The Baltimore Basilica’s bicentennial celebration symbolizes the resilience of our faith and the hope we have for the future.
While praying in a local worship chapel on a Sunday recently, I suddenly heard someone start sobbing and then run out of the chapel. I quickly bowed to the Eucharist and set out to find it. There she was, crying on the steps of the chapel. As I tried to comfort her, I found myself saying, ‘Last year has been horrible’, to which she exclaimed, ‘Yes it was! Thank you for saying that. “As I sat there and spoke, I thought how remarkable it was that the Church, especially our Lord present during Worship, was the means of bringing us together and helping this woman to come together. face his distress.
And it’s in this atmosphere weary of the situation that God in His mercy has given us the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the first Catholic cathedral in the United States, the Basilica of Baltimore (formerly known as the ‘Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary â). Yes, there have been many glimmers of hope and many blessings associated with last year’s pandemic, but I am delighted now to have the chance to celebrate and in the joy of Jesus and Mary, in our Church. After a year of dealing with not only the effects of the coronavirus, but also some of the most controversial political conflicts and downtown areas, Catholics can look to the 200th anniversary of America’s first cathedral and see a stronghold that has become us through many difficult periods in US history.
The Baltimore Basilica’s 200th anniversary celebration symbolizes this resilience of our faith and the hope we have for the future. Whatever obstacles stand before us as Catholics living in the United States today, we can be confident that Christ will walk hand in hand with us and with his mother. That 2021 will also be the Year of Saint Joseph is an additional reminder for us to model the perseverance of this saint. I think in particular of how difficult it must have been for Saint Joseph to endure his exile in Egypt, even with his family. And yet, clearly strengthened by the presence of Jesus and Mary, Saint Joseph overcame this and other difficulties and continued to do the will of God. We can too, as we model Saint Joseph in 2021, no matter what is going on behind us.
When we find ourselves in times of frustration, like the woman I comforted outside the local worship chapel, we have Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as a particularly strong means of encouragement now and in the future. ‘to come up. To see Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration begin at Baltimore Basilica on the same day as its anniversary celebration is yet another reminder of what we have as a way to stay strong no matter what we are in store for. I can say with Saint Paul: âI can accomplish everything through Christ who strengthens meâ (Philippians 4:13). By praying with our Lord in any chapel of Adoration, I can meditate on his life and that of the Blessed Mother and choose to model their openness to our Heavenly Father, who loves us so much and knows what is best for us. we. Like Jesus and Mary, I can choose to take up my cross and let God do something good for others with it. It is the power of the Eucharist. It is the power to live the Catholic faith. And then, like Saint Paul, I rejoice!
Baltimore Basilica’s 200th Anniversary Celebration also reminds me of the impact that the Baltimore Catechism has had on so many lives. My own mother’s life was forever changed by being presented there. As a young woman from a farming family in Ohio, she had to travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to work in a WWII fighter parts factory. world, another difficult time for many Americans.
Working in Fort Wayne also meant that mom had to live with a family and care for their children as a way to afford housing. Mom recalled that during her presentation to the family, the Baptist mother of the children, married to their Catholic father, gave my mother a copy of the Baltimore Catechism with the remark: “And when you have time, please. please read this to the children. My mother remembered being appalled. Raised in a family from a branch of the Amish religion, Mum described herself as not only Protestant but also anti-Catholic. And yet, as she began to read the Baltimore Catechism, she said to herself, âThis is the truth.
A single woman in the 1950s, my mother converted to Catholicism. At that time, she recalled that in order to do this, she had to kneel in front of the priest and declare: “And now I will reject this heresy …” before being confirmed. And yet she did so despite her family’s disapproval and continued to meet and marry a Catholic man and raise a Catholic family. I am grateful for the impact the Baltimore Sunday School has had on my family.
Knowing the influence of the Baltimore Catechism on my mother, I keep a copy in my home of the Catholic Catechism promulgated by Pope Saint John Paul II. It is a great reference when I have confusion about areas of our faith that need clarification or that arise while evangelizing other people. Worship has also been a great place to sit and slowly read catechism for several months, to let our Lord teach me faith in the calm of the chapel with him.
What awaits us, we do not know. Some have described these times as dark times. But I thank God for His mercy in giving us the Baltimore Basilica anniversary celebration as a shining example of the power of Christ and the comfort of Mary our mother that we always have with us. Rejoice!