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Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

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By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE

(Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved.
(This is part two, which concludes the address; part one appeared in last week’s issue.)

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Part 2

Observing the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we must recall how her Message or, as it is sometimes called, her Secret, is principally meant to address a widespread apostasy in the Church and the failure of the Church’s shepherds to correct it. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, first and foremost, the triumph of the Faith which teaches us what is our right relationship with God and with others.
Surely, Christ the Good Shepherd demands that those ordained to act in His person on behalf of the whole flock go in search of the lost sheep. (9) But when the good shepherd finds the lost sheep, he does not leave it in its lost condition but takes it upon his shoulders to bring it back to the fold. The true shepherd of the flock, conformed to Christ the Good Shepherd sacramentally and striving to grow ever more faithfully in the priestly identity, is a good father who seeks out the wandering or lost son or daughter, in order to bring him or her back to the fold, to Christ Who alone saves us from our sin. Referring to the joy of the shepherd who has brought home the lost sheep, Our Lord concludes the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the words:
“And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing. And on coming home he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I say to you that, even so, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance” (10)
What then must be our response to the exceedingly difficult times in which we are living, times which realistically seem to be apocalyptic? It must be the response of faith, of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is alive for us in the Church and Who never fails to teach, sanctify and guide us in the Church, even as He professed to remain with us always until His return on the Last Day to inaugurate “new heavens and a new earth,” (11) to welcome the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. (12)
We know what Christ teaches us in the Church. It is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the official teaching of the Church. His teaching does not change. In the midst of the present confusion and division, we must study more attentively the teachings of the faith contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and be prepared to defend those teachings against any falsehood which would erode the faith and thus the unity of the Church.
At the same time, in our anguish over the many troubling manifestations of confusion, division and error in the Church, we must not fail to recognize also the many edifying signs of fidelity to Christ in the Church. I think of so many good Catholic homes in which knowledge, love and service of Christ is the center of life. I think of the many good and steadfast faithful, priests and Bishops who live the faith and give an account of it by their daily living.
In the troubled times through which we are passing it is important that good and faithful Catholics gather to deepen their faith and to encourage one another. Please permit me to observe that The Church Teaches Forum provides a most important service to us all in the Church, especially at a time when the Church is in crisis.
In order to remain completely united to Christ, in order to be one heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we must go to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, in order to imitate the oneness of her Immaculate Heart with the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus and in order to seek her maternal intercession.
The final words of the Virgin Mother of the Redeemer recorded in the Gospels are the words she spoke to the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana who came to her in anguish over the lack of sufficient wine for the guests of the newlyweds. She responded to them and their situation of great distress by leading them to her Divine Son, also a guest at the Wedding Feast, and instructing them: “Do whatever he tells you.” (13)
These simple words express the mystery of the Divine Maternity by which the Virgin Mary became the Mother of God, bringing God the Son Incarnate into the world. By the same mystery, she continues to be the channel of all the graces which immeasurably and unceasingly pour forth from Her Divine Son’s glorious pierced Heart into the hearts of His faithful brothers and sisters on earthly pilgrimage to their lasting home with Him in Heaven. No less than she did for the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana, our Blessed Mother will draw us always closer to Christ Who alone brings us peace in the midst of our trials.
Invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we must also invoke frequently throughout the day the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel. There is no question that the Church is in the midst of a particularly fierce time of battle against the forces of evil, against Satan and his cohorts. There is a definitely diabolical involvement in the ever spreading confusion, division and error within the Church.
As Saint Paul reminded us in the Letter to the Ephesians, “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.” (14) Saint Michael is our defender in the battle, he is our “safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil” who does not sleep as he “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” (15)
Our Blessed Mother also makes us conscious of our communion with all the saints and, in a particular way, with her most chaste spouse and the foster-father of her Divine Son, Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is the patron of the universal Church. We should pray to him daily for the peace of the Church, for her protection against all forms of confusion and division which are always the work of Satan. Not without reason, one of the titles of Saint Joseph is “Terror of Demons.” As a good father, he will intercede for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.
Our Blessed Mother will likewise lead us to seek the intercession of Saint Peter for his successor, Pope Francis, in order that he know how best to address the grievous situation of the world and the Church, faithfully teaching the word of Christ and addressing it in the loving and firm way of a true spiritual father to the situation of the world today. We should also invoke the intercession of the great pope saints who guided the Church in difficult times with heroic sanctity. I think of Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Saint Gregory VII, Pope Saint Pius V, Pope Saint Pius X, and Pope Saint John Paul II.
In a particular way, we should pray for the Cardinals of the Church, who are the principal counselors of the Roman Pontiff, that they be of true assistance to the Holy Father in exercising his office as “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” (16)
In such times, the service of the Cardinals requires of them a particular clarity and courage, and a willingness to accept whatever suffering is required in order to be faithful to Christ and His Church, “even to the outpouring of their blood” (“usque ad effusionem sanguinis”).
Having drawn close to the Mother of God who unfailingly takes us to her Divine Son, we must remain serene because of our faith in Christ who will not permit the “gates of hell” to prevail against his Church. (17) Serenity does not mean that we ignore or deny the gravity of the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves. It means rather that we are fully conscious of the seriousness of the situation, while at the same time we address all of the needs of the world and the Church to Christ our Savior through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, and the whole company of the saints.
Serenity means that we do not give way to a worldly desperation which expresses itself in aggressive and uncharitable ways. Our confidence is in Christ. Yes, we must do all within our power to defend our Catholic faith in any circumstance in which it is under attack, but we know that the victory belongs ultimately and solely to Christ. Thus, when we have done all that we can do, we are at peace, even if we recognize that we remain “unprofitable servants.” (18)

Schism Is Worldly Thinking

There can be no place in our thinking or acting for schism which is always and everywhere wrong. We should be ready to accept whatever suffering may come for the sake of Christ and His Mystical Body, our holy Mother Church. Like Saint Athanasius and the other great saints who defended the faith in times of severe trial in the Church, we should be ready to accept ridicule, misunderstanding, persecution, exile and even death, in order to remain one with Christ in the Church under the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us pray that at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, we will be able to say with Saint Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me in that day; yet not to me only, but also to those who love his coming.” (19)
Schism is the fruit of a worldly way of thinking, of thinking that the Church is in our hands, instead of in the hands of Christ. The Church in our time has great need of the purification of any kind of worldly thinking. Rather, with Saint Paul who suffered so greatly for the preaching of the faith to all the nations, we should rejoice to fill out in our bodies the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Bride, the Church. (20)
Given the particular nature of the trials of the Church in our time, we must safeguard especially our faith in the Petrine Office and our love for the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis. Our Lord has constituted His Church on the firm foundation of Saint Peter and his successors. The ministry of Saint Peter is essential to the life of the Church. Let us daily renew our faith in the Church and in the divinely-given office of the Roman Pontiff, and let us pray fervently for the Roman Pontiff that he may serve Christ with all obedience and with all generosity.
To conclude, in my response to the young priest who expressed concern that we may be living in the end times, after saying that it may be so, I continued by saying that it is not for us to worry whether these times are apocalyptic or not, but to remain faithful, generous and courageous in serving Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church.
For we know that the final chapter of the story of these times is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ over sin and its most deadly fruit, eternal death. It remains for us to write, with Christ, the intervening chapters by our fidelity, courage and generosity as His true co-workers, as true soldiers of Christ. It remains for us to be the good and faithful servants who await to open the door for the Master at His Coming. (21)
It is my hope that these reflections are helpful to you in living your Catholic faith as fully and perfectly as possible in these most troubled times. In a particular way, it is my hope that they will help you to live lives of peace after the Immaculate Heart of Mary, under which God the Son took a human heart, in order to win peace for our hearts always. Let us make our own the oldest preserved extant hymn to the Virgin Mother of God, found already on an Egyptian papyrus of the 3rd century:
“We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.” (22)
Similarly, let us pray in the words of the ancient hymn for Vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ave Maris Stella:
“Show thyself a mother; may the Word divine, born for us thine Infant, hear our prayers through thine.” (23)
Let us never doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Divine Grace, will lead us to her Divine Son, in order that our hearts, one with her Immaculate Heart, may rest always in His Heart, the only source of our salvation. So we will find peace. We will know, love and serve Christ in our daily living.
Thank you for your kind attention. Please pray for me. May God bless you, your homes, and all your labors.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

FOOTNOTES

9. Cf. Luke 15:1-7.
10. Luke 15:7.
11. 2 Peter 3:13.
12. Rev. 19:9
13. John 2:5.
14. Eph. 6:12.
15. Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
16. Lumen Gentium, n. 22.
17. Matt. 16:18.
18. Luke 17:10.
19. 2 Tim. 4:7-8.
20. Cf. Col. 1:24-29.
21. Cf. Luke 12:35-38.
22. “Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix; nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedica.” Enchiridion Indulgentiarum. Normae et concessiones, ed. 4 (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999), p. 65, n. 17. [EnchInd]. English translation: Manual of Indulgences. Norms and Grants, translated into English from the fourth edition (1999) (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006), p. 62, no. 17. [EnchIndEng].
23. “Monstra te esse matrem, sumat per te preces qui pro nobis natus tulit esse tuus.” The Raccolta or A Manual of Indulgences. Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, tr. Joseph P. Christopher, Charles E. Spence and John F. Rowan (New York: Benziger Brothers, Inc., 1957), pp. 222-223, no. 321.

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