The Vatican’s official English-language translation of Pope Francis’ prepared homily, to be delivered in Italian, during Christmas Eve Mass

christbaby

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”(Is 9:1).

This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas Night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.

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What to do when your parish priest comes down with Kerygma

BishopSheen

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
was know to be a frequent “sufferer” 

The Sunday homily as an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word, can only be renewed and energized by the Holy Spirit.

Kerygma or the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery should lead to metanoia 5, a progressive (or radical) conversion of the heart to the Gospel. But, it is the Holy Spirit who is the great “Converter” waiting to be “stirred up” or “fanned into flame” 6 in the hearts of the faithful, through the preaching of Christ crucified.

As Pope Paul VI said in his very powerful apostolic exhortation “On Evangelisation”: “…the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization. It is he who inspires each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is he who causes the word of salvation to be understood and accepted.

It was not by chance that the inauguration of evangelization took place on the morning of Pentecost under the inspiration of the Spirit”. 7 It is noteworthy that the greatest aspect of the renewal of the Eucharistic Liturgy that Vatican II has brought is the introduction of the epiclesis, 8 right before the words of consecration of the bread and wine.

That is why preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit is essential. Hopefully, this kerygmatic preaching will elicit conversion which in turn awakens the desire in the believer for a deeper knowledge and understanding of the faith, which is catechesis.

However, what is sorely needed in our parishes, before faith formation or catechesis, which is, in itself, very important, is boldness in the kerygma, the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen.

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The (free on-line) Archbishop Sheen Audio Library

Archbishop Sartain’s full homily to the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) on the feast of the Assumption.

Full text of Archbishop Sartain’s homily

Editor’s note – A relevant excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1558 “Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant).”37 “By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors.”38

1559 “One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.”39 The character and collegial nature of the episcopal order are evidenced among other ways by the Church’s ancient practice which calls for several bishops to participate in the consecration of a new bishop.40 In our day, the lawful ordination of a bishop requires a special intervention of the Bishop of Rome, because he is the supreme visible bond of the communion of the particular Churches in the one Church and the guarantor of their freedom.

1560 As Christ’s vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches: “Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church.”41

1561 The above considerations explain why the Eucharist celebrated by the bishop has a quite special significance as an expression of the Church gathered around the altar, with the one who represents Christ, the Good Shepherd and Head of his Church, presiding.42

Read Amarillo Bishop Zurek’s homily from a recent Respect Life Sunday

Today, the rate of abortion is the lowest since Roe vs. Wade became a Law.  Fifty percent of Americans state they are Pro-Life.  But abortions still occur; so the Church cries out in lamentation and even anger at what man perpetrates.  Holy Church justifiably cries out her fury like the mama bear that sees her cubs threatened.  But we do no harm!  We “Christians are the conscience of our society.”  (Diognetis, 3rd  C.)  Therefore we “proclaim the sacredness of human life.”   We work and pray hard for a “Culture of Life.”  We return a blessing, not a curse, to those twisted with a Pro Choice mentality and philosophy.  We commit to pray for them.  We tell them we WILL PRAY  for them!

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Editor’s note: Occasional homilies aside, Bishop Zurek’s pro-life credentials appear to be virtually non-existent.

Read the Pope’s World Youth Day 2011 Homily

FINAL MASS

WORDS OF THE HOLY FATHER
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

Cuatro Vientos Air Base, Madrid
Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dear Young Friends:

I have been thinking a lot about you during this time in which we have been separated.  I hope you have been able to get some sleep in spite of the weather.  I am sure that since dawn you have raised up your eyes more than once, and not only your eyes but above all your hearts, turning this occasion into prayer.  God turns all things into good.  With this confidence and trusting in the Lord who never abandons us, let us begin our Eucharistic celebration, full of enthusiasm and strong in our faith.

***

HOMILY

 Dear Young People,

In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day.  Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy.  I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you.  Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15).  He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father.  For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received.  Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better.  They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns.  But who is he really?  How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?

The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ.  The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion.  When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”.  In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him.  Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”.  Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.

Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”.  Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life.  Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation.  So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard.  Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected.

And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus.   Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.

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Some very important things that Jesus Christ never said or taught

From: The Church or the Bible by Fr. Arnold Damen, S.J. (1815-1890)

Christ did not say,
“Sit down and write Bibles and scatter them over the earth, and let every man read his Bible and judge for himself.”

If Christ had said that, there would never have been a Christianity on the earth at all, but a Babylon and confusion instead, and never one Church, the union of one body.

Hence, Christ never said to His Apostles,
“Go and write Bibles and distribute them, and let everyone judge for himself.”

That injunction was reserved for the Sixteenth Century, and we have seen the result of it. Ever since the Sixteenth Century there have been springing up religion upon religion, and churches upon churches, all fighting and quarreling with one another. And all because of the private interpretation of the Bible.

Christ sent His Apostles with authority to teach all nations, and never gave them any command of writing the Bible. And the Apostles went forth and preached everywhere, and planted the Church of God throughout the earth, but never thought of writing.

The first word written was by Saint Matthew, and he wrote for the benefit of a few individuals. He wrote the Gospel about seven years after Christ left this earth, so that the Church of God, established by Christ, existed seven years before a line was written of the New Testament. Saint Mark wrote about ten years after Christ left this earth; Saint Luke about twenty-five years, and Saint John about sixty-three years after Christ had established the Church of God. Saint John wrote the last portion of the Bible — the Book of Revelation — about sixty-five years after Christ had left this earth and the Church of God had been established.

The Catholic religion had existed sixty-five years before the Bible was completed, before it was written.

Now, I ask you, my dearly beloved separated brethren, were these Christian people, who lived during the period between the establishment of the Church of Jesus and the finishing of the Bible, were they really Christians, good Christians, enlightened Christians? Did they know the religion of Jesus?

Where is the man that will dare to say that those who lived from the time that Christ went up to Heaven to the time that the Bible was completed were not Christians?

It is admitted on all sides, by all denominations, that they were the very best of Christians, the first fruit of the Blood of Jesus Christ. But how did they know what they had to do to save their souls? Was it from the Bible that they learned it? No, because the Bible was not written.

Would our Divine Savior have left His Church for sixty-five years without a teacher, if the Bible is the teacher of man? Most assuredly not.

Were the Apostles Christians, I ask you, my dear Protestant friends? You say, “Yes, sir; they were the very founders of Christianity.”

Now, my dear friends, none of the Apostles
ever read the Bible;
not one of them except perhaps, Saint John. For all of them had died martyrs for the Faith of Jesus Christ and never saw the cover of a Bible. Every one of them died martyrs and heroes for the Church of Jesus before the Bible was completed.

How, then, did those Christians that lived in the first sixty-five years after Christ ascended — how did they know what they had to do to save their souls?

They knew it precisely in the same way that you know it, my dear Catholic friends. You know it from the teachings of the Church of God, and so did the primitive Christians know it.

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What the Catholic Church teaches about the Bible

Pope’s Saturday Homily for Nascent Human Life Vigil


Dear brothers and sisters,

With this evening’s celebration, the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new liturgical year beginning with its first stage: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and – in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary – expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

While our hearts reach out towards the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the Church’s liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord in the splendour of glory. This is why we, in every Eucharist, “announce his death, proclaim his resurrection until he comes again” we hold vigil in prayer. The liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole Bible concludes, the last page of the Revelation of Saint John: “Come, Lord Jesus “(22:20).

Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

Man has an unmistakable originality compared to all other living beings that inhabit the earth. He presents himself as a unique and singular entity, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. This is also suggested in the text of the First letter to the Thessalonians which was just proclaimed: “May the God of peace himself – St. Paul writes – make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ “(5:23). Therefore, we are spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limits of our material condition, at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome Him in us. We operate in earthly realities and through them we can perceive the presence of God and seek Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and we long for total fulfilment.

God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction, He calls us to friendship with him, He makes us part of a reality beyond all imagination, thought and word; His own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we acknowledge the value of the incomparable dignity of every human person and the great responsibility we have toward all. ” Christ, the final Adam, – says the Second Vatican Council – by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear…. by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. “(Gaudium et Spes, 22).

Believing in Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and reason show that the human being is a subject capable of discernment, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly things, that must be recognized in his innate value and always accepted with respect and love. He has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought. Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. In this vein we find the Church’s concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continually reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life: “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care ” (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ” he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.

Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: ” respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5). I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.

To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life . We do in the liturgy – which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us – worshiping the divine Eucharist, we contemplate Christ’s body, that body who took flesh from Mary by the Holy Spirit, and from her was born in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!

Homily in Memorial of Legion of Mary Founder, Frank Duff

Servant of God, Frank Duff

Homily given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on Nov. 20, at the 30th anniversary Mass in commemoration of the servant of God Frank Duff,  founder of the Legion of Mary:

Frank Duff died thirty years ago. This quiet, personally unassuming man, in quiet simple external circumstances in Dublin, on 7th September 1921 established a movement of prayer, Christian care and Marian spirituality. The Legion of Mary is a movement which has spread worldwide and has enriched the Church in many parts of the world, especially at moments in which the Church was experiencing difficulty and persecution.

We have come to thank God for the charism of Frank Duff: a charism recognized in a special way by the Second Vatican Council which he attended. We thank God for the spiritual enrichment that that charism has brought the Members of the Legion of Mary. We thank God for the Christian care and spiritual formation that millions have encountered through their contact with the Legion of Mary.

We remember especially the tenacity of this outwardly retiring man: tenacity in reaching out unashamedly to bring the message of Jesus to people in the varied circumstances of their livers, a tenacity driven not by human ambition but through a devotion to Mary who in every aspect of her life opened her heart to understand and to do the will of God.

The Church in Ireland is on a path of renewal. Renewal is an essential dimension of the Church’s life at any moment in history. The need for renewal of the Church in Ireland is however particularly urgent at this moment.

The scandals that have been revealed about aspects of the Church’s life have opened our eyes not just to the particular horrors of the abuse of children and of an inadequate response to them. They have opened our eyes to a much deeper crisis within the Church in Ireland.

Society in Ireland has changed. Religious culture in Ireland has changed. Religious practice has dropped at times in staggering proportions. There is disillusionment among many believers. Many have opted for or drifted into a more secularised vision of their life. Many have become indifferent and live as if God did not exist.

The significant role of the Church in serving Irish society, a role assumed in good faith and in a spirit of service which was undertaken with great dedication, is now being re-examined. What emerge are not just examples of evident failure and inadequacy alongside vision and commitment, but of a certain sense arrogance and power seeking, which has alienated many from the very message that such a presence in society was supposed to represent.

We face real crisis of vocations to the priesthood. Last Saturday here in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral I remembered at Mass 20 priests who had ministered in the Archdiocese and who had died in the previous twelve months. A further dozen or so priests retired from active ministry in the same period. And yet in the past year I ordained just one new priest for the diocese.

But the crisis of the Church is still a deeper one. It is not about the role of the Church in society. It is not about numbers. It is about the very nature of faith in Jesus Christ. It is about our understanding of the message of Jesus Christ. It is about faith in the God revealed in Jesus Christ and about the fundamental question: who is Jesus Christ?

We do not create our own identity for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to bring a message of love. But it was not a message just of being nice to each other. We have to ask: what is it that makes a Christian different in his or her interaction with others? What is it that should mark the Church of Jesus Christ as a people driven by the message of salvation revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus?

The Church will never be reformed from outside. Historically it must be recognized that the recent shattering revelations about abuse would probably never have come to full light without outside intervention. Renewal and reform of the Church, however, will only come from within the Church, that is from within a community of man and women who listen to the word of God, who come together to pray, who celebrate the Eucharist and are called to share in the very life of Christ himself. The Church is communion. That is not the same as saying the Church is a community, or an association or an institution. The Church is formed by the Word of God and is lived by men and women who allow that word of God to transform them.

The Church is communion. The theme of the forthcoming International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin in 2012 is: Communion with Christ and with one another. It is however the communion of Christ which determines the shape of communion we form with each other. It is not a network of social interaction which determines what our communion with Jesus Christ is or ultimately who Jesus Christ is. The Church is formed through our communion with Christ.

The Gospel we have heard is a complex one. It is an interesting insight into the friendship of Jesus with this family and their practical service to help him in his mission. Jesus on his mission was not just surrounded by the twelve Apostles. There were many who accompanied him on his missionary journeys, there were men and women who served him in different ways yet who together imbibed his teaching and his witness.

Lazarus and his Sisters were close to Jesus in friendship. Friendship with Jesus for us means friendship in his service through understanding his word. Each of us can join with him in his mission and living out in his mission in the great and small tasks of life. Frank Duff could never have been described in terms of what today would be called “a celebrity”. He shunned publicity. He shunned superficiality. Yet his work has spread to so many parts of the world and has affected so many lives through the fruits of constant bonds of friendship with the Lord.

Renewal of the Church is not about media strategies or structural reform. In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus clearly indicates in the figure of Mary that what is vital – and what can never be substituted by any other merits – is the willingness to know Jesus and to enter into true friendship with him. That means allowing his word to capture our hearts; it means having the same mind that was within Christ Jesus himself. It is about knowing the Father through encountering Jesus.

Renewal in the Church in Ireland will be painful renewal. Jesus message was not that anything goes. There is something radical about the commitment which Jesus requires of us. “Let the dead bury their dead”, is not a message of compromise

There are many indications that the Church in Ireland has lost its way. Let me be very clear: sadly many people, of various ages, no longer really know Jesus Christ. That is not to say that they are not good people, caring people. It is not to say that the Church is only for a holy elite: the Church is a Church of sinners; each of us has to repent day after day; each of us compromises and each of us lets Jesus down and betrays Jesus.

The Church is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not a vague moralizing agency in society. It is not there to provide some sort of spiritual comfort zone for all comers. The Eucharist and the sacraments are celebrations of faith in Jesus Christ within a Christian community. Allowing the sacramental life of the Church become some just sort of vague social celebrations is allowing the true identity of the Church to become distorted.

I am not saying the active members of the Church community have been authentic followers of Jesus Christ. The Church has indeed been betrayed by its own active members. In the face of such failure the Church has at times given the impression of wishing to be all-embracing and all-forgiving in a simplistic manner.

Where do we go on the path of renewal? Can we be happy to celebrate first communion services which put people into debt for thousands of Euro for empty external expenses, while neither the children nor their parents have been led to a true understanding of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic community which is the Church? Can we be satisfied when confirmation is looked on by many as a graduation out of Church life? In not addressing such issues we are not just deceiving ourselves but we are damaging the integrity of the message of Jesus.

The Church is not a holy elite. It is made up today as always by the humble of heart. Many people with little education have a deeper insight into the message of Jesus Christ than learned theologians or bishops. But in today’s society where the message of Jesus is less and less accessible, the Church must become a place where formation in the Word of God resounds in a way that it has not done so in the Irish Church for generations.


I would like to thank the Legion of Mary in the Archdiocese of Dublin for their generous participation in our diocesan project this year of making the word of God in the Gospel of Saint Luke available to families. I would like to thank the Legion of Mary nationwide for their renewed reflection on the Word of God and its application to daily life. I would like to thank you for your commitment to prayer and to the Eucharist where Jesus is present in our hearts.

I am very happy today to see such a large representation of priests present at our ceremony today. I would like to thank the priests who act as spiritual directors to the Legion of Mary and who provide formation for the spiritual life of the members, helping them day by day to rediscover and to recommit themselves top the charism of the movement. The Legion of Mary is fundamentally a lay movement but the place of the priestly ministry is aloe essential to it. I particularly wish to thank those priests who have so many demands on their time and yet who are so dedicate to the work with the Legion of Mary.

Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in 1921 at a critical moment in Irish history. It was a time of political uncertainty which eventually would explode into civil war. It was a time in which this city was marked by very harsh poverty and also of widespread moral impoverishment. Frank Duff was a man who in the face of a major social challenge did something. He did not write a Letter to the Editor. He gathered like-minded men and women around him into a movement of spiritual renewal, prayer and Christian service. He was not discouraged either by the size of the challenge or by the paucity of his means. He was a man of the Church – misunderstood by many in the Church, including Archbishops of Dublin. Like Mary, his model, he never flinched. Frank Duff pondered the Word of God day by day and through him then the Lord worked great things.

HOMILY: By Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, November 20, 2010

On November 22, the Monday after the consistory of November 20-21 to create 24 new cardinals, Cardinal Raymond Burke delivered the following homily during his first Mass as a cardinal.

HOMILY

By Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.

Saint Cecilia whose memory we celebrate today was a wise virgin who carefully provided oil for her lamp, so that when her Lord came, He found her waiting and ready to meet Him with her lamp burning brightly. We know little about her life, but, from tradition, we know the essence of her heroic holiness. She was a young Roman maiden, who was raised in the Christian faith.

She, in fact, developed so strongly in her love of our Lord, through prayer and penance, that she resolved to offer her virginity to Our Lord as a perpetual gift, that is, to espouse our Lord alone as her Bridegroom for ever. Contrary to her resolve, her father insisted that she marry a certain pagan by the name of Valerian, but, on the day of her wedding, we are told that “amid the music and rejoicing of the guests, Cecilia sat apart, singing to God in her heart and praying for help in her predicament.”[1]

One imagines that she was praying the words of the Psalms according to the ancient chant of the Church, which developed organically from the chant used in Jewish worship and continues today to be singularly suited to the raising of our minds and hearts to the Lord.

The Lord heard her prayer, made even more pure and beautiful because it was offered to Him in sacred song. Through the help of an angel, her new husband was converted to the faith and received Baptism at the hands of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Urban. Having come to life in Christ through Baptism, Valerian fully respected Cecilia’s virginal consecration. With Saint Cecilia, he rapidly grew in pure and selfless love, and soon gave, with her, the supreme witness of total and faithful love of our Lord by accepting a cruel martyrdom for the faith.

In the life of Saint Cecilia, we see fulfilled, in a most striking manner, the promise of our Lord’s immeasurable and ceaseless love of all men, without exception, the divine love which we celebrate most fully and perfectly in this Eucharistic Sacrifice. Our Lord promises His holy people: “I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord.”[2]

Our Lord called Saint Cecilia to espouse Him in love, to offer to Him her virginity, her whole being. Saint Cecilia responded with all her heart, placing her heart completely into the glorious pierced Heart of our Lord. In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, her love was purified and strengthened, so that the witness of her virginal love reached its fullness with the crown of martyrdom. The pure white of her love as a virgin found its consummation in the courageous scarlet of her love as a martyr for the faith.

The life and martyrdom of Saint Cecilia, in the few details which have come to us, like the life of every consecrated virgin, teaches each of us the reality of Christ’s love in our lives, a love which invites us to espouse Him, to be one in heart with Him in loving one another as He loves us, purely and selflessly.

Saint Cecilia, by her virginal consecration, teaches all of us the way in which Our Lord is calling us to give ourselves to Him and to His Mystical Body, the Church, and to all men, in love, whether we are called to lifelong, faithful and fruitful love in the married life, in the dedicated single life, in the consecrated life or in the priesthood. On her feast day, we ask Saint Cecilia to pray for us, so that each of us will remain steadfast in responding to our vocation in life, so that we will never fail to provide oil for our lamps, so that, each and every day, Our Lord will find us waiting and ready to welcome Him, with our lamps burning brightly. We pray, through the intercession of Saint Cecilia, that Our Lord will find us always ready to give our hearts completely to Him.

Providentially, our celebration of the memory of Saint Cecilia coincides with the day on which we offer to our Lord the Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the Ordinary Public Consistory, held on this past Saturday, during which our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI created new Cardinals to assist him in his shepherd’s care of the universal Church. The distinctive vesture of the Cardinal, the scarlet biretta and cassock, uncover the meaning of the position to which he is elevated. The purity and selflessness of the Cardinal’s love of the Church, to whom he, as a priest, is espoused in a way analogous to the consecrated virgin, must be further purified and strengthened, in order that, in the words of the Successor of Saint Peter at the imposition of the cardinalitial biretta, the Cardinal may show himself to be “intrepid, even to the shedding of his blood for the building up of the Christian faith, the peace and harmony of the People of God, and the freedom and the extension of the Holy Roman Church.”[3]

The Cardinal has a particular bond with the virgin martyrs. They are a sterling example to him of how he is to love Christ and the Church, while, at the same time, they intercede powerfully for him, so that he may be a sign to the faithful of our Lord’s ceaseless and immeasurable love, “to the end,”[4] to the very outpouring of His life for us, on Calvary, His Sacrifice made ever present for us in the Holy Eucharist.

The cassock, the traditional and venerable vesture of the priest, Bishop and Cardinal, in carrying out the office of pastoral charity, above all in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, is a sign of his belonging totally to Christ through priestly consecration.[5] When the priest puts on the cassock, he is reminded in a visible way that he has been configured to Christ, Head and Shepherd of the flock in every time and place, and that it is Christ Who is acting in Him, most especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Penance, for the salvation of all men and of the whole world. The cassock also helps him to avoid the temptation to see himself, instead of Christ, as the protagonist in the works of pastoral charity, and, thereby, it is a practical help in the daily conversion of life, in the day by day emptying of himself, so that his priestly being may be filled with the grace of Christ the High Priest.

The change of the color of the cassock for the Bishop expresses the gift of the fullness of the priesthood, and for the Cardinal a particular service given to the Shepherd of the universal Church, in his office of “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of the faith and of communion.”[6] For my own part, I can testify that with the changing of the color of the cassock there comes an increase of responsibility, in Christ, for the life of the Church, which is daunting, but there is likewise a wonderful outpouring of grace for the bearing of the burden. The courageous bearing of the burden for love of Christ and His flock brings deep and abiding joy and peace. In this light, we understand the importance of our daily prayers for our priests, Bishops, Cardinals and the Holy Father. In this light, you will understand that I, as a Cardinal, need your prayers now more than ever.

In striving to understand the service of the Cardinal in the Church, one naturally turns to the lives of Cardinals who have been heroically virtuous in fulfilling the responsibilities of their office. I think, for example, of Saint John Fisher who received the Cardinal’s hat, when he was already in prison for his refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy of King Henry VIII, by which he would have betrayed Christ, denying that Christ alone is Head and Shepherd of the Church through His Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter. When the Cardinal’s hat reached Calais in France on its way from Rome to London, the King was informed and immediately sent his secretary, Thomas Cromwell, to speak with Bishop Fisher in prison. When Cromwell asked the good Bishop whether he would accept the Cardinal’s hat from the Holy Father, Pope Paul III, should it be sent to him, Saint John Fisher responded:

“I know myself far unworthy of any such dignity, that I think of nothing less than such matters; but if he do send it to me, assure yourself I will work with it by all means I can to benefit the church of Christ, and in that respect I will receive it on my knees.”[7]

The King, whose heart had once been belonged to the Lord but had then turned against the Lord, understood the meaning of Saint John Fisher’s words and, in his angry rebellion against the law of Our Lord, written on his very heart, declared:

“Well, let the pope send him a hat, when he will. But I will so provide that, whensoever it cometh, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head shall he have no more to see it on.”[8]

On June 22, 1535, Saint John Fisher was beheaded, intrepid in giving himself totally to Our Lord and His Church, to the very outpouring of his blood.

Although not every Cardinal will be called to give his life in red martyrdom for the sake of the Church and, above all, for the sake of the exercise of the ministry of the Vicar of Christ on earth, he is called daily to be intrepid, to give his life in white martyrdom, steadfastly and courageously defending the Catholic Church and her holy faith in the care of Saint Peter and his successors. How steadfast and courageous a Cardinal must be, today, in assisting Pope Benedict XVI in his pastoral ministry, announcing the truth of the faith, caring for the worthy celebration of the Sacraments as the privileged actions of Christ for our eternal salvation and for the life of prayer, devotion and penance, and governing lovingly and firmly the members of the Body of Christ, so that they may be one in Christ Who alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life!”[9]

I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s tireless teaching of the moral law to a world which, like King Henry VIII, is in rebellion against the law of God, written upon every human heart, above all in its violations of the dignity of human life and the integrity of the family as the first cell of society. In his address to representatives of British society, on this past September 17th, Pope Benedict lovingly and firmly taught the truth that our religious faith must inform our life in society, purifying and strengthening political action so that it may be coherent with right reason, with the law of God written upon every human heart. He declared:

“Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square.”[10]

How pernicious it is that, in society which, for the pursuit of the common good, depends upon citizens acting in obedience to their conscience, her government attempts to compel her citizens to violate their conscience in its most fundamental tenets pertaining to the dignity of all human life and the integrity of the family!

The Church’s teaching on the service of the Church to society, also in the political realm, as the Holy Father himself noted, is not always welcome, even as the Church’s teaching on the Petrine office was not welcomed by King Henry VIII, but the Church, the Virgin Mother of all the faithful, must keep her lamp trimmed and burning brightly, waiting always for the coming of Our Lord and welcoming Him each day, at every hour, as He offers us the grace of eternal salvation.

The Cardinal today is called, in a special way, to assist the Roman Pontiff in announcing all of the truths of the faith, but, in a particular way, the truth regarding the natural moral law to be observed for the good of all in society.

There are so many other aspects of the Petrine ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, to which a Cardinal must attend and be ready to offer his assistance to the Vicar of Christ on earth.

I think also of the tireless work of our Holy Father to carry out a reform of the post-Conciliar liturgical reform[11], conforming the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy to the perennial teaching of the Church as it was presented anew at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, so that in every liturgical action we may see more clearly the action of Christ Himself who unites heaven and earth, even now, in preparation for His Final Coming, when He will inaugurate “news heaven and a new earth,”[12] when we will all celebrate the fullness of life and love in the liturgy in the heavenly Jerusalem.[13] The Cardinal today is called, in a special way, to assist the Successor of Saint Peter, in handing on, in an unbroken organic line, what Christ Himself has given us in the Church, His Eucharistic Sacrifice, “the font and highest expression of the whole Christian life.”[14] The right order of Sacred Worship in the Church is the condition of the possibility of the right order of her teaching and the right order of her conduct.

May our celebration of the Holy Eucharist on the Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, unite our hearts more totally to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, ever open to receive us, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Lifting up our hearts, with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glorious Sacred Heart of Jesus, our lives will be purified and strengthened for a more pure and selfless love of God and of one another.

Lifting up our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we lift up to Him, in a special way, the newly created Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, thanking Him for them and praying that every Cardinal will always find in His glorious pierced Heart the purification and the strength to fulfill the particular responsibilities of service to His Vicar on earth, “intrepid, even to the shedding of his blood for the building up of the Christian faith, the peace and harmony of the People of God, and the freedom and the extension of the Holy Roman Church.”[15]

In the Heart of Jesus, may we all find the wisdom by which we will keep our lamps trimmed, provided with the unfailing oil of His grace, so that at every moment of our lives, we, with Saint Cecilia, will be waiting and ready to meet Him with our lamps burning brightly.

Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all Hearts, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.

Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

Saint John Fisher, Bishop, Cardinal and Martyr, pray for us.

—Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis (USA)

Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

NOTES

[1] Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, ed. Herbert Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, Vol. 4, New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1956, p. 402; and Bibliotheca Sanctorum, Vol. 3, Roma: Istituto Giovanni XXIII nella Pontificia Università Lateranense, 1963, coll. 1064-1086.

[2] Hos 2:19-20.

[3] “usque ad effusionem sanguinis pro incremento christianae fidei, pace et quiete populi Dei, libertate et diffusione Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae [vos ipsos] intrepidos [exhibere debere].” “Imposizione della berretta,” Consistoro per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali, 20 November 2010, Città del Vaticano: Ufficio delle Celebrazioni Liturgiche del Sommo Pontefice, p. 23.

[4] Jn 13:1.

[5] Cf. Herbert Thurston, “Costume, Clerical,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1913, pp. 419-421.

[6] “perpetuum ac visibile unitatis fidei et communionis principium et fundamentum.” Sacrosanctum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, “Constitutio dogmatica de Ecclesia, Lumen gentium, 21 November 1964, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57 (1965), p. 22, no. 18.

[7] Quoted in: E. E. Reynolds, Saint John Fisher, rev. ed., Wheathampstead – Hertfordshire: Anthony Clarke Books, 1972, pp. 272-273.

[8] Ibid., p. 273.

[9] Jn 14:6.

[10] Pope Benedict XVI, “Reason and faith need each other,” 17 September 2010, L’Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, 22 September 2010, pp. 12-13.

[11] Benedictus PP. XVI, “Allocutio ad Romanam Curiam ob omina natalicia,” 22 Decembris 2005, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 98 (2006), pp. 45-52; and Benedictus PP. XVI, “Epistula ad Episcopos Catholicae Ecclesiae Ritus Romani,” 7 Julii 2007, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 99 (2007), pp. 795-799.

[12] 2 Pt 3:13; cf. Rv 21:1.

[13] Cf. Heb 12:22-24; and Rv 21:2-27.

[14] “totius vitae christianae fontem et culmen.” Sacrosanctum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, “Constitutio Dogmatica de Ecclesia, Lumen gentium,” 21 November 1964, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57 (1964), p. 15, no. 11.

[15] Cf. note 3.

Courtesy of Dr. Robert Moynihan, Inside the Vatican Magazine

Homily from the Holy Father’s Mass for the sick (at Lourdes)

In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures, looking down on us, is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person. This smile, a true reflection of God’s tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope. Unfortunately we know only too well: the endurance of suffering can upset life’s most stable equilibrium, it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life.

There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace. When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence: we seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but also the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith.

Who could be more intimate to us than Christ and his holy Mother, the Immaculate One? More than any others, they are capable of understanding us and grasping how hard we have to fight against evil and suffering.

The Letter to the Hebrews says of Christ that he “is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses; for in every respect he has been tempted as we are” (cf. Heb 4:15).

I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness, in support of life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.

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Father Z provides some commentary on the Pope’s remarks, while in Portugal

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“It is written in the book of Psalms, … ‘His office let another take’. One of these men, then […] must become a witness with us to his resurrection” (Acts 1:20-22). These were the words of Peter, as he read and interpreted the word of God in the midst of his brethren gathered in the Upper Room following Jesus’ ascension to heaven. [Pay attention: This is, once again, Peter reading and interpreting the Scriptures in the midst of the brethren gathered. Benedict is Peter.] The one who was chosen was Matthias, who had been a witness to the public life of Jesus and his victory over death, and had remained faithful to him to the end, despite the fact that many abandoned him. The “disproportion” between the forces on the field, which we find so alarming today, astounded those who saw and heard Christ two thousand years ago. It was only he, from the shore of the Lake of Galilee right up to the squares of Jerusalem, alone or almost alone at the decisive moments: he, in union with the Father; he, in the power of the Spirit. Yet it came about, in the end, that from the same love that created the world, the newness of the Kingdom sprang up like a small seed which rises from the ground, like a ray of light which breaks into the darkness, like the dawn of a unending day: it is Christ Risen. And he appeared to his friends, showing them the need for the Cross in order to attain the resurrection.  [The Holy Father is also trying to spur a “new evangelization”.]

On that day Peter was looking for a witness to all this. Two were presented, and heaven chose “Matthias, and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26). Today we celebrate his glorious memory in this “undefeated city”, which festively welcomes the Successor of Peter. I give thanks to God that I have been able come here and meet you around the altar. I offer a cordial greeting to you, my brethren and friends of the city and the Diocese of Oporto, to those who have come from the ecclesiastical province of Northern Portugal and from nearby Spain, and to all those physically or spiritually present at this liturgical assembly. [That means you, dear reader.] […]

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Washington, DC homily: all about truth, obedience, sacrifice, mystery, love and glory.

Bishop Edward Slattery, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, stepped up and made himself available to be celebrant for the Pontifical Mass in the older, traditional Extraordinary Form for the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the beginning of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, at the National  Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

Here’s how he wrapped up his 17-minute homily. Hear or read all of it using the link below.

Christ’s Sacred Heart is the image of the obedience which Christ showed by his sacrificial love on Calvary. The Sacrifice of Calvary is also for us the means by which we are made obedient and this is a point which you must never forget: at Mass, we offer ourselves to the Father in union with Christ, who offers Himself in perfect obedience to the Father. We make this offering in obedience to Christ who commanded us to “Do this in memory of me” and our obediential offering is perfected in the love with which the Father receives the gift of His Son.

Do not be surprised then that here at Mass, our bloodless offering of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary is a triple act of obedience. First, Christ is obedient to the Father, and offers Himself as a sacrifice of reconciliation. Secondly, we are obedient to Christ and offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus the Son; and thirdly, in sharing Christ’s obedience to the Father, we are made obedient to a new order of reality, in which love is supreme and life reigns eternal, in which suffering and death have been defeated by becoming for us the means by which Christ’s final victory, his future coming, is made manifest and real today.

Suffering then, yours, mine, the Pontiffs, is at the heart of personal holiness, because it is our sharing in the obedience of Jesus which reveals his glory. It is the means by which we are made witnesses of his suffering and sharers in the glory to come.

Do not be dismayed that there are many in the Church who have not yet grasped this point, and fewer yet still in the world will even dare to consider it. But you – you know this to be true – and it is enough. For ten men who whisper the truth speak louder than a hundred million who lie.

If, then, someone asks of what we spoke today, tell them we spoke only of the truth. If someone asks why it is you came here to Mass, say that it was so that you could be obedient with Christ. If someone asks about the homily, tell them it was about a mystery. And if someone asks what I said to the present situation, tell them only that we must – all of us – become saints through what we suffer.

Link to Fr. Z’s site

Catholic Deacon’s Homily Allegedly Compares Elijah Muhammad with Jesus Christ

ali

Q: A deacon gave the homily at this morning’s Mass, where he spoke of how the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad  inspired the boxer Muhammad Ali, just like the teachings of Jesus Christ inspired John the Baptist.

Catholics have literally thousands of authentic saints to whom we can look for inspiration. This deacon picks a couple of people who weren’t even authentically Muslim, and directly compares them to the greatest of the prophets (John the Baptist) and to Jesus Christ, who is both Savior and God!

My question is: How could the pastor/priest (who was sitting right there, listening) allow such a thing to be preached in a Catholic Church? 

A: I suggest you speak directly to the good deacon and to the pastor about this possibly scandalous homily. You may also want to send a note to your bishop,  just to keep him (the bishop) properly up to date on things. 

Here’s a link to some background information on Elijah Muhammad, Muhammad Ali, the Nation of Islam, and on traditional  Islam: http://www.islamfortoday.com/nationofislam.htm

It appears that Muhammad Ali later converted to traditional Islam. 

Here’s what the Catholic Church officially teaches about the authentic Muslim faith (from the Catechism):

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”330

You might also find this post useful:

 https://douglawrence.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/10-rules-for-handling-disagreements-like-a-christian/