Mission Statement: To help provide to the Parish ongoing support, information and useful aids relating to the Church’s teaching and practice on the sanctity of human life. This is to be carried out by:
- Networking with other local pro life organizations such as the Pregnancy Support Center (Portico), the county chapter of Tennessee Right to Life, and other parish-based respect-life groups around the Diocese to provide to St. Luke current information relevant to various pro life activities and initiatives.
- Planning and carrying out liturgical events in the parish with a sanctity of life theme.
- When appropriate, support political initiatives relevant to fostering the Church’s teaching on the life issues.
- Furnish and maintain pro life materials within the parish.
- Provide bulletin announcements with sanctity of life themes on a regular basis.
- Facilitate participation in other diocesan pro life functions such as Forty Days for Life or, state-wide, the Rally for Life or nationally, the March for Life.
A Greater Mercy: Advent and Christmas in the Lord’s Vineyard
By: Kevin Burke, LSW
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke, 1:35)
As we close out the liturgical year and begin the advent season, there is an acute awareness of the passing of time. We experience the rapid progression of another year within own personal and family journey.
But we are also part of a larger mystery that is unfolding; the revelation of God within the human family and across human history. Both are dramas filled with great joy and suffering, times of peace and love among family and friends and times of war and conflict between peoples and nations. Within every life story there are times of loneliness and struggle when facing suffering, physical and emotional illness and other trials and temptations.
We see this reflected in the life of Jesus who is the power and glory of God incarnated in the womb of a humble Jewish virgin. Jesus was cared for and came to maturity in the womb of the holy family of Nazareth. He lived in a particular time and place within the unique historical drama of the Jewish people. Israel’s story is filled with great manifestations of God’s presence and power, but also times when this people would fall from grace and experience periods of exile and terrible suffering. Within their hearts God placed the deepest yearning for his Kingdom, for the fulfillment of his plans for them as a people. The vocation of Israel’s special calling by God would find a particular fulfillment in the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.
Yet many of the leaders of Israel, despite the powerful revelation of God’s power manifest in Jesus, were blinded by their own fear, sin and political agendas and they failed to recognize their King. Jesus wept over Jerusalem knowing the suffering that would come upon His people from this rejection that would leave them vulnerable to seduction by false messiahs. These false prophets and charismatic leaders brought down the fury of Rome upon Israel with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the roads lined with the crucified…just as Jesus predicted. Yet within this time of great miracles, political intrigue, chaos and tragedy was planted the greatest event in human history – the resurrection of the crucified Jesus from the tomb.
We live now in this dual reality; Jesus has conquered death. We know that in the Father’s time He will manifest this final victory over sin, death and Satan to the entire world:
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him–even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. (Rev. 1:7)
Like Jesus, we live in our own times of social and political drama and upheaval. We await this great revelation even as we live the paschal mystery of our own lives. We have our own experiences of great trials and suffering. Times we were tempted to say “my will be done!” The suffering all of us face when our anxiety, fear and the sin of others leads us to deny the will of Christ for our lives and the children he entrusted to us.
Yet we also discovered this great mystery; sometimes in our greatest sin and anguish – we discover an even greater mercy.
Those who have participated in the death of an unborn child, or have been intimately touched by this loss are deeply wounded by the Shockwaves of Abortion; fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends, family, abortion center staff, politicians, pro life advocates and church leaders. When we entrust our broken and repentant heart to Jesus, God showers upon us the greatest mercy and grace, binding and gently healing our deepest wounds, bringing resurrection and new life. All who labor in Rachel’s Vineyard witness this revelation of God’s mercy on each weekend retreat.
Consider that the vehicle of God’s manifestation of his saving plan for humanity was the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her faithful and righteous husband Joseph, and the family, extended family and community life of Nazareth. It is no accident that Satan has made the vehicle of our salvation, the womb of woman, and the procreation of human life, marriage and the family as the battleground for his worldwide diabolical agenda in “our times.” His agenda (as always) is to drive a wedge between God and the human family, and to sow confusion and conflict in marriages, families and communities.
Rachel’s Vineyard is very much part of that unfolding drama, working behind the lines in this battle as you provide a safe place to bring the healing of Christ to all those wounded by abortion loss. Here they encounter Jesus in Word and Sacrament within this beautiful process the Holy Spirit entrusted to Theresa’and in time to all of you who labor in the Vineyard. We know that Jesus is the only physician who can heal such a wound to the heart and soul. But the Lord continues to rely on your special gifts, your humble service and your prayers so that he can bring these souls His reconciliation and peace. Rachel’ Vineyard is so blessed to have such amazing women and men with hearts filled with the deepest humility, faith and love serving in this ministry.
So rejoice dear sisters and brothers this Advent and Christmas Season. Even in our darkest moments of despair and death, we find in the little child of Bethlehem, in his life death and glorious resurrection, our own assurance of final victory over those times of suffering and trial in our lives that, for a time, can darken our vision and dim our hope and faith.
As the houses in our communities begin to sparkle with Christmas lights they remind us of the glory that overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. They draw us to an eternal beauty and light that awaits us as we breathe our final breath: