Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 6, 1999
Walk through the holy door
Parish ministers urged to reclaim Sabbath as a day set aside for God
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Catholics should enter into the new millennium with a clean heart, leaving behind all that prevents them from listening to God, says Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Speaking to pastors, associate pastors and other people in full-time ministry Nov. 26, the archbishop urged Catholics to use the symbolism of the jubilee door to cleanse their hearts.
"Visualize that moment; that image of the holy door is wonderful," he said. "We have to move through that door and leave behind the things that block us from listening to the Lord. Those sins, those scandals, leave them behind as you walk through the (jubilee) door."
About 65 people working in parish and hospital ministry attended the retreat at Providence Renewal Centre. Collins and Father Bob Colburn, pastor of St. Theresa Parish, spoke at the retreat, entitled Leading us Forward into the next Millennium.
The archbishop suggested his audience have a penitential period to clear away the blockage. "We have to have a spirit of repentance as we approach the new millennium."
The archbishop also urged parish ministers to "learn to develop an attentive heart" and to teach the same to people in their parishes. That can be achieved, he said, through in-depth study of the Bible, fellowship and prayer.
"If we want to know how Scripture is leading us forward into the new millennium, we must listen to the words of God as they are in the Scriptures," he said. "The word of God lights our path."
Many ordinary people are waiting for the new millennium with anxiety and fear, with some storing groceries, wood and water in their basements in preparation for the end of times.
Earlier in the day, Colburn told his audience, "We have a challenge to understand people around us and to bring to them a hopeful message.
"My plans for you are peace and not disaster," he quoted Jesus as saying in the book of Jeremiah.
The priest also urged his audience to reclaim the "seventh day" (Sunday) as a Sabbath, which he defined as "a day set aside for God" and for resting.
"The Sabbath was given by God as a gift," Colburn said. "It's a day to process, to reflect and to stop and linger. For our own health we have to stop and linger."
Added Colburn: "Sabbath is a day to be rather than to do. It allows us to experience what eternity is like."
Out of the Sabbath came the idea of jubilee, which is marked every 50 years and falls in 2000. "The year 2000 is supposed to be a good time, a time to rejoice. It's the year of God's favour."
In biblical times jubilee was a time to set the captives free, to distribute wealth and to take care of the earth. Colburn said the upcoming jubilee year should be a time for peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, renewal and compassion.
"As followers of Jesus Christ we are all called to compassion, which is not feeling sorry for someone but truly feeling empathy," he said.
"Compassion includes respect and reverence and some kind of action. A compassion for the new millennium compels us to action."
Jesus had a compassion which came out of his own experience of loneliness and rejection so he reached out to the lonely, the poor and the outcast, noted Colburn.
But the priest said before extending their compassion to others, Catholic ministers must have compassion for themselves.
"The jubilee year is supposed to be a year of renewal for ourselves. If we can't have compassion for ourselves, we can't have it for anyone. Be compassionate, loving and tender to yourselves," Colburn said.