Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm
To watch for life is obviously to ask, in prayer, for the grace of a true respect for life. But it also means encouraging each other to welcome, protect and serve all human life in many ways at different stages of its growth.
On May 22nd, enlightened by the Word of God and encouraged by testimonies of collective commitments in the service of life, we asked God to increase in us this sensitivity to the acceptance of life. 3000 people prayed that through us the Church would be a witness and actor of true development in charity and truth.
Last year, the third vigil for life was a beautiful moment of prayer in the Cathedral of Our Lady. There were even more pilgrims this year, especially with the children and young people of their families. Because education in respect for life is more important than ever.
To download the leaflet of this vigil, Click here.
Homily of Cardinal André twenty-three
Brothers and sisters,
"What must be done to work on the works of God?" (Jn 6:28). At different times in our lives, each of us is called upon to ask ourselves this question. Today, in the time we live in, many Christians ask themselves this question with perplexity, sometimes with a certain anguish. They ask it to us, your bishops, and ask us: "What should we do? Can you tell us what to do, (and we will)? Tell us about it! Mobilize us! »
"The work of God is that you believe in him whom He has sent" (Jn 6:29). This answer does not at all correspond to the question asked. Why then should faith in Christ, "believing in him whom God has sent", really be the answer to these questions? And what signs will the Lord give us so that we can verify that this is the solution, and that we believe in Him? What will he change and return to the present situation so that we can be sure that He is truly the One who alone can dominate what escapes us?
In the desert, Moses did signs: he brought down manna to allow the Jewish people to survive. But even if it was Moses who interceded for God to feed his people, it was God himself who gave the manna, not Moses! This is what Jesus reminds the Jews who ask him questions. Similarly, if we believe that there are resistance and dynamism in the history of men, peoples and societies that destroy life and are rooted in the heart of the human being, it is neither you nor I who can remove them. We are not the ones who are going to change the hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
Are we convinced that the renewal of human existence depends on the death and resurrection of Christ? Are we convinced that our life, which we have received and are trying to lead as best we can, is a gift from God Himself, and not just from those who generated us? Are we convinced that there is a mystery at the heart of every man's and woman's existence that goes beyond the simple tactics of human action? If we are not, we can do many things, but we will not change reality.
This is why, in the defense of the life to which we are all attached, we, your bishops, invite you, year after year, to this process of faith. We know that the real forces that can change the world come from the act of faith we make, from the prayer we raise tonight to God in thanksgiving and supplication, from the surrender of ourselves to God's will, from the opening of our lives and our hearts to the service of our brothers and sisters.
The change of man's heart is based on the possibility offered to grace to touch the freedom of each person. But if we do not master this mysterious encounter, we can contribute to it, first by imploring this grace for our brothers and of course by welcoming it into our own lives. We must understand that mentalities do not change simply because people shout loudly and repeat preconceived ideas, but because there are men and women who are deeply convinced that human life reveals a mystery that we do not possess.
All the human ingenuity that reaches such a high degree today can be put at the service of life to repair accidents and improve our lives, provided that it does not erect itself as an instrument of life domination. Likewise, each of us can put ourselves at the service of our brothers and sisters for love, or use our talents and abilities to control and dominate our brothers and sisters. Human intelligence can produce magnificent fruits in the service of man, and be a source of life. It can also become a factor of death. Yet it is the same intelligence and ingenuity. The same greatness of man can become the nobility of the master who puts himself at the feet of his disciples to become their servant, or the perverse ambition of the servant who wants to take the place of the master.
Where does our life come from? Let's make no mistake about it! That people who do not know God, who have forgotten Him or turned away from Him can live as if they were the masters of life, we understand that. But this must not be the case for those who profess to believe in God, the source of all life, or for those who believe in Christ, the Savior of the world, the living bread for the life of the world. We know that every human life is precious in the eyes of God since he acquired it at the cost of the life of the only Son. Let us therefore offer ourselves generously to bear witness to the dignity of each human existence, from its conception to its end and throughout each of its days. We cannot have a look of indifference for any human being in this world. Nor to those who are powerless, infants, the elderly or the sick at the end of their lives. Nor to those who are sinners, guilty, and who expect mercy. Nor, either, to those who are different from us, strangers, rejected at the margins of our prosperous society, in poverty and sometimes in misery. None of these existences can be indifferent to us. It is from the very love of Christ that we worship the unborn child, the dying man, and every human being throughout his life.
Brothers and sisters, God fed the Jews in the desert and they died (Jn 6:49). He gives us the living bread in the person of Christ so that we do not die and so that we can live. He gives us the living bread: "he who gives life to the world" (Jn 6:33). Tonight we renewed this act of faith through the intercession of Our Lady. We want to continue it in our prayer, in our personal meditation, by placing ourselves at God's disposal so that his life may bear fruit. That is why now, those who desire it and feel called to it will be invited to make an act of commitment before God to put themselves at the service of the lives of men. In spite of our weakness we want, by the gift of the Spirit, to recognize the Gospel of life, the Good News of life. We ask God to support us in the choices we have to make for this service of life.
+ André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris.
Then, after a silence, the Cardinal introduced the prayer:
Brothers and sisters, let us rise up and entrust to the Lord, let us entrust to Him our humanity and especially our country, let us entrust each other to the power of His grace.
We will all say the prayer of intercession together and those who wish will say, each in a low voice, the prayer of commitment. Those who do not feel ready tonight, those who do not wish to commit themselves in this way, may they pray that others will be faithful to what they will promise.
Living God, Father God, Son and Holy Spirit, You are the God of the living and not the God of the dead.
You give men to generate each other but also to help each other to live and even to make each other more alive.
Science and technology have acquired an extraordinary capacity to understand and control the mechanisms of life. We pray to you, inspire men with a deep respect for human life.
Inspire us to help each other to welcome all human life as a gift.
Inspires physicians and researchers with useful research avenues to treat the most serious diseases and relieve suffering.
Inspires our political and social leaders with the courage and lucidity to seek the good of all, the freedom to hear the voice of reason.
Above all, inspire everyone to love life. Gives everyone the opportunity to learn to love, including the fragility of their body. Gives everyone the opportunity to gather the fruit of each age of life without trying to dodge it. Put in the hearts of all the necessary generosity, mutual trust and concern for others to surround the beginnings of life with respect and love and tenderness the great strippings at the end of life.
We, your children, baptized in the death and resurrection of Jesus, ask You to strengthen in us the respect for human life. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen us so that we may know, through our daily actions, through the way we look at others and ourselves, how to witness to the beauty of human life at each of its stages.
Those who wish to pursue it in a low voice:
God very good, entrusting myself to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, carried in the communion of your Church, I commit myself to keep your commandments. I commit myself to implementing the Gospel of life in each of my actions: by the unconditional acceptance of every human being, from conception to death; by a glance without concupiscence at others; by respect for marriage as You have given it to men; by attention to my words and gestures to keep me from any contempt or judgment; by service to the most fragile and recognition of their high dignity.
I commit myself to a continuous effort to seek to know and understand your Church's discernment of the powers that humanity is acquiring and to comply with them.
Lord, Creator and Redeeming God, I know my weakness. I thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows me to recognize the Gospel of life. May this Spirit support me in the choices that will be presented to me over the years. May He help me to grow in confidence in the judgment of the Church. May He transform my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of believers, Mother of the Church, you who have welcomed into your flesh the Word of God, you who have accompanied your Son to the foot of the cross, you who have received his disciples as if they were your Son, may your maternal intercession always surround us. May it support us in times of trial, may it give us the opportunity to fully experience joy by giving thanks, may it always assure us of forgiveness to receive. Watch out for those who today are faced with difficult decisions and wonder where the good is. Ask for the Spirit of light and strength for them. Pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.