The Presidential Inauguration two days ago provided an immense contrast with the scenes at the U.S. Capitol two days before my last column here. Two Jesuits had key roles in the ceremonies, including the Homily at the Inaugural Mass and the Invocation. Last Monday we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; in my brief video for that day I reflect on the faith-inspiration we can draw from Dr. King at this time. While I was enjoying the Inauguration Poem (video) by Amanda Gorman, the Youth Poet Laureate, I thought again about the inspiration provided by so many Black Americans who have learned the lessons of resilience in the most trying circumstances. We need that kind of wisdom now.
This period before Lent often brings a lull in church activities, but there is plenty going on around us that I invite you to plug in to. Black History Month begins soon. I know you can find countless resources online, so I will only mention the virtual events from our University of Detroit Mercy, headlined by 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning author Caleb McDaniel discussing his book Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America (Feb. 2 at 6:30PM).
Today is the U.S. Bishops’ Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Their online novena, 9 Days for Life, begins today. Archbishop Vigneron will celebrate a Mass for Life at 11:00 AM this Saturday, January 23, livestreamed at aod.org/livemasses.
Interfaith Harmony Week begins February 1. For the first time it will include on February 4 the new ‘International Day of Human Fraternity’ (Vatican News), recently established by a resolution of the U.N. General Assembly. The resolution was inspired by the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on February 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in their signing a historic document, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” That in turn inspired Pope Francis to write his most recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti (summary here) on fraternity and social friendship, which I presented in our weekly Advent Evening Prayer last December. More helpful inspiration needed in this time of division! Stay tuned – we will do a similar weekly online Evening Prayer this Lent, on a different topic.