Dear brothers and sisters,

On 22nd December 1216, just before Christmas, Pope Honorious III gave to St Dominic “Religiosam Vitam”, the Bull of Confirmation of the Order of Preachers.  At the beginning of the new year, 18th January 1217, the same Pope wrote to St Dominic and his brothers: “He who never ceases to make his church fruitful through new offspring wishes to make these modern times the equal of former days and to spread the Catholic faith.  So he inspired you with a holy desire to embrace poverty, profess the regular life and commit yourselves to the proclamation of the word of God, preaching everywhere the name of our Lord Jesus” (LCO 1, §1). This is the vision of evangelisation in which we celebrate our Jubilee of 800 years since the confirmation of our Order.

Through this message, we invite you to celebrate Christmas 2012 and the New Year 2013, with fervour.  The Jubilee celebration has been planned from 2007, giving us nine years to dedicate to its preparation.  Now, we begin the final stage of this great moment for the Dominican Family and also our mother, the Church.  The preparation and celebration of the Order’s Jubilee promise to be privileged moments of grace.  They are opportunities to take stock, a time of personal and communal renewal.  This time will give an apostolic momentum to the mission and to the new evangelisation. The Jubilee also encourages in us a certain strength and the courage to hope in the future without fear.

Our proposal is a Jubilee celebration at four levels: 1) local community level 2) at the level of the province and related entities, 3) at a regional level around the world and finally, 4) at the level of the Order in general.  From the New Year, 2013, we will begin to contact you more frequently, directly or virtually, about the work that has already begun in our entities and our suggestions for this great celebration.  We would also welcome your ideas and we shall collect them into an overall Jubilee project, not only with the celebration in mind, but also the renewal of the life and mission of the Order in the contemporary world.  The Master of the Order has asked each entity to nominate a Promoter for the Jubilee.  We shall start our work of preparation with them in the New Year.

This is a unique and extraordinary opportunity to develop all our initiatives, to proclaim the Gospel, to promote life, truth, justice and peace as the family of St Dominic in the world.  It is an opportunity for the Order to be renewed. It is an immense, yet marvellous work, in which brothers and sisters can find their own place, living an experience that allows them to achieve these goals.  Perhaps we should also ask forgiveness for our sins, of yesterday and today, in order to heal the wounds of history and strengthen our humility, which is the secret to good preaching.  We should also remember the teaching of Pope John Paul II when we celebrated Jubilee 2000, the jubilee of Christianity, that we should not be afraid.

Pope Benedict XVI has just opened the Year of Faith.  We have also begun the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in which many brilliant Dominicans took part and were involved in the preparation of many documents.  The is why we can make our own the words of the Pope, proclaimed on 11th October 2012: “If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a New Evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents”. We must realise that this “necessity” of the Gospel is rightly put in our own path above all, the path on which the Church calls us to respond as joyous preachers of the Gospel.

Dominic de Guzmán “master of mercy” invites us to be renewed as witnesses of the Light shining in the crib at Bethlehem, in our Church which is the “mistress of humanity”.  God wanted to draw near to us, to each one of us, by taking flesh in Jesus, Son of the Blessed Virgin.  During this Christmas and New Year may she refresh in us the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers”!  (Cf. Mt 5,9 and the Message of the Holy Father for this 46th World Day for Peace – 01 January 2013).
Merry Christmas 2012 and a Happy New Year 2013!!
With all our fraternal best wishes,
Commission for the preparation of the Jubilee OP 2016