I suppose each generation makes its own mark on history. But our generation is certainly going to be marked by the fact that we are living through a very historic period. With God’s help our generation will walk through the gateway of a new millennium. That in itself is a historic moment. It has happened to just one generation before us, those who were alive in the year 1000 A.D. Isn’t it worthwhile to take time and reﬂect on what way we might mark this Millennium in our parish?
Throughout history there has always been a sense of the ‘sacredness’ of time. In the Old Testament, there is the whole series of events that formed God’s people. We read in Exodus. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month is to be the first of all others for you, the first month of your year…on the tenth day of this month, speak to the whole community of Israel and say…” Ex.1-8. And each year they celebrated the Paschal Meal and retold the story to the disciples at the Last Supper. There was always the sense that God was speaking to them and forming them through history.
And in Christian times, special years have been marked as Jubilee and Holy Years to call people to reﬂect and mark sign-posts of history. The Holy Father has called on the whole Church to prepare for this Millennium that we are now facing.
Last year we were invited to reﬂect on the person of Our Lord and the life we share with him through our Baptism. This present year the theme is the Holy Spirit and his gifts in us to build the Christian Community. This has been the theme of the Renew programme and the Station and Neighbourhood Masses. Next year, we are invited to reﬂect in God our Father and the call to reconciliation. The most important way for us to prepare for this special time in our history is to live our Christian faith with renewed energy and commitment. That is the first and most important challenge.
The Gregorian Calendar starts with the momentous event of the birth of Jesus Christ. Apart from the Chinese, the whole world has marked its history beginning with that date. Just to think of all the places alone that are marked by Christian names from the sub-ways of Paris, the streets of Rome and throughout the United States to San Francisco. Here at home, we have the whole range of special places that mark our Christian faith such as Croagh Patrick, Clonmacnoise, Skellig etc.
We are told that people stood in awe awaiting the 31st December 999. They though that the last Judgement would happen! At that time in Europe, the Scandinavians were conquering by land and sea. At home, Brian Boru was about to exert his supremacy and in 1014 defeated the Danes at Clontarf. The first potatoes were being planted in Peru. Civilisation was at its height in Latin America. The great centre of leaming was Baghdad. The Arabs were on the march through North Africa and into Spain. And the first printing works were being developed in China. The University of Paris did not exist for another two hundred and fifty years.
Likewise, the town of Athenry, 1214, the Dominican Abbey1241. When we look back over the past thousand years, what are the landmarks? No doubt, all of that will be debated over the coming year. Certainly, in our time over the past fifty years we have witnessed extraordinary changes. The advances in technology and communication will surely stand as one of the great developments of this century. And then if you were to look forward it stretches the imagination to think about the possibilities of the future!
However, the thought that I would ask you to reﬂect on is “How and in what ways should we as people of this parish mark the Millennium”? Lady’s Well Committee are planning a Millennium
Park in the area of ground beside Our Lady’s Well, since it is most likely that this area was a place of pilgrimage at the time of the First Millennium. Other areas of the parish should mark this event in some particular way. If there is an old Monument, Cemetery or Lisheen in your area, it would be a worthwhile venture for people to get together do some community work. Such places mark the story of our people, culture and faith, history and heritage. Local pride calls us to take action! I’m sure there are different ways where people can take some initiative which will mark this time when our parish is moving through this historic gateway.
Written by Tony King
Published here 07 Mar 2023 and originally published Summer 1998
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