Most Rev. William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore welcomed attendees to the ChristLife National Conference and provided a few remarks to encourage everyone in the work of evangelization.
He began by sharing how ChristLife has grown in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He said, “When I began serving here four years ago, I think there were about nine parishes that were part of ChristLife. And today I think we have 60. I don’t take any credit for that. I think the Holy Spirit and Dave Nodar did that. I want join you in thanking God for the growth of this ministry both in the Archdiocese and beyond…”
He moved on by saying that while growing up, he was constantly asked if Jesus was his Lord and Savior. “Back in the day I was a reasonably well-catechized young man, who had a penchant for theology, yet the question about Jesus as my Lord and Savior and my personal salvation seemed to me, back then, to be just a bit foreign... Like many Catholics, I filtered out the directness and the challenge of that question vis-à-vis the quality of my relationship with Christ.” He continues to be haunted by the question and considers that a good thing.
He shared that Pope Francis challenges him with essentially the same question, not only by his preaching and writing, but also by his personal example. “I am pushed to confront the question of whether or not my relationship with the Lord Jesus is cold and formal or warm and life-giving. Pope Francis urges me to consider if I am allowing the Lord to change and transform me from within, such that I will come to the point of loving what He, the Lord, loves, and disdaining what He disdains. Pope Francis challenges me, as does the whole weight of scripture and tradition, to die to myself; to crucify whatever in me is contrary to the Gospel; to take up my cross to follow in the footsteps of the Savior.”
When Archbishop Lori reads St. Paul and his ministry, he realizes the life of faith is not simply a matter of knowing about Christ or trying to follow Christ’s example, as important as those things are. He learned from St. Paul that, “It is a matter of having Christ formed in us so that His words, His truth, His love is not something that we merely put on, but rather it is something that emerges from the deepest recesses of our soul, where only the Holy Spirit can penetrate… Have we opened our hearts to Christ? What barriers do we put up? Do we believe that He loves us and has given His life for us? And is His presence truly the central reality in my life, the most important relationship?”
He praised everyone for attending the ChristLife National Conference because it demonstrated they understand that authentic renewal of the Church’s life can only be had when we penetrate more deeply into the life of Christ. He emphasized that, “When a critical mass of parishioners discover Christ and become convinced that He offers a love unlike any other love, and they come to a faith that is deeply personal, but not private, then evangelization becomes more than a fancy five-syllable word. It becomes a reality.”
He ended by saying, “You are at this conference and a part of ChristLife because… you want to deepen your passion for the Lord... and rejoice in His saving love in the midst of the Church, bringing home with you… a renewed faith in Christ and a renewed courage born of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Christ, crucified and risen, ‘so that many will be added to the number of those who believe.’”