"A lay Catholic perspective"

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by Father Egbert Stang, omi


IN THE PRESENT setting of 1999, the Jubilee Year 2000 next year, and the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity, God is preparing His people for a "Great Springtime", as the Holy Father tells us.

Past history shows that. The Second Vatican Council, focusing on Christ, the Church, and the world, was God's immediate preparation. In this historic council, the Church clarified her identity as the Body and the Bride of Christ; it reaffirmed the universal call to holiness; reform of the liturgy; promoted the various Christian vocations of the laity, religious, deacons, priests and bishops.

The Church through Vatican II is calling all of us to a profound renewal, that is open to Christians of other denominations and all people of our time. There is a clear call for dialogue, recognizing the dignity of each person, and new evangelization. Vatican II speaks the language of the Gospel, especially the Beatitudes.

On our part, therefore, we need to renew our commitment to the teachings of Vatican II. The pope invites us to be a "new Advent" people.

Each church community is called to prepare for the Jubilee Year 2000, as the Holy Father outlines in his apostolic letter Toward the Third Millennium.

Phase One: means knowing the value and meaning of the Jubilee Year 2000; faith in the Father, hope in Jesus Christ His Son and apostolic zeal in their Holy Spirit; conversion, forgiveness of sins, penance and reconciliation; sorrow for past mistakes, infidelity, disunity, intolerance, indifference; prayer for Christian unity.

Phase Two: means focusing on Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour of the world. This is done by renewed focus on the Bible, appreciating our Baptism, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, commitment to Christian unity, and taking Mary as our model of faith in Jesus her divine Son. It also means dedication to the Holy Spirit present in the community of Christ's disciples; which is renewed appreciation of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments, especially Confirmation, in the various charisms and roles and ministries. We allow the Spirit to move us to new evangelization, helping us cross the threshold of hope by seeing the present signs of hope in society and the Church. We are to be guided by the Spirit as Mary was and is, seeing God as Father to whose eternal home of Heaven we are all journeying, by means of the sacrament of Reconciliation, opting for the poor and with Mary being children of the Father.