Holy Years: How Frequent?

This isn’t intended to be a smart-aleck question, but a serious one. How often should the Church celebrate holy years? I noticed that Spain observes fourteen “Years of James” per century: every time the feast of St James falls on a Sunday. Another starts seven weeks from Sunday.

On the other hand, given the near-total silence on the Year of Paul, maybe we need all the special years we can get.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Holy Years: How Frequent?

  1. Liam says:

    Well, this year is also a jubilee of sorts for priests, being the sesquicentenary of the death of St John Vianney. And last year was a Laurentian jubilee year – the 1750th anniversary of the death of St Lawrence of Rome, the great Roman deacon.

    The last century has seen an explosion of these thematic jubilees. The 1933 & 1983 holy years, the Marian year in 1987, et cet.

    The next big thematic jubilee of course will be 2033, around which time we will be treated to the same calendrical essays that we had in the late 1990s (my favorite of which was a NY Times op-ed essay at Christmas 1996, entitled “The End Is Nigh. Very Nigh.”

    Dilution is a concern. But the point of the jubilees is underscoring reconciliation and the abundance of God’s mercy. I think we would best be served by making the most of them that we can, rather than getting caught up in a kind of bien-pensant concern that any underscoring of indulgences necessarily caters to a mindset at odds with apostolates of service. Best I can tell, they seem to reinforce each other (having seen first hand how bien-pensant concerns tend to make such apostolates wither).

    I would suggest that ordinary holy years (of the every 25 years variety, century marks and quarter century marks) would be useful pulse-taking points for a variety of intra and extra mural reflections and actions by the Church. For example, it might be the best cycle for revising editions of the Missal and ritual books – to take it off the current capricious schedule and regularize it but only generationally. To take a pulse of the vibrancy of various apostolates at the local, regional and universal levels. To revisit excommunications. Et cet.

  2. KiwiNomad says:

    Last year I walked the Camino of St James, but started in Le Puy en Velay in France, which has been a place of Marian pilgrimage in France for many centuries. The Le Puy Holy Years are those when the feast of the Annunciation coincides with Good Friday, which happens 2-4 times per century.

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