Easter Sunday Homily

Holy Thursday Sermon

Homily on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church

Ash Wednesday Sermon

Dominica in Quinquagesima Sermon

Homily on the Patronal Feast of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

In Epiphania Domini

Sermon for the Epiphany of Our Lord

Sermon for Christmas Day

Sermon for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent

Homily on the Patronal Feast at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Sermon for the Votive Mass of Our Lady on Saturday in Advent 2023, Rorate Caeli Mass

Sermon on the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of St. Mary of the Snow

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

Sermon for the Votive Mass of Our Lady Help of Christians

Homily on the Third Sunday of Easter 2023

Dominica Resurrectionis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi (Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ)

Sermon on Holy Thursday

Homily on Passion [Palm] Sunday

Homily on the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2022

Homily list

Ash Wednesday Sermon

Minor Basilica of Saints Celsus and Julian


14 February 2024

Jl 2, 12-19

Mt 6, 16-21


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

We begin the observance of the Season of Lent by uniting ourselves to Our Lord in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, the sacramental renewal of His Sacrifice on Calvary. Our sincere participation in the Holy Mass, today, is both the recognition of our sinfulness, of our need of salvation, and the expression of confidence in God’s all-merciful response to our contrition, of confidence in the help of divine grace and in eternal life. Thus, we will pray over offerings in the Secret: “Lord, we implore You, make us fit to offer You these gifts with which we celebrate the beginning of this august mystery.”[1]

In his commentary on the Sacred Liturgy for Ash Wednesday, Blessed Ildephonse Schuster reminds us that the mystery of grace of the Lenten Season is the Paschal Mystery. He writes:

In the Secret we ask God to give us the right disposition in which to offer to him the solemn Sacrifice that inaugurates the paschal season. For in the ancient liturgical terminology Easter commenced on Maundy Thursday with the Coena Domini [The Mass of the Lord’s Supper], hence a particularly suitable phrase describes the Sacrifice of this first day of Lent as the opening rite of the paschal cycle – Ipsius venerabilis sacramenti celebramus exordium [we celebrate the beginning of this august mystery].[2]

The Lenten observance is called a sacrament or mystery to signify the strong grace for sanctification, which it offers to souls. It is the grace of a deeper knowledge of Christ, of a fuller welcome of Christ into the soul, of a more faithful cooperation with the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit by which Christ dwells with us always. The Lenten observance is entering more faithfully and generously into the divine life won for us by the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, most perfectly contained and communicated in His Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Our participation in the Holy Eucharist is the form of our Christian life, of communion with Christ in the total oblation of self, in the carrying of the Cross, and in the culmination of the oblation, in the attainment of the destiny for which we carry the Cross with Christ: eternal life. Blessed Ildephonse Schuster describes the richness of our Lenten observance:

The fruit of this first day of fasting is the spirit of inward contrition and of a true return to God, outward signs of penitence being useless unless the heart has resolutely renounced sin. This is what the Lesson from Joel (ii 12-19) teaches us. The Jews used to rend their garments, tear their hair, and sprinkle dust on their heads in sign of mourning and grief; but this is not what God demands when he sends chastisements upon his people. By depriving them suddenly of those temporal blessings by the abuse of which they were becoming still more hardened in sin, he desires to call them to a complete change of life.[3]

Conscious of our own sinfulness and of the deadly corruption of sin which besets the Church and society, we turn with all our hearts to Our Lord. He responds to our contrition by inviting us to be true to our communion with Him in the Eucharistic sacrifice: to pray more ardently throughout each day, to discipline more strictly our use of the goods with which He has blessed us, and to give more freely from our substance for love of our brothers and sisters, especially those in most need.

Our embrace of the Lenten observance is most demanding but it is not saddening, for it is the means of a deeper life in Christ. Let us recall daily the instruction and promise of Our Lord in today’s Gospel:

And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[4]

May the ashes sprinkled upon our heads today be both the sign of contrition for the sins which we have committed and the sign of our confidence in the help of divine grace to reform our lives and to transform the world.

With “the spirit of inward contrition and of a true return to God”[5] let us lift up our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph, to the glorious-pierced Heart of Jesus opened for us in His Eucharistic Sacrifice. May our life in Christ in the Holy Eucharist we celebrate be our greatest treasure. Thus may our hearts be in His Most Sacred Heart always.

Nel nome del Padre, del Figlio e dello Spirito Santo. Così sia.

Raymond Leo Burke

[1] “Fac nos, quaesumus, Domine, his muneribus offerendis convenienter aptari: quibus ipsius venerabilis sacramenti celebramus exordium.” “Tempus Quadragesimae, Feria Quarta Cinerum, De Missa, Secreta,” Missale Romanum ex Decreto Sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum Summorum Pontificum cura recognitum (Tornaci [Tournai, Belgium]: Typis Desclée & Sociorum, 1962). English translation: Gaspar Lefebvre and the Monks of St. Andrew’s Abbey, Saint Andrew Daily Missal with Vespers for Sundays and Feasts (Bruges [Belgium]: Biblica, 1972), p. 182.

[2] “Nella preghiera sulle oblate, noi supplichiamo il Signore che ci conceda le debite disposizioni, onde offrirgli quel solenne Sacrificio che inaugura le primizie del sacro tempo pasquale. Infatti, nell’antica terminologia liturgica, la Pasqua cominciava precisamente il giovedì santo colla Coena Domini; onde con elegantissima frase, il Sacrificio di questo primo giorno di quaresima viene considerato siccome il rito inaugurale o di prolusione del ciclo pasquale: ipsius venerabilis sacramenti celebramus exordium.” A. I. Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum. Note storiche e liturgiche sul Messale Romano, Vol. III, Il Testamento Nuovo nel Sangue del Redentore (La Sacra Liturgia dalla Settuagesima a Pasqua, 4ª ed. (Torino-Roma: Casa Editrice Marietti, 1933), p. 44. [Schuster]. English translation: Ildefonso Schuster, The Sacramentary (Liber Sacramentorum), Vol. II (Parts 3 and 4), tr. Arthur Levelis-Marke (Waterloo, ON: Arouca Press, 2020), p. 44. [SchusterEng].

[3] “Il frutto di questo primo giorno di digiuno, è lo spirito d’intima contrizione e di verace ritorno a Dio, essendo inutili i segni di penitenza esteriore, quando il cuore non si allontana dal peccato. È quello appunto che c’insegna Ioel colla sua lezione (II, 12-19). Gli Ebrei in segno di lutto e di dolore usavano di lacerarsi le vesti, di strapparsi i capelli, di cospargere il crine di polvere; ma è ben altro quello che cerca il Signore quando manda i suoi flagelli sui popoli. Egli allora intende di invitarli a riformare la propria vita, strappando loro violentemente quei beni di natura, dei quali essi abusavano per indurare vieppiù nell’impietà.” Schuster, p. 43. English translation: SchusterEng, p. 43.

[4] Mt 6, 16-18.

[5] Schuster, p. 43. English translation: SchusterEng, p. 43.