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January 3, 1997     The Message
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January 3, 1997

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana "2 -- Taking the time to make a difference Making a difference after Christmas The four of us sat in a row, waiting in front of the window, at the airport. It was late at night, cold, and we were waiting. We were four parents -- my wife and I, another woman, anoth- er man. Our children were coming home for Christmas, and we were waiting. The man said his son worked in Minneapolis, at a new job. He was proud of his son's college suc- cesses and eager to tell us how a company had sought out his son to offer him the position he now held. The woman said her son had been doing extremely well in college, too, and was working on earning two undergraduate degrees. We all bragged a little, as we waited. The four of us sat in a row, facing the window, and as we turned to talk to each other, each of us would pause to peer out the window. We looked for lights. We watched a pickup truck on the airport apron. We watched the people who worked at the airport, hoping to find some increase in activity that would signal an arrival. A voice on the public address system reported some news. A flight number was given, an arrival time promised, for a plane from Cincinnati. The level of conversation picked up in other sections of By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR the waiting area, among family members and friends of passengers expected on that flight. The four of us -- who had stopped talking in mid-sentence when the announcement began -- settled back again in our chairs and tried to remember where our con- versation had taken us. We stiffened again as another announcement began. The com- muter flight from Chicago, which should have landed already, was just about ready to leave the termi- nal at Chicago, we were told. Disappointed at the delay, but comforted by the assurance that the flight was actu- ally going to take place, we settled back in our seats again. Another flight was announced, this one from St. Louis. It brought home the son from Minneapo- lis, for the father who was waiting. Three of us remained, seated together in the chairs by the win- dow, waiting for the last flight from Chicago, for two sons, hers and ours, coming home for Christ- mas. Midnight arrived, and a little later, the good news was announced. Our plane -- it had become ours, some time during the course of the evening -- was 10 minutes away. We stood up, to wait more actively, joining others who had been waiting, separate groups of threes and fours. The plane touched down, and were waiting gathered together near the e area. After hours of waiting, we moment together, with smiles and ing, as the group of us moved in the stream of passengers arriving. As suddenly as our celebration begun, so suddenly was it concluded, as 0 family by family, reunions were who had waited and those who had I can't help but think th pened at the birth of Jesus. Years with the arrival of the incarnate Son cannot stay together, no more than our families would remain at the airport. In the days after Christmas, it is up back in our own homes and nei out the reality of that long-awaited After an extraordinary moment it is up to each of us to continue the our ordinary lives, until we gather again eternal celebration of unity. Vatican Letter Comments about this column are or the Christian Family P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Looking back centuries to find the church's 'holy year' t By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN cITY (CNS) -- When Pope John Paul II announced the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, he was extending a church tradition that began seven centuries ago. But while every medieval scholar knows that Pope Boni- face VIII proclaimed the first Holy Year in 1300, the reasons for his unprecedented decision are still much debated. Historians see a mix of spiri- tual, political and financial motives in the first Holy Year, reflecting the more worldly role The MESSAGE .( --1996-- ,- 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Pub[tshed weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Pui,her ............. Bishop Gerald A. C.-ettelf.lger Edit' ...................................... Paul R. Lngang Production Technician ............... Joseph Dietrich ................................... Paul Newnd Staff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as periodical matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication  1996 Cathobc Press of Evansvi i of the pope at that time. And that I escaped the same danger whole 100 years for the next. ever since then, jubilees have enthused Romans because they inevitably brought people, power and money to the Eternal City. Perhaps that's one reason why Pope John Paul and his jubilee planning team have gone out of their way to emphasize prayer over profits for the year 2000. "The spiritual preparation for the jubilee is the essential thing. It's not a business opportunity," Archbishop Sergio Sebastiani, the Vatican's chief coordinator for the event, has commented. Some experts say the practice of .holy years, now celebrated every 25 years, began as a snap decision after tens of thousands of pilgrims spontaneously flood- ed Rome around Christmas of 1299. As that century drew to a close, a run'or spread that a ple- nary indulgence -- remission of temporal punishment for sins was available to those who came to Rome during the centennial anniversary of Jesus' birth. When Pope Boniface saw the crowds, he was "amazed," according to a recent Vatican historical encyclopedia. In order not to disappoint the faithful, he quickly put together a papal bull, or decree, and on Feb. 22, 1300, declared that holy years would thereupon be held every 100 years. He stipulated that a plenary indulgence would be gained by those who prayed repeatedly at the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul -- 15 times for outside vis- itors, 30 times for Romans, just to make things fair. Contemporaries estimated that 2 million people poured through Rome's narrow streets that year. Historian Christopher Hibbert quotes one visitor as saying, "I frequently saw both sexes trodden underfoot, and it was sometimes with difficulty myself." They lined up outside church- es to visit shrines and relics: the heads of Saints Peter and Paul, the veil of Veronica, pieces of the true cross, the Holy Stairs. There was no Trevi Fountain to throw coins into; instead, pil- grims back then would toss money onto the altar of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where two priests were stationed with rakes to gather the offerings. Experts say the profits visit- ed upo n Rome that year were incalculable. Much of it went to souvenir and relic vendors, to innkeepers and traders, to craftsmen engaged in refurbish- ing projects and to artists brought in by churches for redecoration. St. Peter's Basilica and several other major church- es got a facelift, and new monu- ments were built. But it wasn't just about rev- enues. It was also about pres- tige. "The jubilee of 1300 was the basis for the resurrection of Rome" in its role as center of the universal church, Italian histo- rian Franco Cardini said recent- ly. In effect, he said, it shifted the focus from Jerusalem to Rome which was not a bad thing for the church after the failure of the crusades the preceding cen- tury. He noted that popes had offered a plenary indulgence to those participating in a crusade to Jerusalem, but were now offering the same thing in Rome. "Christians discovered that the goal was no longer the liber- ation of Jerusalem, but an inte- rior liberation gained by making pilgrimage -- not to the empty tomb of Jesus but to the tomb of Peter, where the center of Chris- tianity was situated," he said. After the immensely popular Holy Year of 1300, it wasn't too surprising that succeeding popes didn't want to wait a Saying life was short, Pope Clement VI proclaimed another jubilee for 1350, but this one was a disaster. The churches and other build- ings so proudly restored in 1300 were already falling into ruin, as the Rome economy was weak- ened by political fighting, dis- ease and natural disaster. St. Paul's had collapsed in an earth- quake, and St. Peter's was with- out a roof. As for the pope, he chose to remain in Avignon, France, for the duration; no papal blessings were issued in Rome. Still, the pilgrims came by the tens of thousands. But because of rampant lawlessness, they had to go everywhere in large groups. Pope John paul i a lot about the Years, but not said much of the 1300s, evoked the Old dition of the time of rest, fo: renewal, and he sized Jerusalem as grimage. Nowadays, have to leave to gain a pler during a obse Vatican will draw in ties are lion people to the city. Even for the rest may be Subscription Renewal Drive to begin with 'Message sund= "Message Sunday" -- observed this year on Jar1. is the beginning of a drive for new and reneweCl Most of the subscriptions to the Message February, and most new subscriptions will began day of March. Subscription fees remain the same, $17.50 for subscriber, or $15 for subscribers in full Each paying subscriber receives 45 regular sage, and an additional six issues which are the Catholic Parishes Campaign and are tered family in the diocese. The Message is published every Friday the Friday after Christmas. Bishop's The following activities and events are ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: op's house, Saturday, Jan, 4, Confirmation, Holy Spirit Tuesday. Jan, 7, 7 p.m. CST. Priests' Personnel Board Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 1:30 p.m.