Have you made your plans for New Year’s Eve? How about for the new
If you pick up a paper or turn on the television or radio, it’s hard
not to find some mention of the millennium. Everyone seems to be discussing
and planning for it.
And while some people are preparing for the worst, the Church is
preparing for a celebration—the Great Jubilee. But it’s also more
than just a celebration. As we head into the next millennium, we should
take time to reflect on the past and any errors we may have made,
and focus on how to improve in the future.
As Pope John Paul II said in his apostolic exhortation On the
Coming Third Millennium (Tertio Millennio Adveniente),
“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” (#33).
That point was reiterated by the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on the
Third Millennium in Jubilee 2000: A Year of the Lord’s Favor:
“God constantly calls us to conversion. He extends this opportunity
to the Church and to each of us in a special way during the Great
the Call Into Action
The Sisters United News (SUN) and St. Anthony Messenger Press have
heard that call and developed a way for people to celebrate the Great
Jubilee by making a difference in the next millennium. The project,
entitled “What Would You Do for 1,000 Years
of Peace?”, encourages individuals to pledge time they will devote
to peacemaking activities.
“We believe world peace begins at home,” says Sister of Charity Mary
Bookser. “The hours one person spends praying for peace or volunteering
for a worthy cause can contribute to a better, more peaceful world....Peace
is built day by day, hour by hour.”
Pledges can be made via the Web at www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Peace/,
or by mail to: Sisters United News, c/o Sister Mary Garke, 100 E.
Eighth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Individuals will assign the appropriate
amount of time for their pledges. A sampling of pledges will be posted
on the Web site. The goal is to accumulate 8,766,000 hours—or 1,000
years—of pledges for peace. Pledges will be tallied beginning this
What Do You Pledge?
Every year, people make New Year’s resolutions as a way to make the
coming year better than the last. Unfortunately, many resolutions
don’t last much longer than it takes to make them. Perhaps that’s
because we often think in terms of grand or long-term commitments.
Maybe if we took those resolutions hour by hour, day by day, they
would be more achievable. The key is to figure out how you
can make a difference.
Debt relief, ecumenism, forgiveness and peace are words
that pepper the discussion of the next millennium. The pope and U.S.
bishops have raised them all as issues to be addressed in light of
These very complex issues may seem overwhelming. The challenge is
to find ways to relate those issues to our everyday lives.
For instance, whether or not the United States should forgive another
country’s debt is a big decision about which you may feel detached.
After all, this decision is not up to you alone. But you can endorse
the spirit of debt relief by forgiving a debt owed to you by a friend.
It may be a monetary debt, but it could also be an unrepaid favor
The religious struggles and animosity of the Middle East may seem
too distant to affect your everyday life. But why not make an effort
to talk and listen to people close to you or in your community whose
viewpoints differ from your own? Support the effort for ecumenism
by making an attempt to listen and understand each other’s viewpoints.
The key is to get a conversation going.
Or perhaps it’s time you retire a grudge you’ve been harboring. Even
if you’re not ready to forgive the individual completely, you can
pray for the strength for future reconciliation. One of the first
steps of reconciliation is to want for the other person the wholeness
and peace which God wants for them. And in the process you may find
greater peace with yourself. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu so appropriately
states in the title of his new book, there is No Future Without
And we must remember that all of these actions—including forgiveness—begin
with a decision to make a change. Only then can our actions grow to
something larger. And what better time than at the dawn of a new millennium?
for a Special Grace
In On the Coming Third Millennium, Pope John Paul II reminds
us, “...Everyone is asked to do as much as possible to ensure that
the great challenge of the Year 2000 is not overlooked, for this challenge
certainly involves a special grace of the Lord for the Church and
for the whole of humanity” (#55). The decision to make a difference—in
the world and yourself—begins with you. Only then can it build—hour
by hour, day by day—into something greater. What will be your resolution
for the millennium? —S.H.B.