the promotion of fitting ecumenical initiatives, so that we can celebrate the Great Jubilee, if not completely united, at least much closer to overcoming the divisions of the second millennium.

As everyone recognizes, an enormous effort is needed in this regard.

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It is essential not only to continue along the path of dialogue on doctrinal matters, but above all to be more committed to prayer for Christian unity. Such prayer has become much more intense after the Council, but it must increase still more, involving an ever greater number of Christians, in unison with the great petition of Christ before his Passion: "Father Another painful chapter of history to which the sons and daughters of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance is that of the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth.

It is true that an accurate historical judgment cannot prescind from careful study of the cultural conditioning of the times, as a result of which many people may have held in good faith that an authentic witness to the truth could include suppressing the opinions of others or at least paying no attention to them. Many factors frequently converged to create assumptions which justified intolerance and fostered an emotional climate from which only great spirits, truly free and filled with God, were in some way able to break free.

Yet the consideration of mitigating factors does not exonerate the Church from the obligation to express profound regret for the weaknesses of so many of her sons and daughters who sullied her face, preventing her from fully mirroring the image of her crucified Lord, the supreme witness of patient love and of humble meekness. From these painful moments of the past a lesson can be drawn for the future, leading all Christians to adhere fully to the sublime principle stated by the Council: "The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it wins over the mind with both gentleness and power".

Many Cardinals and Bishops expressed the desire for a serious examination of conscience above all on the part of the Church of today.

On the threshold of the new Millennium Christians need to place themselves humbly before the Lord and examine themselves on the responsibility which they too have for the evils of our day. The present age in fact, together with much light, also presents not a few shadows. How can we remain silent, for example, about the religious indifference which causes many people today to live as if God did not exist, or to be content with a vague religiosity, incapable of coming to grips with the question of truth and the requirement of consistency?

To this must also be added the widespread loss of the transcendent sense of human life, and confusion in the ethical sphere, even about the fundamental values of respect for life and the family. The sons and daughters of the Church too need to examine themselves in this regard. To what extent have they been shaped by the climate of secularism and ethical relativism? And what responsibility do they bear, in view of the increasing lack of religion, for not having shown the true face of God, by having "failed in their religious, moral, or social life"?

It cannot be denied that, for many Christians, the spiritual life is passing through a time of uncertainty which affects not only their moral life but also their life of prayer and the theological correctness of their faith. And with respect to the Church of our time, how can we not lament the lack of discernment, which at times became even acquiescence, shown by many Christians concerning the violation of fundamental human rights by totalitarian regimes?

And should we not also regret, among the shadows of our own day, the responsibility shared by so many Christians for grave forms of injustice and exclusion? It must be asked how many Christians really know and put into practice the principles of the Church's social doctrine. An examination of conscience must also consider the reception given to the Council, this great gift of the Spirit to the Church at the end of the second millennium.

To what extent has the word of God become more fully the soul of theology and the inspiration of the whole of Christian living, as Dei Verbum sought? Is the liturgy lived as the "origin and summit" of ecclesial life, in accordance with the teaching of Sacrosanctum Concilium? In the universal Church and in the particular Churches, is the ecclesiology of communion described in Lumen Gentium being strengthened? Does it leave room for charisms, ministries, and different forms of participation by the People of God, without adopting notions borrowed from democracy and sociology which do not reflect the Catholic vision of the Church and the authentic spirit of Vatican II?

Another serious question is raised by the nature of relations between the Church and the world. The Church of the first millennium was born of the blood of the martyrs: "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum". At the end of the second millennium, the Church has once again become a Church of martyrs.

This witness must not be forgotten. The Church of the first centuries, although facing considerable organizational difficulties, took care to write down in special martyrologies the witness of the martyrs. These martyrologies have been constantly updated through the centuries, and the register of the saints and the blessed bears the names not only of those who have shed their blood for Christ but also of teachers of the faith, missionaries, confessors, bishops, priests, virgins, married couples, widows and children. In our own century the martyrs have returned, many of them nameless, "unknown soldiers" as it were of God's great cause. As far as possible, their witness should not be lost to the Church. As was recommended in the Consistory, the local Churches should do everything possible to ensure that the memory of those who have suffered martyrdom should be safeguarded, gathering the necessary documentation.

This gesture cannot fail to have an ecumenical character and expression. Perhaps the most convincing form of ecumenism is the ecumenism of the saints and of the martyrs. The communio sanctorum speaks louder than the things which divide us.

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The martyrologium of the first centuries was the basis of the veneration of the Saints. By proclaiming and venerating the holiness of her sons and daughters, the Church gave supreme honour to God himself; in the martyrs she venerated Christ, who was at the origin of their martyrdom and of their holiness.

In later times there developed the practice of canonization, a practice which still continues in the Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Churches. In recent years the number of canonizations and beatifications has increased. These show the vitality of the local Churches, which are much more numerous today than in the first centuries and in the first millennium. The greatest homage which all the Churches can give to Christ on the threshold of the third millennium will be to manifest the Redeemer's all-powerful presence through the fruits of faith, hope and charity present in men and women of many different tongues and races who have followed Christ in the various forms of the Christian vocation.

It will be the task of the Apostolic See, in preparation for the Year , to update the martyrologies for the universal Church, paying careful attention to the holiness of those who in our own time lived fully by the truth of Christ. In particular, there is a need to foster the recognition of the heroic virtues of men and women who have lived their Christian vocation in marriage.

Precisely because we are convinced of the abundant fruits of holiness in the married state, we need to find the most appropriate means for discerning them and proposing them to the whole Church as a model and encouragement for other Christian spouses. A further need emphasized by the Cardinals and Bishops is that of Continental Synods, following the example of those already held for Europe and Africa. The last General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate accepted, in agreement with the Bishops of North America, the proposal for a Synod for the Americas on the problems of the new evangelization in both parts of the same continent, so different in origin and history, and on issues of justice and of international economic relations, in view of the enormous gap between North and South.

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Another plan for a continent-wide Synod will concern Asia, where the issue of the encounter of Christianity with ancient local cultures and religions is a pressing one. This is a great challenge for evangelization, since religious systems such as Buddhism or Hinduism have a clearly soteriological character. There is also an urgent need for a Synod on the occasion of the Great Jubilee in order to illustrate and explain more fully the truth that Christ is the one Mediator between God and man and the sole Redeemer of the world, to be clearly distinguished from the founders of other great religions.

With sincere esteem, the Church regards the elements of truth found in those religions as a reflection of the Truth which enlightens all men and women. Also for Oceania a Regional Synod could be useful. In this region there arises the question, among others, of the Aboriginal People, who in a unique way evoke aspects of human prehistory. In this Synod a matter not to be overlooked, together with other problems of the region, would be the encounter of Christianity with the most ancient forms of religion, profoundly marked by a monotheistic orientation. On the basis of this vast programme aimed at creating awareness, it will then be possible to begin the second phase, the strictly preparatory phase.

This will take place over the span of three years, from to The thematic structure of this three-year period, centred on Christ, the Son of God made man, must necessarily be theological, and therefore Trinitarian.