.- Being Catholic in 2012 involves âpaying a priceâ for loving Jesus Christ and his Church, says Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit.
âIf we are not willing to pay a price for the grace of the revelation then it is a sign that we donât really treasure it,â the archbishop told CNA Feb. 3.
âAnd maybe that is what God is asking us to do â to re-appropriate our own conviction about how precious the knowledge of Jesus is to us.â
Archbishop Vigneron is currently in Rome with 16 other bishops from the Provinces of Detroit and Cincinnati to update the Vatican and Pope Benedict on the health of their dioceses. As part of their âad liminaâ visit, the group has also made pilgrimages to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.
âWhen I see those tombs,â said Archbishop Vigneron, âI immediately think of Our Lordâs big recruitment speech to the apostles when he said âI am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolvesâ and I imagine them looking around at one another and saying âIs he talking to us?ââ
And yet, Christ's prediction that âif they rejected me theyâll reject you,â is present for Catholics âin every ageâ even if âit differs in how it takes its shape,â he said.
He believes that one clear manifestation of this is the Obama administrationâs decision to force all health insurance to cover sterilization and contraception services, including abortifacient drugs. The âprice to be paid,â he said, could be in terms of religious freedom and also financially.
âIf I think about these fines that it seems the government will impose upon us, well that is money I could use in my Catholics schools, itâs money I could use for feeding the hungry, providing services to people with addiction. I expect weâll have to pay a price like that.â
The one price that Archbishop Vigneron said he will refuse to pay is any violation of Catholic moral teaching. As Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York recently said, âtheyâve given us a year to figure out how we can violate our principles â itâs not going to happen.â
On Friday morning, Archbishop Vigneron led the bishops of the Detroit Province as they met with Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience. During the seminar-style discussion, the Pope was asked about how to authentically interpret the Churchâs mind as regards the liturgy.
âThe Popeâs way of talking about it was to say that the liturgy is the experience of the Church and what should happen is that people experience at the Mass the existence of the Church as it is true through all time. I thought that was a very good way to talk about it,â said Archbishop Vegneron
He added that he has âheard the Pope make this point before. The liturgy isnât something we do. Itâs something we inherit and enter into.â
Archbishop Vigneron said the meeting with the Pope also âconfirmedâ the bishopâs own intuition âthat we really have to focus ourselves on the new evangelization,â which involves giving âintentionally focused energy on bringing the Gospel to people who think theyâve already heard.â
That doesnât involve âsome sort of miracle program,â he contended, but does involve âhelping people who are strong in their faith to share their faith.â
The archbishop said he took inspiration from the 19th century English cleric, Cardinal John Henry Newman, who saw faith as growing âfrom being passed from one heart to another heart.â
In modern society, there is immense opportunity to evangelize those âparts of our culture that look upon the Gospel and Gospel way of life as a burden which they seem to think they are fortunate to have escaped,â he noted.
âWhat we bring is not an onerous burden â we bring a liberation,â he said, âand people may not know they do want this good news from Jesus but it really is what theyâre looking for.â
Archbishop Vigneron and the other bishops conclude their âad liminaâ visit on Monday Feb 6. He said they return home full of ânew encouragementâ after a week that has helped them to âtake stock of our lives and to find some new breath to go back to reapply ourselves to our task.â