Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Christmas Masses

Friday, December 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, blessed the crèche and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, he celebrated Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

At the Christmas Masses, Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by reminding those gathered that the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity includes both a historical reflection as well as a liturgical, sacramental celebration. “The Liturgy of the Word, among other things, points out the actual time, place and circumstances of the birth of Jesus,” said the cardinal. He then spoke of how we gather to celebrate the Lord’s enduring presence with us through the Eucharist. “But we are not just bystanders who hear and experience Christ, we are called to do more. We are called to be followers of the Gospel, or as Pope Francis says to be ‘evangelizing disciples.’ In our actions, we should show what we have heard with our ears, felt with our heart and experienced in our soul that Jesus Christ is the way to a better world, the answer to the questions of the human heart, the response to the violence and confusion around us.  He really is the Prince of Peace.”

The cardinal continued, “Pope Francis tells us that if we are true disciples, we are people of mercy and compassion. This Christmas our Holy Father has inaugurated a Year of Mercy so that we can all experience the effects of Christ’s coming, his compassion, salvation, redemption, love and mercy in our lives and through us in the lives of others.” At the start of the Year of Mercy on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Cardinal Wuerl celebrated Mass at both St. Matthew’s Cathedral and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by opening a holy door at each church. In his Christmas homily, the cardinal stated that the purpose of the holy door was to recall for each of us the invitation of Jesus to enter into his kingdom of mercy, compassion and love. He invited the faithful to see in the holy door “our own access today to God’s realm of compassion,” and make God’s love and mercy present among us.

As he concluded his homily, the cardinal suggested, “Today at the end of Mass, each one of us can carry away from this celebration a gift, a gift of compassion, kindness, something we can share with someone else this Christmas. Perhaps we can make the commitment to some tangible, personal act of compassion, forgiveness, mercy, whatever it might be to someone else in this season of grace. As we leave this Mass today, let us take with us a spiritual sign of the birth of Christ – a commitment to God’s mercy – a mercy we are prepared to share with others just as God’s mercy has come among us in his Son and our Savior, Christ the Lord.”

After the Christmas Day Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the cardinal stopped in to visit the guests who were in attendance at the Shrine’s Christmas dinner. In this annual tradition, volunteers serve a free Christmas meal to those who are alone or are in need and deliver additional meals to families throughout the region; this year, more than 2,000 people were served meals on Christmas Day.

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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