Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Solemnity of the Ascension

“First of all, let me say that things have changed quite a bit since I last celebrated Mass here at Ascension. Thanks to your careful planning, your generosity, and your love, and thanks to the wonderful leadership of your pastor, Fr. John Williamson, this church has been transformed beautifully with a handsome new altar as the focal point. I also thank you for working so closely with Father Williamson in order to unite Ascension Parish and St. Augustine Parish in a single pastorate. I deeply appreciate your openness, hospitality, and spirit of cooperation. Warmest thanks and warmest congratulations for all you have accomplished.

“It is also joy for me to celebrate Mass here, on this your feast day, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. The Scripture readings speak of the Lord’s disciples as a work-in-progress; they speak of the greatness of the Exalted Lord’s power on our behalf; and they speak of the mission that has been entrusted to us. Let’s briefly look at these three points.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Transitional Diaconate Ordination

“All dear friends, gathered for this diaconal ordination: Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes how, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles discerned that they should appoint and ordain co-workers to assist them in their ministry. In the first instance, this was a generous response to a genuine pastoral need. The Christian community, made up of Jews and Greeks, was growing rapidly. And while the Apostles must have rejoiced to see such growth, reading between the lines, we get the impression that they couldn’t handle it all. In fact, the Apostles were getting complaints – something I find rather consoling! The Greek converts were complaining that their widows – who were in need of the charity of the whole community – were being neglected.

“The Apostles did not tell these converts to write a report or to fend for themselves. Rather, prompted by the Spirit, they chose seven reputable men. They prayed over them and laid hands on them – or, as we would say, they “ordained” these seven men to assist them in ‘the daily distribution’ – that is to say – in the charitable assistance the community offered to those in need.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Thursday, 6th Week of Easter; Feast of St. Bede the Venerable

“In many places, we would be celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension but here we are celebrating Thursday in the 6th Week of Easter and, happily enough, an optional memorial of the Venerable St. Bede. In light of our foregoing discussions, I would like to reflect briefly on the Venerable Bede as one who literally exercised what is today called ‘the Benedict option’: He withdrew from the world and entered monastic life.

“Born in the 7th century, Bede likely hailed from a noble family in the English Kingdom of Northumbria. When Bede was still very young his family entrusted him to the twinned monasteries of Ss. Peter and Paul, in Wearmouth and Jarrow. By all accounts he was a man of great talent and skill. Indeed, he was an early medieval ‘Renaissance man’, if I may say so. History, theology, philosophy, math, music, grammar – little escaped his capacious mind. One might wonder what he might have done had he not become a monk.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Panel Discussion: “Interior and Exterior Freedom”

“Thank you for inviting me to serve on this panel with President John Garvey. I’m delighted to be with you today to discuss religious liberty and I hope my remarks will provide some fodder for discussion.

“As noted, I serve as the U.S. Bishops’ ‘point person’ on issues of religious freedom, mostly those that pertain to its erosion here in the United States. When I was ordained a bishop twenty-two years ago, this is the last thing I thought I’d ever do for the Bishops’ Conference. So this must truly be a part of God’s plan for my life!”

Read the Archbishop’s complete remarks HERE.

Why Eucharistic Adoration is Important

When I was about 10 years old, I began to serve Holy Mass. I was very proud and happy to become an altar server but also just a little nervous about the distinct possibility that I would make some pretty serious mistakes. By and by I got over that nervousness and, if I may say so, I became a seasoned altar server. I was among those who were always called upon for complicated liturgies such as the Holy Saturday Vigil.

At one point, my home parish had its annual Forty Hours celebration, a period of time set aside each year for Eucharistic devotions. Parishioners were invited to come and spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, placed in a monstrance on the altar. As one of the altar servers, I was expected to take a turn kneeling at a prie dieu in the sanctuary for about an hour. To a boy of 12, an hour can seem like an awfully long time and I was no exception. But something happened during that hour. What my parents and teachers had taught me about the Most Blessed Sacrament began to sink in. I realized that I really was in the Presence of Jesus and that He loved me. It was as simple as that. It was a watershed moment in my young life.

Pope Benedict XVI once said that “…being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament so long ago, I could not have said it so eloquently – but that’s what happened to me.  I truly encountered the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I realized that he loved me and that made all the difference. It’s why I strive, in spite of all my faults and failings, to be a Christian, a follower of Christ and a member of Christ’s Body, the Church. This is why I am a priest.

In this month of June, the Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Lord’s Body and Blood. This great feast is an invitation for us to encounter the Lord more deeply in the Eucharist, the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. It is also a grace-filled opportunity for us to renew our understanding and love of this Sacrament, for it is the most powerful and effective way to encounter Jesus, to enter into his Presence, and to realize that he loves us.

At the heart of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is a wonderful and consoling truth. The Son of God who became one of us, who preached the good news, died and rose to save us, and is now exalted at God’s right hand – this Lord Jesus remains with us in the Sacrament of his most holy Body and Blood. By the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the words of consecration uttered by the priest, bread and wine are completely changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Although the appearances of bread and wine remain after the consecration, in fact, they are no longer such, but rather the living personal Presence of Christ, crucified, risen and exalted.

We call this miracle that takes place on our altars “transubstantiation”. This is how Jesus becomes our spiritual food and drink so as nourish our souls. This is how it happens that Jesus’ heart truly speaks to our hearts. This is how Jesus remains with us, even after Mass is ended, in the tabernacles of our churches. And for this reason the Church lovingly invites us not only to attend Mass but also to take part in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and to take time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle.

Once we have welcomed the Eucharistic Lord into the depths of our hearts, nothing really remains the same. Christianity becomes, not a sideline, but a way of life. What we say and what we do, the choices we make, the way we treat others, most especially the poor and the troubled, all are shaped by our repeated encounters with the Eucharistic Lord. United deeply to Christ our life, we commit ourselves to the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel. We see the Church not merely as an institution but as the Body of Christ of which we are living members. We want everyone to know Jesus and to welcome him into their hearts. We want the Church to be strong and unified so that others may believe.

40th Anniversary of Priesthood Homily

“Tonight I’m honored to celebrate Holy Mass with my brother priests ordained forty years ago, in 1977. It so happens that I too was ordained forty years ago but not for the Archdiocese of Baltimore but for another Archdiocese, just to the south of here. But now that I’ve served as Archbishop of Baltimore for five years, I hope I qualify as a true classmate with the class of ’77 gathered here tonight.

“We’re here to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings of these past forty years. I think I can safely speak for my classmates in saying that these forty years of priesthood have passed by very quickly. I think I can also safely say that a happy priesthood is like a happy marriage. There are ups and downs but most there is happiness in living this vocation. And the priests who join me on the altar tonight truly love and live their vocation. I wonder if you would offer them your warmest congratulations.”

Read the complete homily HERE.

Confirmation at Holy Family Parish Homily

“First, my warmest congratulations to all of you who are receiving Confirmation today here at Holy Family. I know you have been preparing for this important day. You’ve studied your faith; you’ve practiced your faith; you’ve prayed; and you’ve served those in need.

“And let me share something with you. I’ve been confirming wonderful young people like you for a long time and it brings me a lot of joy to do this. I also know that a lot of people work really hard to make your Confirmation a really nice event. And it should be a truly wonderful . . . something you’ll always remember. But it’s not like a graduation when you finish your studies and leave your school returning only occasionally, say for a reunion or an alumni event. As Pope Francis says, Confirmation is not ‘the sacrament of goodbye!’ – goodbye to the Lord and to the Church, goodbye to the Mass and the sacraments. Instead, I’m confident you’re thinking of Confirmation as ‘the sacrament of hello’– a new beginning and not an end, more like a commencement than a graduation. After all, Confirmation perfects your Baptism, your initiation into the Church. It is meant to make you fully a member of the Church, not a part-time member . . . . That’s why, in a few minutes, you’ll renew your baptismal promises.”

Read the complete homily HERE.