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What Good Does Adoration Do?

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Father James Boric, the rector of America’s first cathedral, the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, joins us to explain why he chose Eucharistic adoration as a cornerstone of his parish-building efforts. It turns out there is a lot of power in sitting quietly with Jesus.


Cy Kellett:

Why bother with adoration? Father James Boric is next. Hello and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and right in the heart of Baltimore is America’s oldest cathedral. Oh, well, we’ll explain. There’s some technicalities about that, but let’s say America’s oldest cathedral, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it’s got a new pastor. He’s been there for a few years, and his mission is to revitalize that parish, to make it a living parish, not just a shrine, but a living parish right there in the heart of Baltimore.

Cy Kellett:

At the heart of what a Father James Boric is doing as the Rector of the cathedral is a program of increased adoration of the blessed sacrament, to build the spiritual life of the parish and also to do good, to bring good, to unleash the goodness of that relationship with Jesus in individuals’ lives and in a cosmic sense, even. You don’t believe me? Well, here’s what Father James Boric has to say. Father James Boric, thank you very much for being with us.

Father James Boric:

Well, thanks for having me.

Cy Kellett:

So you are the Rector and I want to ask you about what you’re the Rector of. Is it the Baltimore Basilica? Is it the Basilica of the Assumption? Or is it the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary? What do we call it?

Father James Boric:

So the last one is the technical name. I call it the Basilica of the Assumption.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. All right. And you’ve been Rector there since 2017.

Father James Boric:

Yep.

Cy Kellett:

And before we ask you about eucharistic adoration, because as we come now to the beginning of our Lenten pilgrimage, I’ll just confess to you right up front, eucharistic adoration, the discovery of it was life transforming for me and I think it has been for many people in many parishes. So I hope that people will feel encouraged with our conversation today to undertake eucharistic adoration, but I got to ask you about the basilica before we do all that, because I’m curious. So it’s the oldest Catholic cathedral in America.

Father James Boric:

It’s the first Catholic cathedral in America. And so people will get on us because there are older cathedrals, but they weren’t part of the United States when they were constructed. So this was the first Catholic cathedral. So for instance, in new Orleans, they have an older cathedral, but it wasn’t part of the United States at that time. So this is the first Catholic cathedral ever built in the United States under the leadership of the first Archbishop of the United States, John Carroll, and actually was finished by the third Archbishop of Baltimore, Ambrose Maréchal, and was dedicated on May 31st, 1821. So, we’re just a couple of months away from our 200th anniversary.

Cy Kellett:

And you have people like Cardinal Carroll interred at the Basilica, right?

Father James Boric:

Yeah. So, Archbishop Carroll is there, we have-

Cy Kellett:

Archbishop Carroll.

Father James Boric:

Cardinal Gibbons [crosstalk 00:03:07] but so yeah, there’s many, right in our crypt, which is really a cool part.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Think about Cardinal Gibbons, just one of the great voices in the history of the American Republic, really. I mean, and Cardinal Carroll. Baltimore, the original place where Catholics kind of went in the 13 original colonies, not when you think about, as you said about the expanded America, but in the 13 original colonies Baltimore would have been the most Catholic place.

Father James Boric:

Well, there was only one … when this place was established as a diocese and archdiocese, it was it. It encompassed the entire country at that point. That was the only archdiocese there was. So it really was the center. In fact, Cardinal Gibbons said that, what St Peter’s is to the universal church, this Basilica was to the church in America. And it’s really where the catechism, the Baltimore catechism and everything that came to be, and all the diocese, they were all decided in this place. It’s really crazy.

Cy Kellett:

So it’s really, it must be a tremendous honor for you to be the Rector of that place. I mean, it’s America’s kind of founding cathedral. As you said, I mean, the history of the country is strange. We have St. Augusta in Florida, which is this old city, but as far as this country goes, expanding out across the continent, this is the founding kind of Catholic place. It must be a great honor to be the Rector of it.

Father James Boric:

It is, it is. I think of it as, almost in a way like the heart, which is sort of hidden because a lot of people don’t know even that this place exists, including in Baltimore, but there’s a spiritual significance to it that is both … I’m honored, but also I’m very respectful of the importance of what this place means to the United States of America.

Cy Kellett:

And it’s a functioning parish?

Father James Boric:

It is a functioning parish. That was really one of the reasons that when I came here, the Archbishop said, “I don’t want this to be a shrine. I don’t want this just to be thinking of the past, but I actually want you … there’s a lot of young adults around this part of the city. I want you to make this into a parish and really evangelize, not just by talking about evangelization, but actually getting out there on the streets even and bringing people in and making it into a parish.” So we’re four years into the project and it’s really going well.

Cy Kellett:

And that brings us to why we’re talking with you about Eucharistic adoration, because you have instituted adoration there. Can you tell us about what adoration looks like at the Baltimore Basilica or the Basilica of the Assumption? and then why, why did you, why is that a part of your kind of growing this as a parish place?

Father James Boric:

So let me answer that, the second part first, which is the why. And that is because the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the God of the universe. And you probably know, Baltimore doesn’t usually make the news for a lot of good things. So statistically per capita, we are the second highest murder capital in the country right now. And it’s awful. And there’s 8 million ideas about what’s going to change. Things aren’t changing. So it’s clear, if you want to change something, the why is you’ve got to bring Christ into it. And so, to me, it’s an obvious thing to do that.

Father James Boric:

We need to have Jesus Christ at the heart of our diocese, at the heart of our city, at the heart of our country. So that’s the why. And I know that I have nothing to really offer people, but Jesus can change everything. So the idea is if we can just get people in front of him to experience him, then everything can change. And so that’s really the why.

Cy Kellett:

So in a practical way, say I was in your neighborhood and I heard that you had this adoration, how would I participate? Is it certain hours during the day? How does it work?

Father James Boric:

So right now we have adoration in the evenings, but May 31st, as I said, is our 200 anniversary. So right now we have an adoration chapel in the undercroft of our facility that’s being constructed. And the idea is that on May 31st, the Archbishop of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori is going to celebrate our 200th anniversary mass. Then we’re going to process down to the new Adoration chapel. We’re going to dedicate it on the same day, 200 years after our Basilica was dedicated, we’ll have solemn exposition, and then perpetual Eucharistic adoration will begin.

Father James Boric:

And that’ll be the first time, by the way, in the history of the city of Baltimore that there will ever be perpetual adoration. So at that point you can sign up and, have an hour, or you’ll have access to the blessed sacrament at any time. But right now we just have it on the evenings.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. So I want to connect this with the conditions that you talked about in the city of Baltimore, because I do think there’s always the criticism that we Catholics will face, and I’d like you to address it, about there’s other things you could do for the city of Baltimore, Father. Why all this, I mean, does adoration even do anything?

Father James Boric:

Yeah, so first of all, I get that all the time, even from very, very, well-meaning very faithful Catholics. And especially with all the social unrest. I give a homily about prayer and they’re like, “Father, are you serious? That’s all you’ve got?” And it’s not all I’ve got, but do we believe that God is God? And do we believe that Jesus Christ can do anything? It can change hearts. Nothing is going to change until hearts are changed. And once a heart is conformed to Christ, and I mean truly conformed. I don’t just mean saying prayers, but once a heart is conformed to Jesus Christ, you’re not going to be a racist, right? You can’t be. Once a heart is conformed with Jesus Christ, you’re not going to be anything but a good husband or a good wife or a good priest.

Father James Boric:

So the real work has to happen at the level of the heart. And what is adoration? It’s nothing more than a heart to heart conversation with the God of the universe. So when I go to adoration, I’m going there to be converted. And once I’m converted, I’m going to give my people something different. Well, once the people of Baltimore have their hearts converted and changed, then they realize of divine love and who they are, that’s going to have an impact at the level of the family, at the level of any relationship and eventually at the level of the city. And I’d like to just give you two sort of concrete examples.

Cy Kellett:

Please.

Father James Boric:

So one is a famous one that we probably all heard about in Catholic media, then one is something that I’ve experienced. So the sort of the famous one is what happened in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez. This city, which is if not the most dangerous city in the world from like 2010 to 2015, with the drugs and the gangs and the violence over 3,700 murders a year. And then Father Heilman comes in with a couple of missionaries and decides in 2013, we’re going to set up perpetual Eucharistic adoration in the most dangerous city in the country.

Father James Boric:

And within two years, the number of murders goes from about 3,700 to 256, which is still not obviously, you don’t want anybody to die, but to have that kind of a transformation. And granted, there are other things that happening, right? There’s things that are happening that are helping that, but I’ve experienced that in Baltimore. The first year I got here, the one of the first things I did was a rosary congress, one week of perpetual Eucharistic adoration where we pray the rosary every hour on the hour and we have special talks and masses, but you have perpetual iteration for one week.

Father James Boric:

The number of murders in Baltimore that one week decreased by about 60%. And most of the days of that Congress, there were no murders. Now, this past year, I do it every year, this past Congress, which happened in October, always around our lady of the rosary. We had one day in particular that was set aside for the people of Baltimore to come together, to pray for no violence and murders, for an end. For that day, which we had that there was zero murders in Baltimore city. So I know it’s a small statistical analysis and sample, but I absolutely believe and I have seen, and I know that if we just bring Jesus here all the time, all right, imagine what’s going to happen.

Cy Kellett:

I’m so impressed with what you just said because this is the thing that even, I think very faithful Catholics can get into is the me and Jesus relationship, and we forget that there’s a social power too. And it’s not the primary thing. We’re not just social reformers. I’m not saying that, Father, but there’s a social power to closeness with God. If, one by one, we will come close to God that has tremendous social power.

Father James Boric:

Without a doubt. I mean, just think about it at the level of the family. If you have a husband and a wife who know the love of God and they’re conforming their lives, they have that conversion. They’re conforming their life. Their whole family is going to change, and that’s going to have generations of impact on the city, on wherever they live. So it’s huge.

Cy Kellett:

So this is no accident that in your coming to the America’s heart church that you’ve decided that to build that into a parish community adoration had to be part of that.

Father James Boric:

Yeah, it was a no-brainer to me. And obviously I needed the support of Archbishop Lori, and he fully supports this. So it’s just been a no brainer, but this is the fourth year. I’m almost here for four years now. So it’s been a culture change, and I’ve had to slowly introduce this and then build it up because people don’t understand. And what do you do in adoration? So, it’s been four years of preparation for this.

Cy Kellett:

Well, there’s my next question. What do you do in adoration? Because I think a lot of people would say, if there’s something that can change my heart and bring me into this intimate contact with Jesus, I’d like it, how does that happen during adoration? And what am I supposed to do to get that to happen?

Father James Boric:

So I think that people oftentimes can make it very hard and try to be formulaic or sort of rigid and I have to do this, but at the end of the day, it’s wasting time with your best friends. And it’s literally having a heart-to-heart conversation. I mean, I will bend our Lord’s ear all the time. And, but then there’s also that important aspect of just then listening, and Jesus doesn’t, to me anyway, I don’t hear his voice. Like, I don’t hear him saying, “Father James, here’s what I want you to do,” but you get inspirations in adoration, like you feel inspired to do something or you feel inspired to get to know [inaudible 00:13:54] better or whatever it might be. So he inspires us in the silence, but one of the things that we need to do is we need to have that silence, and just to relax. To be with, realize that Jesus, the God of the universe wants to spend time with me, wants to spend time with you.

Father James Boric:

And all we have to do is put in our calendar meeting with Jesus today. And we should look forward to that like nothing else, like no matter what’s happening in my day, I’ve got a meeting, a one-on-one meeting with the God of the universe who wants to meet with me, and I can just tell him everything. And I think that that’s a good way of looking at the Holy Hour, or even to read sacred scripture.

Father James Boric:

If you had an hour, what if you spent about a half an hour reading the gospel and seeing what does Jesus say and what does he do and what motivated him? How did he act? And then taking the next half an hour and saying, “All right, how can I be like that? What do I need to change? What do I need to do?” So we can be so inspired. Just the word is Christ, then he’s right there in front of us sacramentally in the Eucharist. And you know, it’s just a powerful experience. We just get to be with him.

Cy Kellett:

And have you had any experience of non-Catholics coming? Do non-Catholics ever come? Have they taken you up on your invitation?

Father James Boric:

So I’ll give you one example. Yeah, we do have non-Catholics coming in. I’ll give you one example. This is at the mass, but it still has to do with the Eucharist. A woman came and she came because of the beauty of the Basilica and she came to mass, and sometimes people come up to receive Holy communion and you can tell that they don’t know what to do. So what I’ll often do is I’ll just ask them really quietly, “Are you Catholic?” And if they say no, then I’ll give them a blessing. Then afterwards I can explain. Well, when I did that to this woman, she realized … sometimes you worry, “Are they going to get mad at me?”

Father James Boric:

Well, she realized that, why wouldn’t he give it to me? It must be something sacred. It must be so special that I have to understand something before I can receive it. And she became Catholic because of the sacredness of the Eucharist, and then has experienced so much adoration. So why other people who are coming from the neighborhood who experienced the peace, and they can’t explain it, but there’s something … there’s the peace that they experience. Then that’s the hook that brings them in. But it’s different, of course, for every person.

Cy Kellett:

It does seem, you mentioned that there are young professionals around and that particularly among the young. They’re now, like I have children in their twenties and you’re realizing these people are coming into their adulthood, my children and their friends. And they knew how to use computers at four years old and they have grown up on screens. And it seems to me for that group, Eucharistic adoration, it’s almost like … it’s vital in a way, that you have to get somehow the heart connected to reality and you can’t do that looking at a screen. So has that been your experience with young people that they find it kind of a relief to sit quietly for a while?

Father James Boric:

Absolutely. And the bulk of the people coming right now for adoration are young professionals, young doctors. I have young lawyers, engineers, lots of grad students, nurses, and the biggest role so far has been that age group. And they get to experience peace. It’s just as you said, it’s a time, it’s like a little retreat for an hour, from all the craziness and for the anxiety. The anxiety, because of all being connected all the time, is tremendous in the young adult world. So for whatever time they get to spend in front of our Lord, it’s like a detox and just a reality check.

Cy Kellett:

And some people, Father, are going to hear that and go, “I couldn’t do an hour.” I feel like their attention span or just their ability to sit. They’re going to be, “I can’t, Father, I can’t do it.” I almost feel like you’re talking to people out of coming when you say an hour.

Father James Boric:

Well come for 15 minutes, come for 15 minutes. Just start off with 15 minutes, and maybe read like one chapter of the gospel and then just sit with it for a few minutes and start there. No, I mean, by no means you have to start with an hour.

Cy Kellett:

Okay. So before we go, Father, then I, because we are about to embark on the Lenten season, I do think it’s like a Catholic tradition. You got to spend the weeks before Lent going, “What am I going to do for Lent?” Thinking, “What am I going to do for Lent?” All right. So somebody hears us and says, “I’d like to try this Eucharistic adoration.” Will you just give us a kind of a practical how to, to give this experience of adoring the Lord in the sacrament, how to give that a try?

Father James Boric:

I would say this, I would say write down on a piece of paper all of your questions for God. I mean, everything you want to know, and get yourself a nice Catholic Bible and just go before him and ask, talk to him. What are the things that you’ve always wanted to understand? What are the things that you want to change, but you don’t know how. What do you need in your family to be a better husband or a better wife or a better daughter or son? Have something that you’re going to the Lord for and ask him and just try it and then sit. Maybe if you don’t know what to do, sit with the scriptures for a little bit and just have at least five minutes of silence.

Father James Boric:

But what I find is that when we come prepared to talk to God, and also when we come prepared to listen to him, it’s amazing what happens. But if we just go out of discipline or, “I’ve got to do this,” it’s like, we don’t want to be there, we’re not open, but just go with what you want and ask the God of the universe. And you can tell him, “Lord, I’m not even sure that I believe that’s you.” Just be real with God, be real with him and just see what happens.

Cy Kellett:

Father, congratulations on the growing parish there at the Baltimore Basilica, the Basilica of the Assumption, also called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is I’m going to use that title from now on. So how can people find out more about what you’re doing? Say people want to look into the … maybe they want to visit. And by the way, you should visit. The guy that designed it, by the way, he designed the US Capitol, right? [inaudible 00:20:32]

Father James Boric:

Yeah, the [inaudible 00:20:32]. Yeah.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Father James Boric:

It’s phenomenal. It’s an architectural wonder.

Cy Kellett:

So how can people connect with you?

Father James Boric:

So go to, our website is probably the best Americasfirstcathedral.org. It’s Americasfirstcathedral.org. And we also have an apostolate called source of all hope. So you can get to us either way, Americasfirstcathedral.org or a sourceofallhope.org, and both will lead you to us.

Cy Kellett:

Father James Boric, the Rector of the Baltimore Basilica, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I’m so grateful that you … particularly, I don’t know why I feel fired up now to … more adoration when you talk about the visible results of it. I get maybe that’s … I’m a shallow person. Maybe that’s shallow, but I’m so grateful you took the time with us.

Father James Boric:

No, I appreciate it very much. And if everybody would just say a prayer for our perpetual adoration, that’d be great.

Cy Kellett:

And may we have your blessing before we go, Father?

Father James Boric:

Sure. The Lord be with you.

Cy Kellett:

And with your spirit.

Father James Boric:

May almighty God bless you. The Father, and the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Cy Kellett:

Amen. Find out all about America’s first cathedral, Father James Boric, thanks.

Father James Boric:

Thanks a lot, Cy. God bless you.

Cy Kellett:

I don’t know what your time schedule is like, but as we get into Lent, maybe one of the things that you might devote yourself to as part of your Lenten practice and as part of the great desire that we all have to grow closer to the Lord is some Eucharistic adoration. Can you carve out 15 minutes a week, maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour? Maybe you could go a couple times a week. I can testify from my own life, and I’ve just heard so many people testify as Father James Boric just did about his own parish, right in the heart of Baltimore. It makes all the difference in the world. There is something about adoration that changes the heart, and there’s very, very little in this world that seems to change our hearts, but Jesus and the Eucharist can, so be encouraged. Maybe give it a try, if you haven’t given it a try.

Cy Kellett:

You can always email us, [email protected] is our email address. [email protected] We’d love to hear from you. We’ve been getting a lot of great suggestions for upcoming episodes, so thank you for that. If you get us on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, maybe subscribe there so that you get updated every time. And if you could, give us that five star review, maybe a comment. That really helps to grow the podcast. You know what else helps grow the podcast? If you’re watching on YouTube, just like and subscribe. I think it’s right down there. Or maybe it’s … I actually don’t know where it is on YouTube. Just like and subscribe. It really helps us a lot. We’d also appreciate your financial support. Givecatholic.com is the place to give, if you’re willing to support us financially. Givecatholic.com. And leave us a little note to say why, that makes all the difference for us. Again, I’m Cy Kellett, your host. We’ll do this again next time right here, God willing, on Catholic Answers Focus.

 

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