Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Friday, January 1, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington celebrated Mass today for the Solemnity (feast day) of Mary, Mother of God at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by reminding the faithful that it is under the protection of the mantle of love of the Blessed Mother that on the first day of the New Year, we look back at the experiences over the last year, and look forward to what is to come in the New Year.

There are “striking moments” as we look back at the previous year, said the cardinal, and cited Pope Francis’ visit to the Archdiocese of Washington in September. It was in the context of his visit that the Walk with Francis initiative was developed, allowing people to pray for the Holy Father and his intentions, commit to serve in some way that would affect the needy and marginalized, and to take action on behalf of our brothers and sisters who face great challenges in life.

Cardinal Wuerl continued, “Last year saw us also continuing on our path of implementing the 2014 Archdiocesan Synod with all of its vision and aspirations for the future of our archdiocesan Church. It was in this context that we saw new efforts to support Catholic education, Catholic Charities, parish life and the New Evangelization – the passing on of our faith.”

“Now, as we turn the calendar and come to today, we look to the future. I would like to suggest four very practical areas where we might continue in the New Year, embracing all of the challenges and opportunities that are ours as disciples of Jesus looking to the future,” said the cardinal.

Citing the holy door at the cathedral, Cardinal Wuerl reminded the faithful that the Holy Father has called a Jubilee Year of Mercy with an invitation for all to renew their faith conviction that Jesus’ love and mercy continues to be available to each of us. “The holy door is a sign of the embrace of God that awaits us as we walk through those doors that symbolize coming, once again, into the full embrace of the Church and her sacramental ministry,” said the cardinal. “Perhaps the first marker as we enter this New Year might very well be the holy door and the invitation to confession, to renewing our own commitment to be merciful and compassionate to others. Here we are reminded that we pray, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’”

A second marker, said the cardinal, was to take inspiration from the visit of Pope Francis to the headquarters of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. “Here, our Holy Father embraced the homeless and those who come regularly to Catholic Charities for a hot meal, necessary clothing items and an opportunity to find a caring welcome.” He called on the faithful to consider service in one of the many activities of Catholic Charities as a volunteer.

“Another marker as we go into the New Year might very well be our recognition of the plight of our brothers and sisters in various parts of the world, Syria, Iraq, the Middle East, Africa, India, where, in some instances, a celebration like we are having today would be, for the participants, a death warrant. We know that these acts of great violence and persecution, this modern genocide, happens because there are people who do them and then there are all the rest of us who are tempted to remain silent.” He continued, “Perhaps this New Year, the commitment can be that we will all raise our voices so that out of the persistent and consistent recognition of persecution and execution of innocent people might come some response from the international community, our government and the voices of opinion makers, newspaper editors, talk show hosts and the information entertainment industry, that these atrocities are taking place today.” The cardinal also called on the faithful to consider raising their voices “against the new selective discrimination being directed towards Christians and particularly the Catholic Church, as it speaks out in defense of human life, marriage, objective right and wrong and our freedom to be who we are in a pluralistic society.”

The final marker was “an assessment of our own participation in the life and works of the Church, particularly at the parish level.” The Archdiocesan Synod called for and recognized the importance of lay women and lay men’s involvement in the life of the parish, the cardinal said. “This can take so many forms of volunteer work. Maybe as we move into the New Year, each of us can simply ask, ‘Is there some way in which I can be more actively involved in the parish?’”

“While the list of markers is not long, it is certainly challenging and all the more reason why we reflect on it as we invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of God and our Mother. May she, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Mercy and Queen of Peace give us courage and constantly intercede for us before her Divine Son. We start this New Year, then, with great confidence and hope. On this first day of 2016 and throughout the New Year, we know that Mary leads us to her Son, who shows us the path to peace, now and forever. In responding to this call of our Lord, in being peacemakers and people of mercy, we can help change people’s hearts and build a better world,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily.

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

Chieko Noguchi
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