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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

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Homily list

Homily for the Dedication Mass of the Church at the Shrine of Oud Lady of Guadalupe

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
La Crosse, Wisconsin

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.

Entering this church, set apart as the House of God through the ancient and most beautiful Rite of Consecration, we pilgrims indeed encounter God Himself. In this church, God the Son Incarnate renews His bloody Sacrifice on Calvary in an unbloody, sacramental, manner and resides in the tabernacle, in order to be with us always. Entering here, we pilgrims know, at once, both the profound reality of Christ dwelling within our souls through the outpouring of the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit, and the profound reality of the eternal destiny of our daily earthly pilgrimage, the Heavenly Jerusalem.

The Shrine Church is the holy place, the destiny of the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Virgin Mother of God draws the pilgrim here to encounter her Divine Son, to know His mercy and love, and to have a foretaste of the consummation of His love in the Kingdom of Heaven. Our Lady desires for the pilgrim the same grace which Zacchaeus received, when he climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Our Lord. It is the grace of the forgiveness of sins, of reparation for sins committed, and of eternal salvation.

When the crowd, falsely imagining that somehow Our Lord was condoning the sinful life of Zacchaeus, criticized Our Lord, Zacchaeus declared the grace of forgiveness and reparation at work in his soul: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”[1] Our Lord, for His part, responded:

Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.[2]

The pilgrim, encountering Our Lord in His House, through the Sacrament of Penance and, above all, through the Eucharistic Sacrifice and its incomparable fruit, Holy Communion, seeks to know Our Lord more intimately, to love Him more ardently, and to serve Him more selflessly.

At the same time, the pilgrim contemplates the destiny of his or her life pilgrimage, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal presence of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and the company of the angels and all the saints. All of the beauty of the House of God, its architecture, its decoration, the sacred music which inspires and elevates prayer and worship, the care with which the sacred rites are prepared and carried out, is a reflection of the beauty of our life in Christ during this life and a foretaste of the fullness of beauty which we will behold in the company of God, when we pass from this life to the eternal life which is to come. When we enter the House of God, we encounter not only “what may be touched”[3] and heard, but, in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, we “come … to the city of the living God, … and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.”[4]

In the House of God, heaven descends to earth: God the Son Incarnate, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, comes to meet us at the altar of sacrifice, in the tabernacle, in the confessional, through prayer, devotions and Sacred Worship. Entering the Shrine Church, the pilgrim experiences personally the fulfillment of Our Lord’s promise made through the Prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the sons of Israel for ever.[5]

Drawn to the House of God today, on the Anniversary of its Solemn Dedication, let us pray that the Shrine here, in every aspect of its life, will help pilgrims to encounter Christ, God the Son Incarnate, to recognize the mystery of His life with us on earth, and to live in daily and faithful expectation of the final destiny of our life pilgrimage in the New and Eternal Jerusalem. Let us also remember in prayer those who cannot come to the House of God here but who are spiritually united with us, those who have asked us to remember them in prayer in this holy place. Let us also remember those who are away from the Lord and are in so much need of the grace of faith, and of prayer and worship. Let each of us pray for the grace to be, like Saint Juan Diego, a messenger of Our Lady of Guadalupe who desires, in the House of God here, to bring pilgrims to her Divine Son and, in her words, to 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.”[6]

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 inspire and strengthen in us holiness of daily life and an abiding longing for our eternal home with Him in Heaven.

Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us!

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

Saint Juan Diego, pray for us!

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

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] Lc 19, 8.

[2] Lc 19, 9-10.

[3] Heb 12, 18.

[4] Heb 12, 22-24.

[5] Ezek 43, 7.

[6] “… 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.” “Apéndice A – El Nican Mopohua” in Carl A. Anderson y Mons. Eduardo Chávez, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Madre de la civilización del amor (México, D.F.: Random House Mondadori, S.A. de C.V., 2010), p. 214, n. 28. English translation: “Appendix A – The Nican Mopohua” in Carl A. Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p. 173, no. 28.