Chief shepherd thanks pro-life leaders, participates in Life Chain, urging Catholics to reclaim 'God's plan for His human family'
DETROIT — While celebrating Mass during Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 1, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron invited the faithful to commit to “walking the walk” for the Gospel of life.
The Mass marked the beginning of Respect Life Month, and Archbishop Vigneron invited the faithful to recommit to serving the Lord’s will and honoring a culture of life, making special mention of and thanking pro-life leaders present at the Mass.
“You are here to recommit yourselves to the Lord of life, as we all do, and to be renewed in the graces that are needed to vindicate the right to life,” the archbishop said in his homily, addressing the pro-life leaders. “Here in Detroit, we are renewed in our commitment to the Gospel of life. We thank God ahead of time, as Fr. Solanus (Casey) always reminded us. We thank God for what we know confidently He will do.”
The archbishop pointed to the day’s Gospel reading, Matthew 21:28-32, as a guidepost for Respect Life Month. In the Gospel, Jesus tells the chief priests and elders the parable of the two sons, one who said he would work in his father’s vineyard but didn’t do so, and the other who refused but had a change of heart and went to work.
“This parable that Jesus tells us is my story and your story,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “It is the story of every person and disciple (and) how we have wills that are bent, turned away from God toward rebellion. We are born the children of Adam and Eve with an appetite for sin. What does not serve us appeals to us.”
However, the Lord calls us to put aside this rebellion, like the son who initially refused to work but had a change of heart, Archbishop Vigneron explained.
“We are called to stop saying, ‘We will not serve,’ and instead embrace the life-giving will of our heavenly Father,” the archbishop said. “This dynamic of refusing to serve and then going back to serve, saying we will and then not, this happens throughout our lives — this is not just one moment. At various hours in our life, we are each of these sons — sometimes we only talk the talk, and sometimes we manage to walk the walk.”
The drama of every Christian life is to turn away from sin, to do God’s will and let the Holy Spirit transform us through grace, Archbishop Vigneron said. Part of the Gospel of Life requires Christians to invite the culture to also be conformed to the will of God, he added.
“It is the will of God that life be respected, that His gift be acknowledged and that the right to life be vindicated,” Archbishop Vigneron explained. “And so, in our dedication to the Gospel of life, we always and everywhere must rely on the power of God’s grace. It’s only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that our rebellion and our rejection or distaste for the will of God could be overcome.”
The parable should serve as a reminder that God’s will for the vindication of life needs to be a foundational motive for pro-life work, the archbishop said. There is much good accomplished by seeking to vindicate the right to life; however, the greatest good is to align the order of the world to the will of God himself, he said.
“This is a time for us to recommit ourselves to our efforts to be evangelists for the Gospel. Through such efforts, we are indeed missionaries, pioneers, as it were, in a culture of life, one in which we cherish, defend and protect the most vulnerable from the beginning of life to its end and every point in between,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Why? Because it is God’s will, God’s plan for his human family.”
One practical way this can be accomplished within the Archdiocese of Detroit is through the engagement of parishes with Walking With Moms in Need, a program created to equip parishes with the resources available in the local community to assist and be a safe haven for mothers and their families, the archbishop said.
In addition to Walking With Moms in Need, Archbishop Vigneron invited those present to participate in a life chain in front of the cathedral on Woodward Avenue following Mass. The archbishop himself joined the chain of people holding signs with pro-life messages, visible to passing drivers.
“As the people of God dedicated to the will of our Father, we need to develop a culture where all the poor are assisted, the sick are healed and cared for, the vulnerable are protected. To be pro-life is to be in favor of supporting life in every dimension,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We need a culture where all of our brothers and sisters are treated precisely as brothers and sisters with respect and dignity because they deserve that as God’s beloved creatures.
“We do our work in the service of the Gospel of life as we do all things in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: with confidence in Jesus Christ, who has risen in glory, triumphed over death, and invites us to this work of accomplishing God’s holy will in our corner of the vineyard in southeast Michigan."