In the season of Advent, the light of God’s love dawns upon a people living in darkness. This is Advent season in the City of Baltimore. So often, all we see or hear about Baltimore is gloom and doom. The news is mostly about violence, drugs, homelessness, and poverty. These are very real and heartbreaking problems which we cannot ignore. What kind of people would we be if these things didn’t break our hearts?
Yet a broken heart is not enough. We also need to have a hopeful heart and there is hope aplenty all around us – as this Kianna’s beautiful talk showed us. I would say that goodness is on the rise in Baltimore and beyond and that Catholic Charities is leading the way. It isn’t about talk. Catholic Charities is all about action. It’s all about acting on the bedrock conviction that each person is endowed by God with dignity, indeed a spark of the divine exists in the depths of each person. This is what drives programs that face head on the very real human problems all around us – Our Daily Bread, job training, Safe Streets, housing, behavioral health programs and so much so – services delivered effectively and professionally but also with a heart, services delivered with faith and love.
Yes, goodness is on the rise, right here in Baltimore. Unfortunately that is a well-kept secret. Negative narratives feed on themselves, become self-fulfilling prophecies, and only deepen our problems.
The friends and supporters of Catholic Charities, can do something about this. All of us have influence in greater Baltimore. All of us have networks. We have the power to change the negative narrative about Baltimore. Instead of gloom and doom, the narrative we embrace is that goodness is on the rise. The narrative we embrace is that by journeying together we can create a brighter future.
Thank you for helping goodness to be on the rise here in Baltimore and beyond. May you experience the fullness of joy and the greatest of blessings during this Holy Season of Christmas!
“Good morning! I’m delighted to return to Transfiguration Catholic Community to celebrate a Sunday Mass, especially in this beautiful season of Advent, when we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.
“Before reflecting with you on today’s Scriptures, I would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your being a light brightly visible in this part of Baltimore City. By your zeal for the Word of God, by your vibrant and heartfelt worship, and by the missionary and charitable outreach of this parish, you show the possibility of a way of life that is transfigured by the goodness and beauty of Jesus – and for that I sincerely thank you. This community of faith will continue to play an essential role in the evangelization of the City of Baltimore and I look forward to the work we will do together now and in the years ahead.”
Read the complete homily HERE.
Dear Friend in Christ,
There is a popular expression often heard this time of year urging people to “Keep Christ in Christmas,” a not-so-subtle reminder to focus on the true meaning of the holiday as we are rushing around trying to complete a seemingly endless to-do list in the run-up to the Big Day. The Archdiocese has taken a similar page from this familiar slogan in its annual Christmas radio ad campaign inviting people to “Make time for Mass” this Christmas.
While it may, at times, seem difficult to add even one more thing to our schedules this month, when we take time to pray–either alone, with our family, or during Mass, we experience a kind of spiritual “rejuvenation” that helps us to remain focused on Jesus’ birth and strengthens us with the closeness to Christ that comes from prayer. Whether you attend Mass regularly, a few times a year or not at all, please consider attending Mass at a parish near you this Christmas.
Another way we can keep Jesus at the center of our Christmas celebration is by bringing hope into the lives of those less fortunate. I was grateful once again to participate in the Knights of Columbus’ annual Coats for Kids campaign earlier this month. I helped my brother Knights hand out 1,100 warm winter coats to needy children in West Baltimore. The joy on the faces of the children was greater than any gift I could receive and reminded me how blessed we are when we share the gift of God’s love with those around us. Whether volunteering at a Catholic Charities program or making a donation to one of the many programs and ministries supported by our Archdiocese, we have many ways of sharing God’s love with those in need, a true Christmas gift for those we help, but even more so for us!
With joyful anticipation of the birth of our Savior, I pray that you and your loved ones will have a blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas.
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend William E. Lori
“As we approach the end of this current liturgical year, the Scripture readings at Mass call us to reflect on the final judgment when Christ will come ‘to judge the living and the dead.’ The tale of the three servants in today’s Gospel is a case in point. The Master of the household is Jesus and the household in question is the Church. Each of us is represented by the servants to whom the Master entrusted a portion of his wealth. Just so, through the Holy Spirit, the Lord has given each of us ‘talents’ and has given us a lifetime to develop and use those talents One day, however, the Lord will return in glory to ask us what we did with them. This is the question the Gospel poses to you and me: What am I doing with the ‘talents’ God gave me?
“Now, the word ‘talents’ means that share of God’s own goods, the inheritance, if you will, that he has entrusted to each of us. And so it might refer to the natural talents God has given us and we need to ask if we developing and using our talents or wasting them. The word ‘talent’ can also refer to the material blessings bestowed on us. Are we using those blessings not only for ourselves but also for the good of others? Above all, the word ‘talent’ refers to the spiritual blessings which God, in his mercy, has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Among those spiritual blessings is the call to be a leader in the Knights of Columbus, and the many opportunities for spiritual growth through charity the Order offers us. What are we doing with all these wonderful gifts?”
Read the complete homily HERE.
In the wake of the recent church shooting in Texas, many people, including politicians, reporters, and other public figures, took to traditional and social media to share their opinions. Among the expected and reasonable comments about issues such as gun control and mental health, was a shocking dismissal of the value of prayer. Editor, D. Watkins wrote in Salon that victims of mass shootings “deserve justice and to be honored…Most of all, they deserve reform, not just tweets about prayer.” Comments like these sparked a debate on social media about the importance and role of prayer. “Just because you might not believe in prayer, doesn’t give you the right to publicly insult those who do,” responded Jeremy Hunt in an opinion piece.
The very idea of prayer is foreign to many people, including those who consider themselves to be practicing Catholics. For many prayer is a formality or merely a way of assuaging God or perhaps a way of leveraging divine favors – but not the lifeblood of discipleship or the path to that holiness and charity which should be the hallmark of every disciple and every worshipping assembly. Many people go through life without really developing a life of prayer. When they encounter life’s inevitable sorrows, its tragedies, and the assaults of temptation, they are without defense or consolation. How often do we find people questioning the goodness of God, if not his very existence, in time of trouble, such as the church shooting in Texas?
But it is in precisely such times that we are reminded of God’s mercy and love and it is through prayer that we draw ever closer to our Loving Father.
Prayer is the means by which we deepen our loving relationship and friendship with God, a relationship that begins on the day of our Baptism. Through sustained daily prayer, we come to know the Lord and develop the trust that is at the heart of a life of prayer. We trust in His love, in His plan for us.
When we pray, we simply follow the words our Savior taught us through his instructions to the first apostles (Luke 11:1):
* Lord, we give you our praise…in good times and bad.
* Thy will be done, not only in heaven but here on earth and in our day.
* Give us our daily need.
* Forgive us and help us to forgive others.
* Protect us from the evil that tries to convince us you do not care.
Ironically, at around the time of the church shooting in Texas, the woman who leads the prayer ministry of the Archdiocese of Baltimore experienced the sudden loss of her adult son. His death might have shaken the faith of the most ardent supplicant. Pat, however, turned immediately to her Heavenly Father for the strength to endure such sorrow. As she came to terms with her grief and reflected on the comfort she received from the Lord to who she so devotedly prays, she unselfishly decided to share the gift of God’s love with others. “I would not allow the pain and sorrow of the moment to keep me from sharing with others that closeness to Christ that is available to all,” she said.
Prayer is a gift. It is a gift we receive from God to better know him and his unending love for us. We need this gift in our lives, in good times and in bad.
In the spring of 2002, I sensed, as did many people in the Church, an impending national crisis – and it was a crisis of trust. And so, the bishops came together. We made both a moral commitment and a legal commitment, a commitment under Church law, to handle and respond to this crisis.
I became involved in drafting what is known as the “Charter.” The Charter is the document that lays out the course of action that the dioceses are expected to follow in handling and responding to sexual abuse allegations – dealing with past allegations, creating a safe environment, reaching out to victims and cooperating with law enforcement.
Please take time to visit this special page on archbalt.org that provides more information about the 15th anniversary of the charter, the child protection measures we have enacted in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and our outreach to victims of sexual abuse. There is also more information from archdiocesan, school and youth ministry representatives in the video below.