We have just begun the school year which will take us into the new millenium. For some people the approach of the year 2000 fills them with anxiety. They fear that airplane will crash, hospitals will be paralyzed and bank records will disappear. The last item is the only one that in some ways approximates the Old Testament idea of the Year of Jubilee. It was a time of equalizing accounts, especially freeing those who have large debts. Freedom from debts can also have a deep spiritual significance.
It is that meaning our Holy Father emphasizes as the new millenium approaches. It is not a time for fear, but a great outpouring of God's grace. Pope John Paul II has concretized this by offering the Holy Year Indulgence. It is an application of the merits of Christ and of the saints for remission of sins and the temporal consequences. Some people will be making a pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land with the goal of obtaining the Holy Year Indulgence. For those who cannot make such a pilgrimage there will be the possibility of receiving it in the Archdiocese or even at our local parish. As will become clear, the indulgence is not mechanical but rather a call to the profound spiritual renewal we all want and deeply need. It is my hope that all of our children who have reached the age of First Confession will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. I hope that you as parents and guardians will also do the same.
To begin our Holy Year observance I will bless one of the doors of our church on Christmas eve. Through that door will first pass the children representing Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. In the Bible the temple door has a special significance. The psalmist proclaimed, "This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter." (Ps. 118:20) Jesus made it more personal when he said, "I am the door" (Jn 10:7) Hopefully all of us will pass through that door and fulfill the requirements to receive the Holy Year Indulgence.
The year 2000 is significant for us on another level. Here at Holy Family we have been involved in a discernment process regarding our parish buildings. Our school needs major work on its porch and in terms of seismic refitting. The Building Discernment Committee has also pointed out the need for a multi-purpose building that can serve as a parish hall and gymnasium. These are major projects but considering the present needs of our children and the future needs of our parish, they are things we must face. As the year progresses we will be communicating more to you as parents and how you can participate.
Looking toward the new millenium I very much identify with the spirit of our Holy Father. Whatever problems we might face, they are small in comparison with the blessings God wish to shower upon us. The Bible expresses it beautifully: "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) As we enter the new millenium may we open our hearts to all God offers us.
--Fr. Phillip Bloom