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Pilgrims of hope -- Holy Year of 2025

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The real goal of each Holy Year is an increase in personal holiness of all the members of the church.

Father Robert M.

More than 700 years ago, the first recorded celebration of a Jubilee or Holy Year was proclaimed by the then-Pope Boniface VIII. Over the centuries, ordinary Holy Years have been celebrated every 50 years and since the late 15th century every 25 years. There have been Extraordinary Holy Years decreed by various popes during this time as well.
The church sees the origins of Holy Years in the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Leviticus, where God commands Moses to summon the people of Israel to a special year to be observed every 50 years. "You shall hallow the 50th year and proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. This 50th year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the un-gathered corn, you will not gather the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields." (Leviticus 25, 10-14)
These special years were to be a kind of year-long retreat from the usual activity of life -- a time when people could pray, ponder, and plan for the next 50 years while, at the same time, seeking reconciliation with God and fellow human beings and reconciling with those from whom they had become alienated.

On May 9, 2024, the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Pope Francis is scheduled to issue the "bull of indiction" -- the solemn decree announcing the Holy Year 2025. We already know that the Holy Year will be several days longer than a calendar year. This one will open on Dec. 24, 2024, and conclude on Jan. 6, 2026.
Prayer and pilgrimage, then, are the marks of Holy Years.
The Holy Year begins with the opening in Rome of the Holy Door at the Papal Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican. The Holy Doors of the other papal basilicas -- St. John Lateran (the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome), St. Mary Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls -- will be opened soon thereafter.
In some way, the opening of the four Holy Doors is a dramatic sign of "Welcome to Rome," especially for Catholics, but also to all Christians and all people of goodwill to come to the Eternal City on pilgrimage to pray.
Pope Francis has set the theme of this Holy Year as "Peregrinantes in Spem" or "Pilgrims of Hope." This underlines that all of us are on the way together and that this journey together is begun and sustained in hope and ends for each of us, ultimately, in the possession of the vision of the Blessed Trinity.
While pilgrimages throughout this year to Rome can be made at any point -- they're expecting millions over the more than year-long event -- there are special days for particular groups (e.g. Communications, Jan. 24; Military, Feb. 8; Artists, Feb. 16; Deacons, Feb. 21-23; Bishops, June 25; Priests, June 25-27). Check out the complete list www.iubilaeum2025.va/content/dam/iubilaeum2025/calendario/PDF/ENG-CAL.pdf.
The real goal of each Holy Year is an increase in personal holiness of all the members of the church. In addition to pilgrimages to Rome or to other pilgrimage sites to be announced, the tried-and-true practices of the church -- especially the celebration of the sacraments -- but also our public and private devotions, our deeds of service and charity and our efforts to bring justice and peace are a good starting point.
All of us in the church can make a checklist of what we're doing well and perhaps what we could do better or even what we have to start doing, no matter our age, location, or vocation. Various checklists are available about the Christian life. Part Three of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great place to review how we live the Christian faith. Quicker lists include the Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, the Spiritual and the Corporal Works of Mercy, and The Commandments of the Church. These provide handy measuring sticks for us to see how we are doing and perhaps how we could do more.
During the Holy Year, you'll be able to keep up with what's happening through the pages of The Pilot.
The Holy See has created a dedicated website for the Jubilee: www.iubilaeum2025.va/en.html -- it is also available in other modern languages, which you can access from the link. At that site, you can also find the Holy Year App: www.iubilaeum2025.va/en/applicazione.html.
Our collaborators at Pilot Printing have started to make resources available. Bookmark this link: www.PilotPrintingShop.net.

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