Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and University Chancellor
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Great Upper Church
Sept. 3, 2020

Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory delivering homily

“I will put my spirit within you – Live by the Spirit – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”  Each one of our three readings at Mass today point to the truth that God’s Spirit seeks a personal relationship with us. God’s Spirit does His very best work within the human person. The Spirit is no remote presence when He is about the tasks that He was sent to realize in our lives. When we pray asking for the Holy Spirit to attend to our needs during this new academic year, we are seeking His active presence throughout the entire school year. We beseech the Holy Spirit not merely to guide us productively through demanding examinations, the successful authoring of course papers, and the effective understanding new lessons; we are seeking His warmth and presence in our lives each moment of everyday in this new school year.  We ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts.

This year, in a special way, we beseech the Holy Spirit to allow us to work for justice and harmony within our nation, among diverse peoples, specifically on this particular campus of higher learning. We humbly admit that the tasks that lie ahead are beyond our personal skills and talents. Like those frightened disciples in the upper room, we will not have the courage to proclaim the truth of the Gospel without the Spirit’s fire and wisdom. Ours, this academic year is a special request for the graces that only God’s Spirit can supply in bringing harmony and justice to our country and into each heart.

For in truth, the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to engulf our entire lives and not simply to help us get through the rigors of academe. When we summon the Holy Spirit into our lives, He comes with full force to help us weather all of the challenges that we might face, whether in the classroom, on a ZOOM lecture, or in whatever situation we might find ourselves. The Holy Spirit invades our lives with His grace and power – from that first Pentecost outpouring, we know that He is not deterred by locked doors or even locked and frightened hearts.

This year, the Mass of the Holy Spirit certainly must focus our humble petitions on more than the fruitful and successful and positive academic accomplishments, but also on the broader national healing, reconciliation and peace that we clearly all need at this time.  We pray this day for the mending of relationships across racial, ethnic, and religious differences so that the world that our university students, administrators and faculty will encounter tomorrow will be a place of justice and integrity for all people.  The Holy Spirit has it within His power and authority to achieve that goal in response to our prayers this morning.  May He accomplish both our growth in wisdom and grace and the restoration of equity and justice for all men and women everywhere. Amen.