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Chrism Mass 2003

Cathedral of Mary Our Queen

Es una bendición para todos nosotros en la Arquidiócesis de Baltimore el tener un número tan grande de católicos que hablan español. A todos ellos les dirijo estas palabras para expresar nuestro profundo aprecio por los dones de fe y devoción a la vida familiar que ustedes nos dan. Pido a Dios que les guíe para encontrar la mejor forma de proveer una educación católica para sus niños y jóvenes, y así continuar siendo un testimonio de una fe viva en Jesucristo, y para alentar las vocaciones al sacerdocio y a la vida consagrada.

This evening we gather in our Cathedral for a very special and wonderful moment in our pilgrimage toward Easter. We come from throughout the Archdiocese for an evening that helps us look to the past, consider critical aspects of the present and prepare for the future.

We consider the present in the light of unfolding history, of where our world, our nation, our state, our communities find themselves today. We come with our burdens, our burdens as citizens of a world where peace has been fractured: in distant Iraq, in Jerusalem and that region in Central Africa where violence has erupted; we look to our own hemisphere, to Haiti and our sister diocese there, where the poverty is almost beyond imagining; we consider what happens along the streets of this and other large cities in the United States, where despair verges on desperation. We remember our pain in the Church herself. Sadly, there is so much blood, so much human sadness, so much frustration and disappointment.

Yet, in the midst of such disasters, there are also moments of light and of hope. A chaplain from the Diocese of Raleigh, the classmate of Father Rick Hilgartner, could write the other day from "south of Baghdad," "…the peoples were cheering and waving palm branches [as we drove through their cities]! Reminds me of the victory our Lord achieved through his passion, death and RESURRECTION! Knowing that God can take something as awful, humiliating and senseless as crucifixion … and transform it into something life giving, meaningful and beautiful. This tells me that God can take the worst things I’ve done or that have been done to me, or the worst misfortunes … and transform them. In God’s hands nothing is unforgivable and everything is transformable! …"

Yesterday the word came that Shoshanna Johnson, who sent home for the Rosary she had forgotten as she left for the Gulf region and who was taken prisoner in Iraq, had been freed. On Saturday, in our pilgrimage through the streets of Baltimore, the young people prayed the Rosary and they prayed it especially for this young Catholic woman, who prized her Rosary.

We look to the past through the eyes of the prophet Isaiah, the Apostle John, in the Book of Revelation, and the evangelist Luke. We hear again of a marvelous anointing with God’s Holy Spirit, an anointing that will bring remedies to soothe and knit up humanity’s most painful wounds, as Isaiah foretold, "proclaiming glad tidings to the lowly" and healing for "the brokenhearted." We know that he is coming, God’s "faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth," according to the vision of the Apostle John. We know that he is here, he who unrolled the scroll in the synagogue of Nazareth, read the words of Isaiah and announced, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

At this Eucharist we pray for and with those who suffer and we rejoice here with those present this evening whose ministry and faith and prayer and efforts the Lord is using to continue to accomplish what God had announced long ago through the prophet in Jerusalem and began to realize through his Son at Nazareth.

We should take heart from the hundreds of young people who the day before yesterday gave witness to their own joyful faith as they walked with Bishop Malooly and me through the streets of this city. They sang, they prayed the rosary, the great prayer honoring the Mother of God and seeking her prayer for the healing of our world. They thus relived the scenes of the Gospel of Jesus and then enacted his procession into Jerusalem with their palms and with their concern for the poor and the hungry. This was manifested in their gifts to Our Daily Bread. Then they participated in the proclamation of the Passion and in the Eucharist, singing, proclaiming their sense that, once again, he has "overcome the world."

Touched by their joyful enthusiasm, we salute with gratitude many who are present:

There are the Catechumens, preparing for Baptism and that anointing of the Spirit that profoundly changes the person baptized. This year the 276 Catechumens for the Archdiocese represent an increase from the 206 who were baptized last year. Baptism brings a newness of life beyond our imagining, and a unique relationship with our heavenly Father. Will the Catechumens please stand and accept our encouraging applause?

Next are the Candidates, preparing for Confirmation and full membership in the Church. This year the candidates in the Archdiocese number 610, an increase from 479 in 2002. The Holy Spirit will touch and strengthen them with the grace to bear witness to Jesus, the Son of the Living God, and give service to others in his Name. I invite the Candidates to stand and be acknowledged.

We must remember those have prepared them and accompanied them on this road to Easter joy: these are the members of the RCIA team in the parish, ecclesial lay ministers including Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, teachers and religious; and the deacons on the team, in short, all who assist the pastor in leading the catechumens and candidates on the way to insertion into the Body of Christ which is the Church. Will those who are members of RCIA teams and also the godparents and sponsors of our Catechumens and Candidates please stand? You will soon affirm your commitment to the apostolates of proclamation and service.

Those in the consecrated life give a remarkable witness to the power of God's grace and to the presence among us now of the kingdom that is to come. Their generous and faith-filled work as Pastoral Life Directors, Pastoral Associates and Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education is worthy of our recognition now.

There are also our deacons who minister the word of God in proclamation to us, and assist at the table of the Eucharist and the table of Christ’s charity. I invite the deacons to stand that we may acknowledge them. In a few moments you will renew your pledge of service to the Living Word of God.

A special salute to our priests is much in order. Their ministry is a vital one, as they act in the person of Jesus in pouring the baptismal waters of rebirth, in pronouncing the words of pardon in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in witnessing marriages and, most especially, in celebrating the Eucharist. God bless our priests. I invite them to stand as we salute them!

The priests will be first now to renew their commitment to God’s service.