Family separations cause trauma, Archbishop Lori calls for end to policy

There can be no reasonable justification for a civilized government to separate children from their parents as a means for enforcing the law. This action threatens the stability of families, unduly inflicts trauma and hardship on those involved, including innocent children, and runs counter to the compassion and justice that are foundational to our American society. I join my brother bishops and so many others of goodwill in calling on our leaders to cease the current practice of separating children from their mothers and to seek other ways of safeguarding our borders.

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Archbishop Lori’s Homily: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time; St. Margaret Parish

“I’m delighted to return to St. Margaret Parish on Father’s Day to offer this Holy Mass for all of our fathers, both living and deceased. Pope Francis has great devotion to St. Joseph and sees him as a role-model for fathers. The Pope often speaks of how St. Joseph guided Jesus so that our Savior would grow ‘in wisdom, age, and grace’. So also, he urges fathers to stick by their children’s side, teaching, guiding, and loving them. My own Dad just turned 97 years old and it still means the world to me when he tells me that he loves me, prays for me, and thinks about me. So, to all our dads let us offer our thanks – and let us hold them up in prayer during this holy Mass.

“Today we also recognize the spiritual fatherhood of the priests who serve you so devotedly here at St. Margaret’s, Msgr. Schenning, Fr. Nicodemus, Fr. Rogue. We thank you for your devoted leadership and service to this parish family. And, in a special way, I want to thank you, Msgr. Schenning, as well as your co-workers and all of you who are part of this parish community for renovating and updating the daily Mass chapel. I am honored to bless it at the conclusion of this Mass.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Sports offer More than on-field Competition

Several area high schools, a number of which are Catholic, have been in the news lately over their decision not to have their football team compete against a school (also Catholic) that has recently become dominant on the field of play. The purpose of this column is not to debate the merits of the rationale on either side.  After all, the schools citing concerns for player safety as the reason for their decision have a responsibility to protect their players if they feel the competitive imbalance is so great it could increase the risk of injuries. And it is a worthy cause for a school that has long created opportunities for youths from very challenging backgrounds to do so now through more than academic means, becoming even more attractive to students wishing to open doors through athletics.

Unfortunately, the decisions on both sides have given way to hyperbole and rhetoric in both traditional and social media and prompted some to make claims ranging from unfair recruiting practices to racism. In the end, these games that brought together students of all walks of life are not going to take place and the greatest loss in this is that the personal experiences and shared interactions that are integral to the mission of Catholic education will no longer take place. Therefore, I am inviting the leaders of these schools—and others—to make it a priority to create opportunities where these children can see each other as individuals, as members of the same human family.

This is a central focus of a Vatican document about sports, “Giving the best of yourself: A document on the Christian perspective on sport and the human person,” which is the first of its kind and, providentially, was released while this conversation was taking place here in Baltimore.  The document analyzes the impact of sports on the integral development of the human person and society, as well as the role of sports as a vehicle for common good and the unity of the human family.

A key focus for Pope Francis, which is both instructive and timely for us as we view this situation in Baltimore, is that sports—especially team sports—provides us a communal experience. It is, he writes, “A catalyst for experiences of community, of the human family…Peaceful competitions can be a context for people to have encounters with others very different from themselves and even help them to have a glimpse of the unity of the human family.”

In an age of texting, online gaming and social media, young people eschew face-to-face encounters for safer and less vulnerable virtual interactions. Sports is a way to bridge those lost personal encounters and mutual experiences.

The recognition of this loss was evident in statements made by some of the schools involved. In a joint statement issued by the heads of two of the schools, the leaders wrote of their schools’ commitment to “explore other ways in which to collaboratively fulfill their common goal of fostering the spiritual, physical and academic development of their students.”  Another school head referenced her relationship with her counterpart as “colleagues and more importantly, friends” and called him a “transformational leader who never loses sight of his students or his mission.” These public acknowledgements provide us with a foundation on which we can build the climate of mutual respect and understanding that is necessary and fundamental to helping our young people grow into adulthood and contribute to the common good of our human family.

For these schools and for all our Catholic schools, we must not let a desire for competitive excellence obscure the integral role that sports can play in the development of young people. Sports is a bridge to new experiences, to unfamiliar faces, and can unite young people to each other in a unique and powerful way.

In breaking down barriers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote of the power of such encounters. I wrote in my pastoral letter on the enduring power and influence of Dr. King’s prophetic teachings: “Often we think we know about our own and surrounding communities. A second look may show, however, that we have a lot to learn. For that reason, Dr. King urged his followers—and now he urges us—to learn all we can about both the challenges as well as the opportunities in our diverse communities. In doing so, we will better understand the nature of the problems to be faced and also the goodness and humanity of people who don’t live so far away from us after all.”

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Knights of Columbus State Deputies Meeting

“When we stop to think about it, Satan’s temptations usually involve two things:

“First, we are tempted to barter our calling to share eternal life and joy for the allure of some short-term and illusory advantage – be it money, possessions, pleasures, or power. Typically, we tell ourselves that God’s judgment lies far in the future, and that the promise of eternal life also lies far in the future… But here and now, at this very moment, in ways both tangible and illicit, I can enjoy myself, I can enrich myself, and I can impose myself on others. For good measure, Satan sometimes whispers in our ears that God really doesn’t mind if we take a few short-term gains. And, in the end, he says, we can presume that, since God loves us, he doesn’t really pay attention to our sins, even those we don’t repent of. So that’s the first thing Satan promotes: shortsightedness and presumption.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Corpus Christi – St. Paul, Ellicott City

“Years ago, when I was newly ordained, I thought of myself a very busy person. After all, I had a parish to serve and a doctorate in theology to earn. I told myself that I had to manage my time well so as to fit everything in. Among the items on my calendar one day was a hospital visit to a parishioner. She was seriously ill and likely did not have long to live. Sad to say, I had ‘budgeted’ only a certain amount of time for that visit.

“After ministering to her, I asked if there were anything else I could do for her. She smiled at this newly minted priest and said, ‘Yes, Father, there is. I don’t have long to live and I’m all alone. Would you sit with me a while?'”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Diaconal Ordination

“Dear friends: I hope you didn’t misunderstand the first reading from the Book of Numbers! It opened with Moses’ complaining to the Lord about the people he had been asked to lead. Moses pronounced them a heavy burden, so heavy in fact, that he felt he’d be better off dead than to continue leading them. I surely hope you don’t think that’s how I regard the Archdiocese of Baltimore! Quite the opposite, actually, because ‘the Lord’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.’

“But I do have this common with Moses: like him, I need many good co-workers in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard, good servants and friends of Jesus to minister to God’s People in our parishes and schools, and in ministries that serve the poor and vulnerable. Today, the Lord in his goodness is providing such co-workers to me and to the whole Archdiocese of Baltimore – six men whose names have been called, six who have consented, six who have been found worthy to serve the Church as deacons. These men are your sons and in one case a husband and father; they are your brothers, relatives, classmates, and friends. Five will continue their formation for the Holy Priesthood and one will serve as a permanent deacon.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Pentecost Sunday 2018; Archdiocesan Confirmation

“It’s the great feast of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and the Virgin Mary and imparted to them his seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, as well as wonder and awe. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles truly understood who Jesus is; they were able to experience his love as never before; and they were emboldened to go out and bear witness to Him. On the very day of Pentecost, the Apostles brought some 5,000 people into the Church. This is how the Church’s mission of preaching the Gospel and winning souls for Christ began and it continues to this very day, some 2,000 years later.

“Dear candidates, this is the perfect day for you to be confirmed. You are to receive the fullness of the same Holy Spirit and the very same gifts of the Holy Spirit that changed everything in the lives of the Apostles. I hope you will not see this merely as a step you have to take in order to get married or to finish off your religious formation, a sort of graduation from the faith. Quite the opposite! For you as for the apostles it should be a new beginning in your life of faith. And I’m here to offer you a four part plan, right out of today’s Scripture readings, for making a new beginning in your life of faith. You should be happy this plan has four parts. When I get to number three, you’ll know there’s only one more to go! So here goes!”

Read the complete homily HERE.