Merry Christmas! May the peace and love that is Christ Our Savior be with you and your families during this holy season.
On behalf of Father Duvelius and myself, many thanks for your kind greetings, gifts, and remembrances during this Christmas Season. We are happy to serve you as your parish priests. We deeply appreciate your loving kindnesses to us during this Christmas Season.
Last week our parishioners should have received a special Christmas letter from Father Duvelius and myself. Although we cannot do it individually and more personally, we wanted to send you our very best for the Christmas season. We also sent you a special little gift from your parish. Itís just a token of our gratitude for your goodness and your faithfulness to Holy Rosary.
Happy New Millennium! Iíll never get the chance to say that again. Itís a once in a lifetime experience to be able to live through the change over to a new millennium. As our Holy Father points out, what a privilege this is. We are the Catholics who are taking our Faith through "the door to a new era," across the threshold to a new chapter in the two thousand year old story of our salvation in Christ.
Just thinkóDecember 26, 1999, if the last Sunday of the decade, last Sunday of the century, the last Sunday of the millennium at Holy Rosary! On the other hand, January 2, 2000, is the first Sunday of a whole new era.
It can be a bit confusing, but we are actually celebrating two things this Christmas and New Yearís. One is the beginning of the Jubilee Year 2000; the other is the final year of two thousand years of Christianity. Let me try to explain:
For about 700 years the Church has celebrated Jubilee Years. Itís basically now every twenty-five years. We call them the "holy years." Itís a special year to reflect on where we have been spiritually and where we are going spiritually. The closing and opening of the "holy doors" symbolizes this. The concept of "jubilee" is rooted in Old Testament times. The word "jubilee" comes from the Jewish term for the ramís horn. It was blown to symbolize the year of jubilee.
Jubilee years were and are times of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Old Testament times slaves were freed, debts were forgiven, and people generally got the chance for a fresh new start.
Pope John Paul II reminds us that any Jubilee Year, but especially this one, is a logical place to pause and think about whatís gone before us as well as what lies ahead. Itís not unlike going on a retreat or having a long talk with God when we turn forty or fifty, when we prepare to get married or become a parent, make a career change, get ready to retire, and so forth.
This Jubilee Year is very special. Unlike the one in 1950 and the next one in 1975, this Jubilee Year is at the start of a new millennium. This is the second millennium, the second one thousand years since the Birth of Christ. We officially begin its celebration at Midnight Mass at Saint Peterís Basilica in Vatican City this Christmas. (About 6:00 p.m. here, Indianapolis time, on December 24th.)
Now, you can get too hung up on the specific time here. It is not precisely two thousand years since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Experts tell us that the calculation of our current calendar has been a bit off since its inception. The 2000th year since Jesusís birth was probably between 1994 and 1996. If you wanted to mark the precise moment in time, youíve missed it.
The Millennium Year is a symbolic reminder anyhow. We do the same thing often. People celebrate their birthday on perhaps the Sunday closest to the actual date, so more people can be free to come to the party. Married couples will celebrate their Silver or Golden Wedding Anniversaries as much as six months off from the actual date, so as to accommodate children or family and friends who need to travel from out of town.
In this Millennium Year of the Great Jubilee 2000 we celebrate two thousand years of Christianity! Christ and His Church have been at work in the world, offering salvation to those who will accept it, for two thousand years. Itís a time to celebrate; a time to give thanks; a time to look ahead: Christ YesterdayóChrist TodayóChrist Forever!
We here at Holy Rosary should take this whole year of 2000 to do just that. We thank God for the blessings of yesterday. Our parish is slightly over ninety years old. Our 90th birthday was May 9, 1999. Over these past ninety years the saving work of Christ through His Church has been going on in this very spot. Countless people have encountered Jesus in Word and in Sacrament in this sacred place. He is and has been present here in the tabernacle of our church for ninety years.
Today, in recent times, has additional blessings. These past fifteen years or so, Holy Rosary Parish has met many challenges head on. At one time, I think we were slated for closing or at least slated to become a "chapel." Parishioners, behind the strong leadership of various pastors and administrators, formed a strong parish council and pool of support. We reclaimed our rich Italian heritage. Once again, we are known throughout the city as "the Italian Church of Indianapolis."
In the past two years, our parish life has been enriched by the addition of the Tridentine Mass Apostolate in our parish. The beautiful traditional Latin Mass has drawn many to join our parish and countless others who often come some distance to attend. Since the coming of Father Duvelius we have celebrated two Solemn High Masses and offer the traditional Latin Mass on a more frequent and consistent basis.
We have also revived many of the traditions dating back to our early history: the May Crowning, Devotions in honor of Saint Joseph (patron of Italy) and Our Blessed Mother (patroness of our parish), frequent confessions, and some very beautiful choirs and music. The "Novus Ordo" or English Mass is offered more frequently here as compared to just a few years ago. Attendance as well as our Sunday collections is increasing. We have much to be thankful for right now, today.
The future? Pope John Paul II says the new millennium is filled with hope. He calls us to a positive attitude. The world will always have its pessimists and basic crackpots who see nothing but doom and gloom. For them, there is a conspiracy at every turn and nothing but a negative attitude. Itís true in throughout the world and true in our local circumstances as well. But like the Holy Father, we should be filled with hope.
The saving work of Christ and His Church is alive and well. Itís been that way for two thousand years. And those two thousand years have not been years of smooth sailing either. Christ and His Church have been attacked from every side, in every conceivable way, inside and out. The Jubilee Year tells us to stand still. Look back over these two thousand years. The Church is strong. The Church is alive and well. It is growing. (Even locally in this archdiocese, our major challenge these days is our unprecedented growth.)
Are we without problems? No! I donít think we ever will be. If we had no problems, if the world and the Church were 100% perfect, I think thatís what they call heaven. And heaven is not of this world.
Happy New Millennium! As your pastor, with you I give thanks to God for all He has done through our beloved Holy Rosary Parish. I also join you in giving thanks to God for all He continues to do right here, at 520 Stevens Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Together, we move forward to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new century and the new millennium. How shall we do it? The way we will do it is the way I always sign my letters,
Sincerely yours in God's Providence,
Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel
P.S. Godís Providence? Well, think about it. Itís basically worked for us so far hasnít it? Itís worked for Holy Rosary Parish for ninety years now. I suspect it will work for at least the next ninety. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!