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Homily on the 15th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Shrine Church

Common of the Anniversary of the Dedication of a Church

Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

La Crosse, Wisconsin

31 July 2023

Ezek 43, 1-2. 3c-7a

Ps 84, 3. 4. 5. 10. 11

Heb 12, 18-19. 22-24

Lk 19, 1-10


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The late Dr. Warren H. Carroll, gifted historian and founder of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, after entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church, grew steadily in his devotion to the Virgin Mother of God. In 1983, he published the fruits of his study of the apparitions and message of Our Lady of Guadalupe. His book, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of the Darkness,[1] honors the Virgin Mother of God who led the Mexican people out of the deadly darkness of massive human sacrifice and of violent conflict between the native people and the Spanish explorers and settlers. His small book of just 120 pages provides the historical evidence of the mission which Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the assistance of her messenger Saint Juan Diego, accomplished in 1531 and has continued to accomplish, through her miraculous image on the tilma of Saint Juan Diego, for almost 500 years. It is the mission which she continues to accomplish in this church solemnly dedicated 15 years ago today.

It is the mission of showing her Divine Son Who alone is man’s salvation to all her children. In her first apparition to Saint Juan Diego, on December 9, 1531, she immediately asked that a chapel be built in which pilgrims would encounter her, and she would carry out the mission given to her by God on their behalf. She declared: “I want very much that they build my sacred little house here, in which I will show Him, I will exalt Him upon making Him manifest, I will give Him to all people in all my personal love, Him that is my compassionate gaze, Him that is my help, Him that is my salvation.”[2]

Our Lady draws pilgrims here, to the Shrine Church, to receive the grace of a saving encounter with her Divine Son, Our Lord, as prefigured in the encounter of the grievous sinner Zacchaeus with Our Lord at Jericho. It is the grace which God the Son Incarnate, seated at the right hand of the Father and sacramentally present for us in the Church, pours forth into our hearts from His glorious-pierced Heart. It is the grace of forgiveness of sins and of the conversion of our lives once again to Christ Who alone is our salvation. Meeting Our Lord in prayer and devotion, and, most perfectly of all, in the Sacraments, He dispels the darkness from our lives and invites us to remain in His company always. Thus we know the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel: “Son of Man, this is where my throne shall be, this is where I will set the soles of my feet; here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.”[3] The encounter with Our Lord here is likewise a foretaste of our eternal destiny, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,” as announced in the Letter to the Hebrews.

Privileged to participate in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Solemn Dedication of the Shrine Church, let us pray that the Shrine of Our Lady here, in fidelity to her mission, may radiate ever more brilliantly the light of Christ in a world beset with deadly darkness. We live at a time of shocking disorder in society, a disorder which compromises the very foundation of human life in the family. The godlessness which wantonly assaults the divine law to do good and to avoid evil, with its corollary precepts of respect for the inviolable dignity of human life, for the integrity of marriage and family life, and for the freedom of religion sees the Catholic faith as its enemy and attempts, through false prophets and false shepherds, to undermine from within the divine authority of the Catholic Church.

The darkness caused by pervasive disorder is a source of severe temptation to discouragement for those who strive to practice the Faith as it has been handed down to us in an unbroken line from the Apostles. How can the devout Catholic overcome the temptation to discouragement, which sadly, for some, leads to the abandonment of the Church in which Our Lord dwells with us always, until the Last Day, according to His promise to the Apostles at the time of His Ascension?[4]

The medicine and food which strengthens us to overcome the temptation to discouragement and to be strong in the daily “good fight”[5] of life in the Church is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we are now offering. It is the action of Christ in our midst, making sacramentally present His sacrifice on Calvary for the forgiveness of sins and the victory over Satan and all his temptations and deceptions. The Holy Mass leads us to see our life and especially the suffering in our lives as a call of Our Lord to live more intimately in communion with Him, to put our trust more fully in Him.

In our struggle to understand the permissive will of God, to understand the reason why God permits society and the Church itself to undergo such violent tribulations, the Mother of God, at the foot of the Cross, teaches us to turn again and again to the Lord, placing our trust in Him and in His promises, and rededicating ourselves, in the words of Saint Paul, to “[fight] the good fight,” to “[finish] the race,” and to “[keep] the faith.”[6] The Virgin of Guadalupe draws us to do what we are about to do now: uniting our hearts, together with her Immaculate Heart, to the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus Christ the King of Heaven and Earth in His Eucharistic Sacrifice. In accord with the promise of the Lord, the fruits of His Sacrifice, the fruits of our union with Him in His Sacrifice, are beyond all our imagination. Our Lord not only sacramentally renews His Sacrifice on Calvary, but He remains sacramentally present in the fruit of His Sacrifice, the Sacred Host reposed in the tabernacle and exposed for adoration in the monstrance. He provides that His priests continue to act in His person in the offering of the Holy Mass “from the rising of the sun to its setting”[7] and in the forgiveness of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance.

On this most joyful occasion, let us thank God for the mission of the Shrine, the mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to be a beacon of light which draws all men to Christ Who is Divine Mercy Incarnate, to Christ alive for us always in the Church and most wonderfully in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Let us pray, in a special way, that the Shrine may continue to bring encouragement and strength to the many who today are suffering so severely from the darkness of our times, from the disorder of life in society and in the Church.

After Holy Communion, we will have the great joy of witnessing the induction of Our Lady’s Knights of the Altar, young men who devote themselves to the service of Our Lord as He makes sacramentally present His Sacrifice on Calvary and as He nourishes and heals us with the fruit of His Sacrifice: the Sacred Host which is His true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Our Lady’s Knights of the Altar are formed as soldiers of Christ at His service under the care and direction of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In their service, they strive to be one in heart with her Immaculate Heart, resting always in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us pray for Henry Ilfrey, Nicholas Kusmitch, Michael Stott, and Jacob Sueppel, that they may never tire of serving Christ at the Altar of His Sacrifice, and that, the holiness of their service at the altar may radiate in everything they think and say and do.

Filled with deepest wonder and gratitude, let us now lift up our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin of Guadalupe, to the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus, opened to receive us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. May the love from His Divine Heart heal and strengthen us on our earthly journey to our heavenly home, the New and Eternal Jerusalem. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

[1] Cf. Warren H. Carroll, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness (Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, 1983).

[2] “Mucho quiero, mucho deseo, que aquí me levanten mi casita sagrada, en donde lo mostraré, lo ensalzaré al ponerlo de manifiesto, lo entregaré a las gentes en todo mi amor personal, a Él que es mi mirada compasiva, a Él que es mi auxilio, a Él que es mi salvación.” Carl A. Anderson y Mons. Eduardo Chávez, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Madre de la civilización del amor (México, DF: Random House Mondadori, S.A. de C.V., 2010), p. 214, nn. 26-28. English translation: Carl A. Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p. 173, nos. 26-28.

[3] Ez 43, 7.

[4] Cf. Mt 28, 20

[5] 2 Tim 4, 7

[6] 2 Tm 4, 7.

[7] Mal 1, 11.