Bishop Monforton 2013 Pro Life
2013 Pro Life Message
A few years ago when I was rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit a number of seminarians approached me and indicated that in this month of January they had hoped to invite a number of people over and to host a dinner. The evening would begin with the celebration of the Eucharist with Mass and immediately following all of us would go to the gymnasium at the seminary and have a fish fry. Two or three speakers would round up the evening, speaking about the dignity of life and certainly affording us the opportunity to reflect and meditate over how we fit into this role of serving Our Lord in serving our brothers and sisters about the dignity of all human life as we are all made in God’s image and likeness.
Now the seminarians wanted to use the seminary and I, as the rector, agreed to their endeavor and I asked, of course, would our cooks be the ones preparing the fish fry. They indicated, the seminarians, that no, the seminarians would. I am grateful to the staff at the seminary because they assisted the seminarians in making sure that they would prepare the fish properly and to this day each year the seminarians prepare a fish fry for the guests, which exceed over 150 guests each year.
I say that, because it takes a number of initiatives and it takes also our ability to determine how we may educate our brothers and sisters and strengthen, maybe better yet, embolden them to recognize as well as convey to others that the dignity of all human life is meant to be preserved and not compromised. I say this, because this week commemorates the fortieth anniversary of Roe v Wade. Namely, many in our nation sadly commemorate this fortieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion. While we will pray and continue to pray for the quick end to the legalization of abortion we also are confronted at this time with an attack of our own religious liberty in the form of a health and human resources mandate asking us, actually, demanding that we compromise our Christian integrity. This is a question of conscience and it is a question of truth.
The Letter of James mentions that faith requires works. Our faith is not private. Our faith is public and at the same time, personal. Is it not Jesus who is our perfect model of how we conduct ourselves? Jesus is the agent of God’s will. We witness God’s will through Jesus’ total and undivided commitment in his service to all. This perfect fidelity is also the perfect model by which we model our service and commitment, which invariably entails. as we all know who follow the Lord, sacrifice and yes, self-denial. Jesus’ perfect self-surrender demonstrates not simply the action but the attitude we must possess in taking up our cross and to follow our Lord and God. Our faith cannot be static or complacent. Our Church ill affords complacent individuals. We are co-heirs with Jesus and he invites us to imitate him in all ways and at all costs.
As we commemorate this dark anniversary, this fortieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion, we need to recognize that what we do--whether it is a rosary in front of an abortion clinic or assisting those who are now suffering from having an abortion in their own lives--perhaps through Project Rachael programs or other programs or other ways in which we reach out to our brothers and sisters who, perhaps, are contemplating the act of abortion. We are called to be selfless individuals. We celebrate life from conception to natural death. That means we are called, even in a quiet way, to make a bold statement that we will defend life all the way to the cross, all the way to our own through our own self surrender. It is our firm grounding in the Catholic faith which will enable us to persevere in our own works.
While we find ourselves admittedly in some dark recesses of our culture in this era which diminishes and normalizes the integrity of human life in all its forms, we cannot be complacent and at the same time you and I cannot despair. We are agents of hope. You and I are ambassadors of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As long as we allow our faith to burn brightly, the flame for all to see, throughout the present and even further in later trials, the standard of the cross remains before us. We will be victorious. Our work in promoting life is apostolic work. It is following our Lord, enriching a world in which we live to evangelize our brothers and sisters for them to recognize in the words of Our Lord through the writer St. James, demonstrating faith through works. Some may look at our works as being bold or innovative, but admittedly we simply are being who we are, followers of Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father for you and for me so that we may live.