BALTIMORE (CNS) — Seeing the signs of the times through the lens of wisdom and hope is not only a professional requirement for Catholic journalists, but also a deeply personal matter, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore told Catholic Media Conference attendees watching a livestreamed Mass from Baltimore’s Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
In his homily for CMC’s annual memorial Mass June 9, the archbishop reflected on the theme for the conference, “Anchored in Hope.”
He selected a reading for the Mass from the Letter to the Hebrews in which St. Paul referred to Jesus’ intercession for us: “This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior, behind the veil” (Heb 6:19).
The archbishop said, “In other words, even as we encounter, describe and seek to address life’s problems, already we are anchored firmly in heaven where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.
“Genuine hope gives us the wisdom and love ‘to read the signs of the times’ and to describe what we see and hear, not through the lens of ideology, partisan politics or personal animosity — but rather through the clear and truthful vision that faith affords us,” he said.
Without this “anchor of the soul,” we can easily become so awash in controversy that we are swept away, Archbishop Lori added.
Baltimore was to have been the host for the 2021 CMC. Although the convention was moved to a primarily virtual format, the annual memorial Mass — a longtime tradition in which members of the association who have died in the past year are remembered — was livestreamed from the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen during the parish’s regular daily evening Mass.
In addition to cathedral parishioners, some CMA members from the region attended, including Greg Erlandson of Catholic News Service and Matthew Gambino of CatholicPhilly.com, who presented the offertory gifts.
In the homily, Archbishop Lori acknowledged some of the many ways the pandemic had disrupted people’s lives and changed forever the way we work.
He said that even before the pandemic he had been encouraging parishes to increase their engagement on websites and in social media and installing equipment to livestream Masses.
He also urged parishes and parishioners to switch from paper envelopes to electronic giving. Not all parishes were on board with such measures, but once the pandemic hit, “almost everyone sees the need for these things. Tragic as it was, the pandemic brought about change, more quickly than usual,” he said.
He also noted that in his role as publisher of Catholic Review Media, Baltimore’s archdiocesan publishing arm, he was aware that Catholic media professionals face similar challenges.
He cited the Catholic Review’s transformation into magazine format several years ago, even as the staff continued to produce relevant digital content and “expanded and deepened the presence of this local church on social media.”
“All this they are doing amid the many challenges the church is facing, whether it is the cloud of scandal that continues to hang over the church, or the deep polarization of society or societal debates about what constitutes news,” he said.
“Amid the din, it can be hard to get people’s attention, even that of the people of God,” he added. “I know that all of you are deeply engaged in addressing these challenges, and while approaches, strategies and resources may differ, you and I, amid the shifting sands of culture and technology, are ‘anchored in hope’ as we seek to share the good news of redemption with as many people as possible.”
Continuing his reflection on the theme, the archbishop said: “It may still be axiomatic that ‘bad news sells more papers and brings higher ratings’ — but if we are anchored in hope, we will not see it quite that way. Without blinding us to the problems and divisions that exist, hope opens our eyes to the good that is going on all around us: works of mercy, evangelization, education, charity and so much more.”
He said that such works are being carried out not by faceless bureaucracies but by missionary disciples who bear witness to the Lord by their deeds.
“Thank you for telling their stories, for introducing us to heroic fellow Catholics, for helping Catholics and many others not to be jaded or cynical, but rather to be hopeful, convinced that despite our weakness, the Risen Lord has indeed ‘overcome the world,'” Archbishop Lori said.
Acknowledging those to be remembered at the memorial Mass in the universal prayer, he said: “Today we also remember your colleagues who have spent their professional lives conveying the good news and sharing news about the church in a spirit of charity and transparency. We thank God for their talent, their generosity and their unstinting labors even as we pray that they will see in full reality what they saw partially by faith, but reported upon with honesty and goodness and charity.
“May their example of fidelity further anchor our lives, both personal and professional, in ‘the Lord of all hopefulness, the Lord of all joy,'” the archbishop said.