Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Ordination of Kevin Ewing to the Priesthood

“Dear friends, we’ve gathered in joy to pray with and for Deacon Kevin Ewing as today he is ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Today’s ordination takes place on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist and so we ask this great saint not only to intercede for us but also to help us reflect on the beautiful mystery about to unfold before our eyes. Please listen and pray as, in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, I offer a few words of instruction and encouragement to Deacon Kevin, now on the cusp of priestly ordination.

“And so, now, Deacon Kevin, what does this great feast of John the Baptist’s birth say to you and to us all in this grace-filled moment? Might I begin with Isaiah  where the prophet says this of himself and of John the Baptist: ‘The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.’ And again, ‘For now, the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant in my mother’s womb . . . .'”

Read the complete homily HERE.

“The Joy of the Gospel”

The annual Fortnight for Freedom kicked off June 21st with the Opening Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption with a beautiful liturgy. Leaders from across the Archdiocese of Baltimore and many Catholic organizations as well as local civic leaders gathered with the faithful to pray for religious freedom in our nation and around the world. In my homily, I spoke about Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher and their heroic witness to freedom for holiness and freedom for mission.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental, God-given human right that is recognized and enshrined in our Nation’s Constitution. It allows us to act in ways that serve the common good, as motivated by the Gospels and in accordance with our faith. It is one we need to pray for and to protect for the benefit of all Americans, and for future generations.

What better way to conclude this year’s Fortnight for Freedom than with a closing Mass in Orlando, Florida during “The Joy of the Gospel” National Convocation of Catholic Leaders. This will be a truly historic gathering of the Catholic Church in the United States. We will call on the Holy Spirit to inspire us as we seek to respond with one heart, one mind, and one voice to Pope Francis’s urgent call in The Joy of the Gospel to become and to make truly missionary disciples. In a word, to embrace our “missionary conversion.”

As Pope Paul VI reminded us some 40 years ago, the Catholic Church “exists to evangelize.” This is why religious freedom is so precious and so essential. This is why we need to be vigilant and, when necessary, to act to protect it.

In Orlando, we will be exercising this right with gratitude and much hope for the future. Together we will pray, listen, and learn from our most gifted leaders in mission and ministry as well as from one another. We will deepen our bonds of unity and solemnly commit ourselves to carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ in our place and in our time. And we will look for the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide our discussions, always with the will of the Lord and the good of His holy people foremost in our minds.

We look forward to returning to share with the people of the Archdiocese all what we have seen and heard. We ask your prayers for us during this time. And we hope to come home with fresh inspiration for our own Be Missionary Disciples Pastoral Planning process of missionary conversion.

Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Fortnight for Freedom 2017 Opening Mass

“The future must have seemed bright to Thomas More and John Fisher: The first, Sir Thomas More, was Chancellor of King Henry VIII. He enjoyed a widespread reputation for integrity and wisdom. In learning, in virtue, piety, and penance he was luminous. These qualities were reflected not only in his career but also in his household. Erasmus of Rotterdam, a famous humanist scholar and a keen observer of humanity, described More’s household thusly: ‘More had built for himself…a country house that is dignified and adequate without being so magnificent as to excite envy. Here he lives happily with his family… It would be difficult to find a man fonder of his children than he….’ Describing the formation More & his wife provided their children, Erasmus said this:  ‘You would say that Plato’s Academy had come to life again. But I wrong More’s home in comparing it to Plato’s Academy, for in the latter,  the chief subjects of discussion were arithmetic and geometry and occasionally ethics, but the former rather deserved the name of a school for the knowledge and practice of the Christian faith.’

“The second figure was John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester. At 14 he was enrolled in Cambridge, at 22 ordained to the priesthood, at 35 years of age, he was appointed and ordained a bishop. Gentle and gifted by nature, Fisher not only excelled at Cambridge; he also contributed decisively to the excellence of Cambridge itself, and, to no one’s surprise, was appointed its Chancellor. Like More, Bishop John Fisher lived a life of penance and self-denial, all the while devoting himself entirely to the pastoral mission of his diocese. If More conducted his household with Christian learning and joy, Fisher conducted the household of the faith with holiness, learning, and diligence.”

Read the complete homily 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.

Saturday, 4th Week of Easter/Our Lady of Fatima; Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC; Baccalaureate Mass Homily

“Thank you Abbot Placid and President Thierfelder for your kind invitation to offer the Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2017 of Belmont Abbey College. And congratulations to you, our graduates – we are so proud of you! I am happy to share this day with you and with your families and your friends. It is a day of joy and gratitude, a day to celebrate achievements, a day to look back and a day to look ahead. I am confident that Belmont Abbey College has prepared you well for the future by formation in the excellence of virtues and the virtues of excellence. The truth remains, however, none of us really knows what the future holds.

“Commencement speakers (and here I include homilists) sometimes say silly things. Graduates are often told that the world is their oyster (with only a few suspecting that this phrase comes from Shakespeare). They are told that they can be anything they want – even to the point of completely reinventing their identity or that there is utterly no limit to their creativity. Sometimes people like me tell people like you that the world is just waiting for you to emerge from the walls of this college and that your generation will be the one to conquer every challenge, ranging from world peace to the common cold. I came this morning not to say such unrealistic things but rather to pray with you that you may have “a future full of hope”, not a future distorted by mirages.”

Read the complete homily HERE.