The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit and Christians around the world today are observing a Good Friday far different than what we are used to experiencing. Yes, Christ was crucified and laid to rest in the tomb on Good Friday, and, yes, we still look forward to his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
What is different this year, though, are the anxieties, fears and worries that have filled our hearts and communities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic: fears about our health and the health of our loved ones; worries about widespread economic hardship; anxieties about what our society will look like when the pandemic passes.
These feelings are not unlike those felt by the Apostles when they saw Jesus beaten down and hanging from a cross. What would happen to them now? Would they be arrested and crucified, too? What would become of the nascent community of believers that was building up in the wake of Jesus’ ministry? Where should they turn now that their master had been taken away?
The Resurrection changed everything. When Jesus rose from the dead, he fulfilled his promise to defeat sin and death. He then appeared to his disciples, confirming for his followers that he had not left them and that he would always be with them.
But just days later, on that very first Easter Sunday, Christ emerged victorious from the tomb. It wasn’t some parlor trick — it was the most extraordinary event the world had seen. The Resurrection changed everything. When Jesus rose from the dead, he fulfilled his promise to defeat sin and death. He then appeared to his disciples, confirming for his followers that he had not left them and that he would always be with them.
We are like the disciples after Christ’s passion and death, perhaps tempted to despair and wondering what will become of us and of our society. Much like the Apostles, we need to look to Sunday and remember that Jesus is not dead; he is alive, he is Risen, and he is still near. And, as happened in the days following that first Easter Sunday, when the bread and wine are consecrated this weekend to become the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus will — in a very real way — be in our midst, wherever we celebrate this holy day.
While we cannot gather to share in the Eucharist as we would like to, we, as disciples of Christ, must abandon ourselves to the will of God, remembering that he is in charge and that this has been the Lent that he has wanted us to have, perhaps as a way to foster among the people of God a greater love and appreciation of the Sacred Liturgy and the Eucharist. I believe this difficult journey has helped our Church in Detroit to be united in a deeper way to Christ’s passion and because of that, we can partake in a greater way in the glory of the Resurrection.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to use this time to bring the hope of Jesus to a world that so desperately needs something to hope for. We are called to see the world with the eyes and heart of Jesus, sharing our witness, our hope, and our serenity in God’s providential Lordship, so that our friends and neighbors might look to us and say, “They have something I want,” and we can say, “Yes, we have Jesus, and he wants you to have him, too.”
Let us be one in praying for those who are suffering the effects of the coronavirus and, in particular, let us entrust those who have died to the care of Our Lord, that he may welcome them with open arms into his heavenly kingdom. And I invite all to join me in offering prayers of thanksgiving for health care workers and first responders who have, and continue to, make merciful sacrifices for the health and well-being of all.
Jesus has not abandoned you.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Anne, pray for us. Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will celebrate the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 1 p.m. Friday, the Easter Vigil at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Easter Sunday Mass at 11 a.m. Sunday. All Masses will be closed to the public but livestreamed online. For more details and a schedule of livestreamed Masses at various parishes, visit www.aod.org/holyweek and www.aod.org/livemasses. For other resources to help stay spiritually close in a time of social distancing, visit www.unleashthegospel.org/spiritual-closeness.