Catholic Center Mass

Wednesday 4th Week of Advent
Catholic Center Mass 
21. XII. 2022

To Believe. To Praise. To Receive.

In the final days of Advent, the Church invites us to see the mystery of the Incarnation through the eyes of Mary. Yesterday’s Gospel was the Annunciation, and what happened? Mary believed, gave praise, and received. She believed that God’s promises would be fulfilled. Her sinless heart gave God thanks and praise. In the power of the Holy Spirit, she received the Word made flesh.

Here, Mary sets the pattern for our participation in the Eucharist. When the Word of God is proclaimed, we are to believe. As the Eucharist is celebrated, we are to give praise. And then, we are to come forward to receive the One who assumed our humanity so that he could lay down his life for us in love.

Sharing What She Received

To believe. To praise. To receive. A wonderfully simple yet profound approach to the Eucharist. But as today’s Gospel, the Visitation, illustrates, it is not yet complete. Again, Mary sets the pattern for us: Mary shared the gift she had received.

As St. Teresa of Calcutta put it, “In the mystery of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then she shared what she had received.” It is not yet enough to believe, to praise, and to receive. We must also share what we receive.

Notice what Mary did as soon as she learned she was to become the Mother of God. She did not sit at home pondering what all this would mean for her life. Her first thoughts were not about herself but about her cousin Elizabeth. Mary learned from the Angel that her cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month – Elizabeth who was regarded as barren and who was now in her advancing years. She was carrying in the child who was destined to be the forerunner of Christ. St. Luke tells us that “Mary went in haste” and travelled “through the hill country” to visit her cousin Elizabeth – a difficult and dangerous journey. In her selfless charity, Mary wanted to help her cousin in her time of need. But there was another dimension to Mary’s charity, for she brought Jesus to the doorstep of her cousin’s house. Elizabeth said as much: “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

For good reason, we should regard Mary as the first evangelizer – Mary brought the Word made flesh to Elizabeth and to the house of Zechariah.
Mary brought Christ to Elizabeth just as the Church brings the Eucharistic Lord to us. Mary believed. She gave praise. She received. She shared what she had received. And the result? Exultant joy! The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy. Elizabeth gave praise for Mary’s exquisite faith and trust in God’s promises.

Mary uttered her Canticle of Praise, the Magnificat. And word of all this began to spread about the hill country of Judea.

But there is an additional dimension to the pattern Mary sets for us, and it’s this: believing, praising, receiving, and sharing inevitably lead to the Cross. It is easy for us to idealize the Annunciation and the Visitation – to overlook the hardship, the uncertainty, and the misunderstanding
that Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah endured as they embraced their unique vocations in the mystery of our salvation. When we romanticize these events, these mysteries that reveal the hidden designs of God’ heart, we run the risk of relegating them to the past and placing them beyond our reach. But the pattern set by the Blessed Virgin Mary is the pattern for us to follow now, and that pattern includes a readiness to suffer for the Name we proclaim.

The Pattern of Our Life and Mission

Each of us at the Catholic Center is entrusted with vitally important work. In your generosity of spirit, you continually demonstrate that what you do each day is much more than just a job. You are part of a mission, the same mission that unfolded in the life of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah – a mission to bring Christ to others by Word and Sacrament. For that and so much more, I offer you my heartfelt gratitude.

Our Christian life and mission rest on the same “eucharistic” foundation as Mary’s: We are to believe. To give praise. To receive. Yet, it is not enough simply to cherish the mystery of the Lord’s Presence. Like Mary, we must share it, not at some future date, but now, in haste as we seek to be not only the Lord’s disciples but also his missionaries. As with Mary, our mission will take us over hilly and difficult terrain, for as we know, the culture in which we evangelize is challenging. And like Mary, we will experience hardship, uncertainty, and misunderstanding as we go about striving to fulfill our mission, we too are led to the Cross. We are called to participate personally in the sacrifice we celebrate. So, let us persevere, all the while continuing to rejoice and be glad!

Blessed Are We!

As we make final preparations to celebrate the Feast of Christmas, may Mary’s luminous example give joy to our hearts. Blessed are we who believe.
Blessed are we who give God thanks and praise. Blessed are we who receive the Lord of life and love! Blessed are we when we share what we have received. Blessed are we when we embrace the Cross. May God keep us always in his love! Merry Christmas!



Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.