"A lay Catholic perspective"

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From Out of Town

by John Lewis


I  WANT YOU to read As the Third Millennium Draws Near in its entirety. It is much better than the press release that accompanied it. The press release tells you what it says but misses the great optimistic tone of the real document.

When I was invited to write about Tertio Mellennio Adveniente (as we sometimes call it when I am giving an illusion of scholarship) I had to download it from the internet and I needed a dictionary as some of the words are indeed pneumatological.

We have a mixed track record with millenniums. The first three hundred years were years of persecution and martyrdom; then just after the first millennium in the year 1054, the Orthodox Eastern Church split with Rome. At the next half millennium in 1517, the Protestant Reformation began, and indeed continues, with a new denomination started on the average every five days. So why would the Pope think that the millennium is a big deal? Let me give you a slight taste of the document from paragraphs 16, 25 and 37.

One of the Church's most fervent petitions for the millennium is unity among all Christians(16). The Pope gives us (25) a history of how the Church developed leading to (37) the century that is now ending. The Church has once again become a Church of martyrs. The shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants. "Perhaps the most convincing form of ecumenism is the ecumenism of the saints and of the martyrs." The Pope shares Jesus' vision that we be one.

The document was published in November 1994. It looks back on the past, then invites us to take three years looking forward. I am already in catch up mode for 1997 which is dedicated to Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever. 1998 is dedicated to the Holy Spirit who acts in the Church. 1999 is a year of great praise to the Father. Like I said — read the whole document.

A great saint

Sir Thomas More was a lawyer, parliamentarian, Chancellor of England and close buddy of King Henry VIII. He studied history and saw that pride is the most dangerous fault and so spent years preparing to deal with the tyranny that developed in Henry. As a man of influence Thomas More could well have enjoyed flattery and become proud but he set his mind on the truth taught by the Universal Church. This displeased Henry VIII who had declared that he was the head of the Church of England. Since More had done no wrong, a special illegal law was passed and a court assembled to find him guilty. He was beheaded five days later, no pussy footing around with appeals.

Thomas More was a dedicated family man of principal, a man for all seasons. 400 years later he was canonized by the Church. If you are planning for the year 2000, learning about St. Thomas More would be an uplifting place to start.