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

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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

Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Zech 2, 14-17
Jdt 13, 18bcde. 19
Rv 11, 19a; 12, 1-6a.10ab
Lk 1, 26-38

Praised be Jesus Christ!

The vision of Saint John Apostle and Evangelist, recounted in today’s reading from the Book of Revelation, describes the cosmic conflict between Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the “male child” Who was “destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod,”[1] and Satan and his cohorts. The evil spirits want to destroy Christ at His coming into the world, for they realize that He is the Anointed Who will save the world, establishing “the Kingdom of our God.”[2] They recognize in the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars,”[3] the woman of whom God spoke to Satan after the Fall of Adam and Eve, promising to defeat Satan and to save man from his deadly lies: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”[4]

While the conflict between Satan, with his cohorts, and Our Lord continues until the Last Day, the Day of Our Lord’s Return in Glory to consummate His saving work, the final chapter of its history is already written, for God the Son has become man, has suffered and died on the Cross to save man from sin, and is risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father, in order to remain with man always in the Church. At the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel declared to the Virgin Mary the great truth of the Redemptive Incarnation:

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.[5]

When Mary expressed wonderment about how she could remain a virgin and yet be the Mother of the Savior, the Archangel Gabriel illustrated further the mystery: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”[6]

Trusting in the Lord’s promise, as proclaimed by His Archangel, Mary Immaculate responded: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”[7] With her response, she became the Mother of the Christ, God the Son Incarnate Who defeated Satan and all evil spirits, and the Mother of Divine Grace for all who would come to life in Christ through Baptism.

God is ever true to His promises. He spoke to us through the Prophet Zechariah:

See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD… Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.[8]

From the moment of the Annunciation, God the Son has taken our human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary, in order to remain with us always, until He brings His saving work to its fullness on the Last Day. At the Annunciation, the vision of Saint John Apostle and Evangelist finds its solid and enduring foundation: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”[9] Satan and his cohorts will continue to accuse us before God, that is, they will attempt to beguile us and to lead us away from Christ and the eternal salvation which He alone gives us. But, if we only turn to Him, as His Mother instructs us, if we only “do whatever He tells us,”[10] He will pour forth into our hearts, from His glorious Sacred Heart, His own life, the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we celebrate the wondrous manifestation of the truth of the Redemptive Incarnation at Tepeyac, in present-day Mexico City, from December 9th through 12th of 1531. The Mother of God appeared to Saint Juan Diego on December 9th, declaring clearly the great mystery of her cooperation with her Divine Son in His work of salvation:

Know, know for sure my dearest and youngest son, that I am truly the ever perfect Holy Virgin Mary, who has the honor to be the Mother of the one true God for whom we live, the Creator of people, the Lord of all around us and of what is close to us, the Lord of Heaven, the Lord of Earth.[11]

The Mother of God called upon Saint Juan Diego to be, under her maternal care, the messenger of her Divine Son, drawing others to Him Who alone is our life and our salvation. God left her image on the tilma of Saint Juan Diego, so that she could continue to call men to be messengers of Christ in the world.

The official account of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Nican Mopohua, tells us how, on December 12th, Our Lady provided miraculously the most beautiful flowers for Saint Juan Diego to take to the Bishop as the sign of the truth of her apparitions. It also tells what happened, when he unfolded his tilma before Bishop Juan de Zumárraga:

And then he opened his white tilma, in the hollow of which were the flowers. And all the different flowers, like those from Castille, fell to the floor. Then and there his tilma became the sign, there suddenly appeared the Beloved Image of the Perfect Virgin Saint Mary, Mother of God, in the form and figure in which it is now, where it is preserved in her beloved little house, in her sacred little house in Tepeyac, which is called Guadalupe.[12]

As in no other apparition of Our Lady, God has miraculously left for us her image, so that she can continue to encounter pilgrims and to lead them to her Divine Son. So, too, when pilgrims enter her church here, they see immediately her image drawing them to the altar of Christ’s sacrifice and to the tabernacle where, after the offering of the Holy Mass, He remains present in His true Body and Blood, the Heavenly Bread which is the pledge of Eternal Life.

It was not easy for Saint Juan Diego to accept the mission given him by the Mother of God. He was deeply conscious of his own personal limitations.[13] He also suffered difficult situations like the grave illness of his uncle Juan Bernardino.[14] As a result, he was led to ask Our Lady to choose another messenger, to excuse him from the mission of herald of Christ, or to grant him a delay in carrying out her will. But Our Lady simply reminded him that he had been chosen, in force of his baptism, and that he had nothing to fear, for she would be with him always to guide him to Christ, so that he could lead others to Christ. She reminded him that she had “no lack of servants, of messengers,” but that it was “necessary that [he], personally” carry out her request.[15] What is more, she reminded him that her maternal love and care will never be lacking:

Am I not here, I who have the honor to be your mother? Are you not in my shadow and under my protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?[16]

She speaks these words to us who are her messengers today, even as we read them each time we leave the church here to return to our ordinary activities.

In today’s world, even those who are personally capable and strong can feel so helpless before the culture of lies, which marks so strongly public life and has even entered into the Church. We wonder what we can do when we are not even told the truth. Our Lady of Guadalupe teaches us that there is much that we can do, making the truth of Christ the guide of our personal life and the culture of our homes, and that she will be ever at our side to lead us to Christ and to His truth. Today, let us confide ourselves once again into the all-loving arms of Our Lady, trusting that we can be her faithful messengers who rest our hearts, one with her Immaculate Heart, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, her Divine Son. Let us trust her promise to be always our mother who leads us to Christ Who alone saves us from sin and brings us to eternal life.

Today, I personally express my deepest gratitude to Our Lady of Guadalupe who held me so faithfully and securely in her arms during the time of my recent seemingly fatal illness and during the months of recovery from it. I have never doubted the love which the Mother of God has for us and for me personally, but, when I regained full consciousness after the most critical time in my illness, I was filled with the sense of her loving presence. For that reason, in particular, I am so deeply grateful to be able to offer the Pontifical Mass on her feast day in this her church in La Crosse.

In thanking Our Lady, I thank the countless faithful who implored her intercession and the intercession of Saint Joseph and so many other saints that I might be saved from death and returned to my service as Bishop and Cardinal. It is my hope to be able to greet you and thank you, in person, after the conclusion of the Holy Mass.

In a special way, I thank Father Paul Check, Executive Director, and the staff of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe here for all of the prayers and support which they have offered to me and my family over the time of my crisis of health. The Shrine is a beacon by which Our Lady draws us to Christ and to our eternal salvation. Now that God is restoring me to health, I am determined to be a more faithful, generous and pure messenger of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially through my dedication to the mission of the Shrine here.

Please continue to pray for me and for the Shrine. Be assured that you are daily in my grateful prayers.

One in heart with the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin of Guadalupe, let us now lift up our hearts to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus. Let us put aside any sense of helplessness because of our personal limitations or present circumstances of life. Let us entrust our hearts entirely into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our Lady of Guadalupe will never fail us. She will never fail to help us to live in Christ, to be always one in heart with His glorious pierced Heart.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Protector of holy Church, 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] Rev 12, 5.

[2] Rev 12, 10.

[3] Rev. 12, 1.

[4] Gen 3, 15.

[5] Lk 1, 31-33.

[6] Lk 1, 35.

[7] Lk 1, 38.

[8] Zech 2, 10. 13.

[9] Rev 12, 10.

[10] Jn 2, 5.

[11] “Sábelo, ten por cierto, hijo mío, el más pequeño, que yo soy en verdad la perfecta siempre Virgen Santa María, que tengo el honor de ser Madre del verdaderísimo Dios por quien se vive, el Creador de las personas, el Dueño de la cercanía y de la inmediación, el Dueño del cielo, el Dueño de la tierra.” “Apéndice A, El Nican Mopohua,” in Carl Anderson y Monseñor Eduardo Chávez, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Madre de la civilización del amor (México: Grijalbo, 2010), p. 214, n. 26. [NMEsp]. 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. 26. [NMEng].

[12] “Y luego extendió su blanca tilma, en cuyo hueco estaban las flores. Y al caer al suelo todas las variada flores como las de Castilla, luego allí en su tilma se convirtió en señal, se apreció de repente la Amada Imagen de la Perfecta Virgen Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, en la forma y figura en que ahore está, en donde ahora es conservada en su amada casita, en su sagrada casita en el Tepeyác, que se llama Guadalupe.” NMEsp, pp. 223-244, nn. 181-184. English translation: NMEng, p. 182, nos. 181-184.

[13] Cf NMEsp, p. 216, nn. 54-56; NMEng p. 175, nos. 54-56.

[14] Cf. NMEsp, pp. 218-219, nn. 111-116; NMEng, pp. 178-179, nos. 111-116.

[15] “… no son escasos mis servidores, mis mensajeros … es necesario che [el] personalmente…” NMEsp, p. 216, nn. 58-59. English translation: NMEng, p. 175, nos. 58-59.

[16] “¿No estoy yo aquí, yo, que tengo el honor de ser tu madre? ¿No estás bajo mi sombra y resguardo? ¿No soy yo la fuente de tu alegría? ¿No estás en el hueco de mi manto, en el cruce de mis brazos?” “El Nican Mopohua,” tr. Instituto Superior de Estudios Guadalupanos, in Carl A. Anderson y 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. 220, n. 119. [Nican Mopohua]. English translation: “The Nican Mopohua,” in Carl A. Anderson and Eduardo Chávez, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p. 179, no. 119. [Nican Mopohua Eng].