The best news Detroit has ever heard
These words, which adorn the seal of the city of Detroit, were infused into our city’s heritage by the French pioneer priest Gabriel Richard, whose legacy near the turn of the 19th century includes representing the Michigan Territory in the U.S. House of Representatives and founding the University of Michigan.
Father Richard coined this Latin phrase, which means “It will rise from the ashes,” after the great fire ravaged Detroit in 1805. Today, the Archdiocese of Detroit has renewed focus on this phrase — and even made it a social media hashtag, #ResurgetDetroit — to denote a rebirth of life in our city.
On Easter Sunday, we focus on rising. It is when Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We allow our hearts to be struck by the intense reality of it — that it actually happened. God was made human. Humans killed God. And God, in turn, rose from the dead and killed death to liberate us humans from the prison of our own making, from our own failings. Today means nothing less to us Christians than the promise of eternal life. And it says everything about the love and mercy our God has for us.
We, in Metro Detroit, want a rebirth desperately. We work for it. And we know of many good people and good efforts that help revive our city. Though we have a long way to go, we already have come a long way. This is not to say that Easter Sunday somehow automatically brings with it the promise that all our hopes and dreams for our Metro area and our lives will be fulfilled. God does not say, “I’ve got this. Sit back and watch me raise this city and heal all of your wounds.”
What He tells us is that we have to come to Him. We must rise with Him. He will give us the strength to contribute to the better future, in our communities and in our families. His Resurrection is our hope. And in this, our own hearts can be healed and renewed.
What we have in Easter is Jesus showing us how this happens. Jesus showed us that the greatest of enemies—death itself — can be vanquished through the most selfless of sacrifices. That is what love is: an action. If we do what Jesus did, we will, indeed, rise above all that is evil, all that destroys, all that prevents rebirth, and all that causes us pain.
This is the best news the human race has ever heard. As we commit ourselves to a more loving life, in our homes and in our city, know that Father Richard’s words ring true — Resurget Cineribus — if we accept the strength God has promised and truly internalize the example He has given us on this holiest of days.
Allen Vigneron is archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit.