2018 Chrism Mass Homily


Recently we initiated the Walk Humbly Podcast, in which I try to address certain issues within our Church and diocese. One of my favorite parts is the opportunity to answer questions from the faithful. Sometimes they are deeply theological: “Bishop, who do you think will win the NCAA Tournament?” Another interesting question was, “What has been your favorite event in the diocese so far?” While there are so many from which to choose, my favorite events include Eucharistic Processions. 

I remember the Eucharistic Procession at our diocesan pilgrimage, at the Life Is Very Good Rally and during my visit to Mary Washington University. I think of the Eucharistic Procession shortly after the shooting last year in Alexandria. The following Sunday, parishioners from the Basilica of St. Mary and I processed with the Eucharist near where the shooting took place. Now, instead of chaos, there was calm. A parishioner said, “We did what we had to do: We brought Jesus to the streets where He is needed more than ever.”

That comment reminded me of another podcast question I was recently asked: “Bishop, what can we do as we see so much darkness in our midst?” First, we have to acknowledge the darkness. How can we not, in light of the recent violence in our schools, the prejudice and hatred we saw in Charlottesville and other cities, and the ongoing failure to protect all of human life and the dignity of all persons?

Upon acknowledging the darkness, we call upon our faith that leads us to profess in a special way throughout these sacred days that Christ, by His own suffering, death and resurrection, has dispelled the power of darkness; has turned suffering to glory and death to life. It is this truth that allows us to echo the words of today’s Responsorial Psalm: “Forever, I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Upon acknowledging the darkness and calling upon our faith, we then go forth to confront the darkness because, as the prophet Isaiah reminded us today, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me...and the Lord  has anointed me and has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly and to heal the brokenhearted.” It is true: we are called to bring the Lord’s presence into our parishes, campuses, streets and communities, not only through Eucharistic processions, but most especially through our witness of holiness and integrity of life.

To do so, we need you, my dear young people, to be on fire with the faith and willing to offer your zeal and commitment in the work of evangelization. More than ever, we need strong marriages as God intended and holy families, for from them a society finds its strength and stability. We need our deacons, those in consecrated life, seminarians and all the lay faithful to teach and proclaim the faith we proudly profess. And we need you, my brother priests, to keep the promises you are about to renew. 

My dear brothers, you are well aware that you have been ordained in the very person of Jesus Christ, the Light who has conquered the darkness, the One who is the Light of the World and who in today’s Gospel quotes from the prophet Isaiah and announces a year of favor. We need you to bring His presence and saving power to all those you meet.

You do so through your faithful celibacy and obedience and your sacrificial service, especially to the poor and most vulnerable; through your prayerful and reflective preparation of your homilies so that you may preach the truth and joy of the Gospel;  through the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Penance; through your reverent and joyful celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments for which the chrism to be consecrated and oils to be blessed at this Mas will be used throughout our diocese. You also do so by reflecting to others the reasons for your joy even in the midst of trials, including our recent ones with the death of Fr. Creedon and Fr. Pilon, and in knowing of the illness and struggles of some of our brother priests.

Pope Francis speaks of the priestly joy we are to radiate as he reminds us: “Our joy is the echo of our holy anointing...an imperishable joy which the Lord has promised and no one can take from us...a missionary joy bound up with God’s holy people...for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, and evangelizing them.” Dear Brothers, may others witness daily the joy that is yours as a Priest of Jesus Christ.

Today, as the Church honors the Priesthood, I renew my promise to support you in every way possible and join Bishop Loverde, all those present and all those you serve in expressing profound thanks for the gift you are to the Church and our diocese. Dear friends in Christ, please continue to pray for our priests and all our seminarians, especially the five who will be ordained to the Diaconate on June 2 and the three transitional deacons (Michael, Nicholas and Christopher) who will be ordained our newest priests the following week. 

My brother priests and dear friends in Christ, with God’s grace and the help of Mary our Mother, and through the faithful witness you offer, bring Jesus to the people and places He sends you, the One who has conquered the darkness and is the Light of the World. Together and forever may we sing the goodness of the Lord! Amen.    


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