Archbishop's Homilies 2010

Vigil for Human Life 13 November 2010

Vigil For Human Life, Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne,on Saturday 13 November 2010 At 5 pm.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are gathered to pray for human life in the womb, to reverence the sacredness of life as God’s gift, to remember parents and families who are making decisions about their future, and to stand in prayer and solidarity as a witness to our community of the fundamental value of the life of each person; young or old, well or sick, believer or non-believer.
Throughout this hour let us thank God for the great gift he has given us of unique and gifted life in Australia, a land of plenty.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“What is man that you keep him in mind?”  (Psalm 8:5) As human beings we always reflected on the purpose of our own existence.  From the time of Adam the whole of humanity waited for Christ the Redeemer; the full revelation of the love of the Father.
Today and in two weeks’ time in other places in the world the cry will go up to God the Father welcoming Christ who took our human nature, showing that God said a great yes to human life.
“For by his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being … born of the Virgin Mary he has truly been made one of us.”  (Gaudium et Spes, 22)
Today the Church feels in duty bound to speak out with courage on behalf of those who have no voice, to reaffirm in a vigorous way the value of human life and the fact that it is inviolable.  At the same time, we make a pressing appeal to each and every person in the name of God: “Respect, protect, love and serve life every human person.”  (Evangelium Vitae, 5)
The great gift of God to our world is that each of us is different and unique.  One thought which I treasure is that God loves each of us as if we were the only person in the world.
“To defend and promote life, to show reverence and love for it, is a task which God entrusts to every human being.”  (Evangelium Vitae, 42)  So it is a right and duty that belongs to everyone.  We, who have gathered to pray, have to try to convince other members of our society of this sacredness, because life belongs to God. 

The family as the sanctuary of life has an irreplaceable role in this task and this right and duty belongs to families.  We urge parents to educate their children, to welcome a new baby into the world, to respect frail, older people, to build a culture of love and welcome, which will embrace all humanity.

At times this might seem a huge task.  However, if we look at the witness to life around the world we cannot but be struck by the strength of the Pro-life Movement in America, for example. 
Each of us has a task summed up:
1.    By living and celebrating the Gospel of life;
2.    By rejoicing in God, the Author of life, and in our own life to pray, to participate in the liturgy and the Sacraments.

But above all it is most important that each of us carry out in our own daily life the celebration of the Gospel of life.  There is a spirit of charity towards everyone also by our own self-giving.  Are we here for our self, or are we here for others?  We have to actively show care for all life and for the life of everyone and by doing this we have to promote a culture of life, where “the people of life” with their vast and diverse associations and groups are called to fulfil unique and irreplaceable service for life within society.

The challenge which we have is stronger than a solely political activity.  It is something which comes from our nature and conviction, something which we can do by affirming the dignity of each person.  It may be the way we treat a beggar on the street.  It may be the way we treat children, even when they are naughty.  It may be the respect and love and reassurance we show to older people.  This brings an irreplaceable service for life within our society, notwithstanding laws which promote the opposite. 

By love and respect and hard work, we in Victoria have a huge challenge, to come from a culture of death to a culture of life.  If each of us shows love and respect of live, particularly in its weakest forms, then our dignity as a State and Nation will be enhanced and we will be fulfilling the mission which God gave to each of us.

Thank you for participating in this Prayer Vigil for all nascent human life.  It is meant to be a cry of all humanity, rising up to God the Father, the giver of all good things, in order that every human life is respected, protected and loved.  Saint Irenaeus said:  “The glory of God is humanity fully alive.”

+ Denis J. Hart,