By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz opened his homily at the annual Chrism Mass March 22 by offering prayers for victims of a terror attack in Brussels earlier in the day.
“Of course, the terror of the Crucifixion is overcome by the hope of the Resurrection,” the archbishop noted, relating a statement he made as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Through unity, courage and comforting of the victims, the people of Belgium remind me of the Apostles comforted by the Risen Lord. In the face of unspeakable violence, they refused to allow fear to be their final witness.”
“God so loved the world that he sent his only son. Seeing our violent rejection of that love, God could have easily withdrawn from the world,” he said. “Instead, Jesus overcame death to offer us salvation. So too let us respond to hate with love and reject the extremists who would see us abandon our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”
At least 31 people were killed in the attacks on an airport and an underground train in Brussels, Belgium’s capital. Hundreds more were wounded. The Islamic State terrorist organization claimed responsibility.
The overall mood of the Chrism Mass, celebrated at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville, remained joyful, as priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville renewed their priestly vows and the archbishop blessed and consecrated special oils that are used in baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and other sacraments and occasions throughout the liturgical year.
Archbishop Kurtz told the congregation during his homily that the body of the faithful, and those gathered at the liturgy, are a family.
“Every time you are faithful to one another in difficult times, it is the Lord Jesus acting through you,” he said.
Noting that the faithful will renew their baptismal promises on Easter, he said, “It’s a grace for us to recall, this promise is only possible through Jesus Christ. Through God’s grace, great things can happen.”
Looking out over the Cathedral’s seats, which were nearly full, the archbishop said, “It’s almost a litany to think of all the people you represent in the church.”
The congregation included many of the archdiocese’s priests and those in religious orders, lay people from parishes around the archdiocese, staff members of the archdiocese’s offices and some of the 464 people who are entering the church this spring.
The archbishop also noted some of the ways “God’s grace has come alive in the Archdiocese of Louisville” in the last year.
He noted annual conferences for men and women, which attracted a total of more than 1,200 Catholics; the Catholic Education Foundation’s recent successes to boost tuition assistance; the Catholic Services appeal, which raised a record amount of more than $3.5 million.