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Cardinal Burke’s Sermon in Sydney

17 September, 2014 0 Comments

The following is the sermon Cardinal Burke gave at the Solemn Pontifical Mass at the throne that he celebrated in St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney on 27 August for the Oriens Foundation, for the special intention of the Propagation of the Faith. In coming days Oriens will be publishing other talks given by His Eminence during his recent Australian tour, which was partially funded by the Oriens foundation.

Sir 36, 1-8. 15-17. Mt 9, 35-38

In our time, however, there has developed a timidity about announcing openly the Catholic faith and its practice to others. There is even the false tendency among some Catholics to pretend that the Catholic faith and practice is just one among various ways to eternal salvation and so to excuse themselves from the exercise of their missionary calling.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

Arrival of Cardinal Burke at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney (Photo courtesy of Newman Parish Caulfield Website)

At the conclusion of a day of meeting with university students to deepen our knowledge of the Catholic faith and its practice, it is most fitting to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the intention of the spread of the faith to all peoples. The truth, the beauty and the goodness of our Catholic faith draws us to an always deeper knowledge of Our Lord Who speaks to us and acts on our behalf in His Mystical Body the Church. Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, speaks to us and acts on our behalf in the fullest way possible on earth through the Eucharistic Sacrifice which we now offer. But, as we grow in knowledge and love of Our Lord Who truly dwells with us, we also accept ever greater responsibility as co-workers in His mission of the salvation of the world.

It is not possible for us to give our hearts to Christ without sharing His thirst for souls1, without participating in the unceasing and immeasurable desire of God the Father that all men should be saved. Thus we have prayed in today’s Collect:

O God, You desire that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of Your truth: send, we pray You, labourers into Your harvest, and grant them grace to speak Your word with all trust: that Your words may run and be glorified, and that all nations may know You the one true God, and Him whom You sent, Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord.2

Knowing the universal saving will of God the Father, revealed fully in the Redemptive Incarnation of His only-begotten Son, we are led immediately to pray for the spread of the truth of Christ’s Word and of the love of His Sacraments to the whole world.

The Gospel tells us that Christ “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.”3 The Gospel also tells us what inspired Christ’s teaching and healing: He looked upon “the crowds” with the compassion of God the Father, and He saw that “they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”4 God the Son, in accord with the promise of God the Father,5 came to be the Good Shepherd leading all men in the way of eternal life.6

Through the Incarnation and Public Ministry of His Incarnate Son, culminating in the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, God the Father answered the prayer of His people in the Book of Sirach. His people prayed that God might make known His sovereignty by destroying their adversaries and enemies, thus vindicating their faith in Him. They prayed:

Lift up thy hand against foreign nations

and let them see thy might.

As in us thou hast been sanctified before them,

so in them be thou magnified before us;

and let them know, as we have known

that there is no God but thee, O Lord.7

Cardinal Burke preaching this sermon (Photo courtesy of Newman Parish Website)

Christ reveals the sovereignty of the Father by His tender and tireless compassion, teaching and healing the multitudes, and ultimately offering His very life on Calvary for the salvation of all men. And, what is more, at the Last Supper, he instituted the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood, so that He might make present the offering of His Body and Blood on the altars of our churches and chapels for all men of every time and of every place.

As He went about His mission, Our Lord also made clear the call of the disciples to be His co-workers. As He was visiting “all the cities and villages,” He exhorted His disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”8 Knowing directly the love and truth of God the Father in God the Son Who has taken our human flesh, in order to save all men from sin and everlasting death, we are inspired and strengthened to share His pure and selfless love with all our brothers and sisters, without boundary. In fact, the greatest act of love we show to another is our loving witness to the truth of Christ Who alone is our salvation. When our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, rest securely in the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Christ purifies us of sin and strengthens us to bring the love from His Heart to our neighbors, especially to those in most need. Our Lord invites us to quench our thirst for salvation in His glorious pierced Heart, so that from our hearts “rivers of living water” may flow to our brothers and sisters who hunger and thirst to know God, His truth and His love.9

Reflecting upon the essentially missionary dynamism of our union of heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we think of the example of outstanding apologists like Gilbert Keith Chesterton whose writings continue to draw many to Christ. We think, too, of the everyday street preaching and other forms of apologetics in the Church of the not too distant past. In our time, however, there has developed a timidity about announcing openly the Catholic faith and its practice to others. There is even the false tendency among some Catholics to pretend that the Catholic faith and practice is just one among various ways to eternal salvation and so to excuse themselves from the exercise of their missionary calling.

Writing about the Church’s charitable works in his first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI carefully distinguished between proselytism and a genuine witness to the faith. He wrote:

Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak.10

For the Christian, it is completely natural to speak of the love of Christ which impels him without in any way coercing another to embrace the faith.11 In fact, those who do not share our faith can only be left in wonderment when we do not speak about or give an account of what is most important to us and to our daily living, our communion with God the Father in God the Son through the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Solemn Pontifical High Mass (Photo courtesy of Newman Parish, Caulfield website)

The Fathers at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council taught what the Church has always taught about the true religion. In the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, “On Religious Liberty,” they declared:

The sacred Council begins by professing that God himself has made known to the human race how men by serving him can be saved and reach happiness in Christ. We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all men when he said to the apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 18:19- 20). All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it.12

Blessed today to deepen our knowledge of the one true faith, taught to us in the Roman Catholic Church, let us pray for the grace to spread the faith always, according to our vocation in life and to the particular gifts with which God has endowed each of us, for the glory of His holy Name and for the salvation of many souls.

Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we now lift up our hearts, together with the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, first opened by the soldier’s spear on Calvary and forever open to receive us with immeasurable and unceasing love. In His Eucharistic Heart, Our Lord will cleanse our hearts of all sin and fill them with the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, from our hearts, “rivers of living water” will flow for the salvation of many brothers and sisters, for the salvation of the world.

Heart of Jesus, in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Help of Christians, pray for us.

Saint Mary of the Cross, pray for us.

Saint Peter Chanel, pray for us.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

Cardinal Burke in Cappa Magna (photo courtesy of Newman Parish, caulfield website)

1 Cf. Jn 3, 14-15; 19, 28.

2 “Deus, qui omnes homines vis salvos fieri, et ad agnitionem veritatis venire: mitte, quaesumus, operarios in messem tuam, et da eis cum omni fiducia loqui verbum tuum; ut sermo tuus currat et clarificetur, et omnes gentes cognoscant te solum Deum verum, et quem misisti Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum.” Missale Romanum. English translation: Saint Andrew Daily Missal, ed. Gaspar Lefebvre and the Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey (Bruges, Belgium: Biblica, 1962), p. 1651.

2 “Deus, qui omnes homines vis salvos fieri, et ad agnitionem veritatis venire: mitte, quaesumus, operarios in messem tuam, et da eis cum omni fiducia loqui verbum tuum; ut sermo tuus currat et clarificetur, et omnes gentes cognoscant te solum Deum verum, et quem misisti Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum.” Missale Romanum. English translation: Saint Andrew Daily Missal, ed. Gaspar Lefebvre and the Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey (Bruges, Belgium: Biblica, 1962), p. 1651.

3 Mt 9, 35.

4 Mt 9, 36.

5 Ezek 34, 15.

6 Jn 10, 11-17.

7 Sir 36, 3-5.

8 Mt 9, 37-38.

9 Jn 7, 38.

10 “Caritas, praeterea, non debet esse instrumentum quoddam in via alicuius rei quae hodie proselytismus nominatur. Gratuitus est amor; non exercetur ad proposita consequenda aliena. Sed hoc non significat actuositatem caritativam debere, ut ita dicamus, Deum et Christum seorsum relinquere. Agitur semper de toto homine. Saepe Dei absentia causa est altissima doloris. Qui in nomine Ecclesiae caritatem exercet, numquam conabitur aliis fidem Ecclesiae iniungere. Ille novit amorem sua in puritate gratuitateque optimam esse Dei testificationem in quem credimus et a quo ad amorem suscitamur. Christianus novit quando opportunum sit de Deo loqui et quando iustum sit de ipso tacere atque permittere ut amor ipse loquatur.” Benedictus PP. XVI, Litterae Encyclicae Deus Caritas Est, “De Christiano amore,” 25 Decembris 2005, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 98 (2006), 245, n. 31c. English translation: Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, “On Christian Love,” 25 December 2005 (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, nd), p. 57, no. 31c.

11 Cf. 2 Cor 5, 14.

12 “Primum itaque profitetur Sacra Synodus Deum Ipsum viam generi humano notam fecisse per quam, Ipsi inserviendo, homines in Christo salvi et beati fieri possint. Hanc unicam veram Religionem subsistere credimus in catholica et apostolica Ecclesia, cui Dominus Iesus munus credidit eam ad universos homines diffundendi, dicens Apostolis: «Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis» (Matth. 28, 19-20). Homines vero cuncti tenentur veritatem, praesertim in iis quae Deum Eiusque Ecclesiam respiciunt, quaerere eamque congitam amplecti ac servare.” Sacrosanctum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, Declaratio Dignitatis Humanae, “De libertate religiosa,” 7 Decembris 1965, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 58 (1966), 930, n. 1. English translation: Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, rev. ed. (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1988), pp. 799-800, no. 1.

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