We have a special chair/seat here at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament known as the Cathedra. Its name is how we get our name: Cathedral. There is only one in the Archdiocese, and only Archbishop Vigneron sits upon it (not even another bishop is allowed to sit there). The chair is a symbol of the Archbishop’s teaching authority in our Archdiocese and in the Catholic Church; it is spiritually and symbolically connected to the Chair of St. Peter. This past Monday, we celebrated the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. There is a second class relic conserved in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City; it’s the wooden ‘throne’ said to be used by our first pope, St. Peter, in his role as bishop of Rome. The relic is enclosed in a sculpted gilt bronze casing designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Pope Benedict XVI described the chair as “a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity.” Matthew’s gospel proclaimed on the Feast reminds us that our Lord declared: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Through the ages, pilgrims have gathered at this relic to be reminded, inspired, healed, and encouraged.
Our Cathedral, too, is becoming a pilgrimage site for relics; many plans are underway to turn Detroit’s cathedral into a place where people can physically and spiritually encounter the stories and heroes of our salvation history, where they can grow in holiness and find hope and healing.
I share this to encourage you to pray. Pray for Pope Francis and pray for Archbishop Vigneron. We should pray for them daily since, in the words of Pope Benedict, they need to keep the flock united in faith and in charity; and in the words of Jesus, they build the church. Pray for those who are here this day to receive the divine. Pray for pilgrims everywhere and in every era, and especially those who will come to our own holy site. Some of you have already been so gracious as to follow through with what I encouraged you to do a few weeks ago: to pray for those who will be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, especially those from our own parish, listed below. I have discovered that it is not uncommon for the Elect to face stronger temptations as we draw closer to Easter. They grapple with the tempter and wonder if joining the Church is what they should be doing. As you pray, I encourage us all to take heart. Our Lord said that the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against His church. Please be assured of my prayers for all of us. Let’s have a joyful and powerful Lent!