Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of 2024 at Thomas Aquinas College

The Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary: May We “Imitate What They Contain and Obtain What They Promise”

Divine Mercy Sunday Reflection

Synodality versus True Identity of the Church as Hierarchical Communion

Notification to Christ’s Faithful (can. 212 § 3) Regarding Dubia Submitted to Pope Francis

Appeal for Prayer for the Armenian People

Discipline and Doctrine: Law in the Service of Truth and Love

Message to the Faithful Priests of the Church in Germany

Death of Cardinal George Pell

Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Purity of Heart and the Holy Family

Advent and the Door of our Hearts

The Exaltation of the Cross

Purity of Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha’s Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Purity of Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mary the Mirror of Justice

Purity of Heart

Advent and Apocalypse

Christ and the Church: Triumphant, Suffering and Militant

Presentation list

Keeping the Catholic Faith in Times of Great Turmoil in the Church

25th Anniversary
CREDO of the Catholic Laity
Frontenac Hilton Ambassador Ballroom
Saint Louis, Missouri

It is a source of great joy for me to celebrate with you the 25th Anniversary of CREDO of the Catholic Laity. Your devotion to Sacred Tradition is nothing other than devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ Who faithfully and generously comes to us in the Church through the unbroken Apostolic succession, through the Church’s teaching, through her Sacred Liturgy, and through her canonical discipline. For that reason, I was always grateful for your apostolate in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and am grateful to be with you on this most happy occasion. I thank, in a particular way, Dr. Helen Gelhot for all that she has done to make the arrangements for my time with you.

Your apostolate assists individual members of the faithful to fulfill their right and responsibility described in the three sections of can. 212 of the Code of Canon Law. I now cite it for you in its entirety:

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.
§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Catholic faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.[1]

The canon makes clear that the faithful, especially the faithful who may have a greater responsibility because of their knowledge and competence, and because of the esteem in which they are held in the Church, not only have the right but indeed the duty to be concerned about the life of the Church and to express their concerns to those entrusted with the governance of the Church, the “sacred pastors,” in the language of the Code of Canon Law, that is, the Roman Pontiff as the Successor of Saint Peter in the office of the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Bishops as the Successors of the Apostles, and the priests as the principal co-workers of the Bishops, sharing with them the grace of Ordination to the Holy Priesthood. The right and duty is fundamental.

The canon indicates the conditions which must mark the fulfillment of the responsibility of the faithful. The first condition is Christian obedience to their pastors in what pertains to Church doctrine and discipline, in other words, all in the Church, faithful and pastors, are bound by obedience to Christ and thus by the rule of faith (regula fidei) and the rule of law (regula iuris). Thus, if a pastor teaches and commands something that is not part of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, for example, if he teaches that the faithful are bound by the theological virtue of charity to receive a certain vaccine, then the faithful, while duly respecting his person as pastor, are not bound by his teaching or command.

It will be helpful to illustrate the true sense of obedience by addressing a current situation in the Church, which regards obedience to the Roman Pontiff. The enemies of the Church are happy not only to praise and promote confusion and error within the Church but also to advance a worldly political reading of the governance of the Church. For the architects of a secular and politicized Church, those who present what the Church has always taught and practiced are now the enemies of the Pope. Doctrine and discipline, which together with Sacred Worship, are the essential gifts of Christ to us in the Church – indeed the gift of His very Self – are now viewed as the tools of supposed rigid fundamentalists who are trying to hinder the pastoral care of the faithful, as it is desired by Pope Francis. We even witness the sad situation of members of the hierarchy publicly accusing one another of a political and mundane agenda, as politicians attack one another.

In this regard, the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) essential to the exercise of the office of the Successor of Saint Peter is falsely portrayed as absolute power, thus betraying the Primacy of the Successor of Saint Peter who is the first among us in obedience to Christ alive for us in the Church through the Apostolic Tradition. Secular voices promote the image of the Pope as a reformer who is a revolutionary, that is, as one who undertakes the reform of the Church by breaking from the Tradition, the rule of the faith (regula fidei) and the corresponding rule of law (regula iuris). But the office of Saint Peter has nothing to do with revolution, which is primarily a political and mundane term. As the Second Vatican Council taught, the Successor of Peter “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”[2] The fullness of power, the unhindered exercise of the office of the Roman Pontiff, is precisely to protect him from the kind of worldly and relativist thought which leads to confusion and division. It also enables him to announce and defend the faith in its integrity. Describing what has become known as “the power of the keys,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that it is founded on Saint Peter’s confession of Our Lord as God the Son Incarnate for our eternal salvation[3] and declares:

Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.[4]

Thus, it is absurd to think that Pope Francis can teach something which is not in accord with what his predecessors, for example Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Saint John Paul II, have solemnly taught.

Regarding the frequent statements of Pope Francis, there has developed a popular understanding that every statement of the Holy Father must be accepted as papal teaching or magisterium and, therefore, must be obeyed. The mass media has certainly wanted to pick and choose among the declarations of Pope Francis, in order to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is undergoing a revolution and is changing radically its teaching on certain key questions of faith and especially of morals. The matter is complicated because Pope Francis regularly chooses to speak in a colloquial manner, whether during interviews given on airplanes or to news outlets, or in spontaneous remarks to various groups. Such being the case, when one places his remarks within the proper context of the teaching and practice of the Church, he may be accused of speaking against the Holy Father. I recall one of the eminent Fathers of the Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops, held during October of 2014, approaching me during a break to say: “What is going on? Those of us who are upholding what the Church has always taught and practiced are now called enemies of the Pope?” As a result, one is tempted to remain silent or to try to explain doctrinally a language which confuses or even contradicts doctrine.

The way in which I have come to understand the duty to correct the popular understanding regarding Church teaching and the declarations of the Pope is to distinguish, as the Church has always done, the words of the man who is Pope and the words of the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth. In the Middle Ages, the Church spoke of the two bodies of the Pope: the body of the man and the body of the Vicar of Christ. In fact, the traditional Papal vesture, especially the red mozzetta with the stole depicting the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, visibly represents the true body of the Pope when he is setting forth the teaching of the Church.

In recent times, the Church has not been accustomed to a Roman Pontiff who speaks publicly in a colloquial manner. In fact, great care has always been taken, so that any published words of the Pope be clearly in accord with the Magisterium. A Cardinal who, as a young prelate, had worked closely with Blessed Pope Paul VI related to me that Pope Paul VI, who was a gifted preacher who often spoke without a prepared text, always insisted on the careful editing of any transcription of his preaching. Pope Paul VI would never permit the publication of one of his sermons without thoroughly studying the printed text. As he told the young prelate, I am the Vicar of Christ on earth, and I have a most serious responsibility to make certain that no word of mine could be interpreted in a way contrary to Church teaching.

Pope Francis has chosen to speak often in his first body, the body of the man who is Pope. In fact, even in documents which, in the past, have represented more solemn teaching, he states clearly that he is not offering magisterial teaching but his own thinking. But those who are accustomed to a different manner of Papal speaking want to make his every statement somehow part of the Magisterium. To do so is contrary to reason and to what the Church has always understood. It is simply wrong and harmful to the Church to receive every declaration of the Holy Father as an expression of papal teaching or magisterium.

Making the distinction between the two types of discourse of the Roman Pontiff is, in no way, disrespectful of the Petrine Office. Much less, does it constitute disobedience to the Holy Father, much less enmity of Pope Francis. In fact, to the contrary, it shows ultimate respect for the Petrine Office and for the man to whom Our Lord has entrusted it. Without the distinction, we would easily lose respect for the Papacy or be led to think that, if we do not agree with the personal opinions of the man who is Roman Pontiff, then we must break communion with the Church.

In any case, any declaration of the Roman Pontiff must be understood within the context of the constant teaching and practice of the Church, lest confusion and division about the teaching and practice of the Church enter into her body to the great harm of souls and to the great harm of the evangelization of the world. Recall the words of Saint Paul at the beginning of the Letter to the Galatians, a community of early Christians into which a grave confusion and division had entered. As a good shepherd of the flock, Saint Paul wrote the following words to address the most worrisome situation:

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ, changing to another gospel; which is not another gospel, except in this respect that there are some who trouble you, and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let him be anathema! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I should not be a servant of Christ.[5]

While maintaining firmly the Catholic faith in what pertains to the Petrine Office, we cannot fall into an idolatry of the papacy which would make every word spoken by the Pope to be doctrine, even if it is construed to be contrary to the very word of Christ, for example, regarding the indissolubility of marriage.[6] Rather, with the Successor of Peter, we should strive to understand more and more fully the word of Christ, in order to live it more and more perfectly.

Shockingly, some time ago, the Superior General of the Jesuits suggested that we cannot know what Christ really said about any given matter, since we do not have tape-recordings of his discourses. Apart from the absurdity of his statement, it gives the impression that there is no longer a constant teaching and practice of the faith as it has come down to us, in an unbroken line, from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

Likewise, it is not a question of a legitimate so-called “pluralism” in the Church, that is, of a legitimate difference of theological opinion. The faithful are not free to follow theological opinions which contradict the doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, and confirmed by the ordinary Magisterium, even if these opinions are finding a wide hearing in the Church and are not being corrected by the Church’s pastors as the pastors are obliged to do.

The example regarding the Roman Pontiff applies, mutatis mutandis, to the obedience which we owe to our Bishop and to our parish priest. The faithful, in fact, are responsible to assist their pastors in safeguarding and fostering the holiness of the Church – that is the adherence of all to the rule of the faith and the rule of the law – by making known their concerns about matters pertaining to the good of the Church. The conditions for the exercise of the responsibility are: 1) the integrity of faith and morals; 2) reverence for the office of pastor – making the necessary distinction between the man and the priest acting in the person of Christ Head and Shepherd of the flock at every time and in every place; and 3) respect for what is helpful and what respects the dignity of both pastors and other faithful. For instance, the recent declaration by Catholic legislators, admonishing the Bishops of our country for insisting on the application of can. 915, regarding the non-admission to Holy Communion of those upon whom the penalties of interdict or excommunication have been imposed or declared, and of those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin, is not a legitimate exercise of their responsibility, for their statement contradicts the integrity of faith and morals.

Regarding respect for the office of pastor, a situation like the present, if the proper distinctions are not made, risks the loss of respect for the office of Roman Pontiff, Diocesan Bishop and Parish Priest. Any exercise of the responsibility to make known ecclesial concerns to the Church’s pastor must be marked by the serenity and charity of those who believe that Christ is alive for us in the Church, as He promised before ascending to the right hand of the Father, and that he will never abandon us. I recall the words of Our Lord before His Ascension to the right hand of the Father:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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; and behold I am with you always, to the close of the age.[7]

We must reflect upon these words of Our Lord frequently.

Satan, who does not sleep, is clever beyond all our imagination. He is so clever that he uses something as good and holy as our love for the Church to lead us to the loss of serenity before the challenges which she faces and to give way to behavior – attitudes, speech and conduct – which betrays a loss of respect for pastoral authority. Such a loss of serenity, leading to a blurred vision which undermines respect for the pastoral office, hinders us from truly fulfilling our responsibility and turns our efforts which were first inspired for the good of the Church into acts of conflict and division contrary to the nature of the Mystical Body of Christ in which each member bears the burdens of his brothers and sisters.

It is helpful to recall the words of Saint Paul to the early Christians of Galatia:

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.[8]

It is understandable that the failures of our pastors provoke a particularly strong response of anger in us. On the other hands, there are those who would tell us that we should not react at all in the face of such failures, as tolerance demands. In fact, charity alone must be the interpretative key of our thoughts and actions. In the context of charity, tolerance means unconditional love of the person who is involved in evil but firm abhorrence of the evil into which the person has fallen, in the words of Saint Augustine: “with love for mankind and hatred of sins.”[9]

Drawn close to the Mother of God who unfailingly takes us to her Divine Son, we must remain serene because of our faith in Christ who will not permit the “gates of hell” to prevail against His Church.[10] Serenity does not mean that we ignore or deny the gravity of the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves. It means rather that we are fully conscious of the seriousness of the situation, while, at the same time, we address all of the needs of the world and the Church to Christ our Savior through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, and the whole company of the saints.

Serenity means that we do not give way to a worldly desperation which expresses itself in aggressive and uncharitable ways. Our confidence is in Christ. Yes, we must do all within our power to defend our Catholic faith in any circumstance in which it is under attack, but we know that the victory belongs ultimately and solely to Christ. Thus, when we have done all that we can do, we are at peace, even if we recognize that we remain “unprofitable servants.”[11]

There can be no place in our thinking or acting for schism which is always and everywhere wrong. We should be ready to accept whatever suffering may come for the sake of Christ and His Mystical Body, our holy Mother Church. Like Saint Athanasius and the other great saints who defended the faith in times of severe trial in the Church, we should be ready to accept ridicule, misunderstanding, persecution, exile and even death, in order to remain one with Christ in the Church under the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us pray that at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, we will be able to say with Saint Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me in that day; yet not to me only, but also to those who love his coming.[12]

Schism is the fruit of a worldly way of thinking, of thinking that the Church is in our hands, instead of in the hands of Christ. The Church in our time has great need of the purification of any kind of worldly thinking. Rather, with Saint Paul who suffered so greatly for the preaching of the faith to all the nations, we should rejoice to fill out in our bodies the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Bride, the Church.[13]

Given the particular nature of the trials of the Church in our time, we must safeguard especially our faith in the Petrine Office and our love for the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis. There can be no place in our thinking for sedevacantism, the belief that the present Roman Pontiff does not validly occupy the See of Peter because of the doctrinal and disciplinary errors, associated with the heresy of Modernism, which have entered into the Church and which he permits to continue. There are different sedevacantist positions regarding when the See of Peter became vacant. The most common position is that See of Peter became vacant with the death of the Venerable Pope Pius XII. In any case, the position constitutes a denial of the truth of Christ’s promise, in that, according to sedevacantism, Christ has left His Mystical Body without a supreme shepherd. But Our Lord has constituted His Church on the firm foundation of Saint Peter and his successors. The ministry of Saint Peter is essential to the life of the Church. Let us daily renew our faith in the Church and in the divinely-given office of the Roman Pontiff, and let us pray fervently for the Roman Pontiff that he may serve Christ with all obedience and with all generosity.

Respect for the Petrine Office and the present Roman Pontiff does not constitute a denial of serious doctrinal and disciplinary defects in the life of the Church, defects which it is the solemn responsibility of the Roman Pontiff to address. One of the most difficult aspects of our faith is the acceptance of the permissive will of God. Because of our love of the Church, we ask why Our Lord permits her to suffer from serious errors regarding faith and morals. But we do not, in a worldly way, take matters into our own hands, deciding that Christ is no longer shepherding His Church throughout the world, that is, assuming the erroneous position of sedevacantism.

Some time ago, a young priest expressed concern that we may be living in the end times. I responded that it may be so, but I continued by saying that it is not for us to worry whether these times are apocalyptic or not, but to remain faithful, generous and courageous in serving Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church. For we know that the final chapter of the story of these times is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ over sin and its most deadly fruit, eternal death. It remains for us to write, with Christ, the intervening chapters by our fidelity, courage and generosity as His true co-workers, as true soldiers of Christ. It remains for us to be the good and faithful servants who await to open the door for the Master at His Coming.[14]

There is no question that we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis in the life of the Church. Yes, the Church has suffered great turmoil and tumult in the past, for example, the Arian crisis during which a great number of the pastors and faithful denied the two natures in the one Divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Rome, however, even if at times suffering from weakness, always, in the end, held to the truths of the faith and morals. In the present moment in the Church, the See of Peter itself seems confused and unwilling to correct open violations of faith and morals. In a diabolical way, the crisis which has rendered the Church exceedingly weak comes precisely at a time when the secular culture which has abandoned not only the Christian faith but reason herself most needs the Church to teach clearly and strongly the truth written upon the human heart and in nature itself, from the Creation, and revealed in its fullness through the Redemptive Incarnation.

We are living in most troubled times in the world and also in the Church. Secularization has ravaged the culture of many nations, especially in the West, alienating culture from its only true source in God and His plan for us and our world. There is the daily and widespread attack on innocent and defenseless human life with the resulting unprecedented violence in family life and in society, in general. There is the ever more virulent gender ideology which propagates total confusion about our identity as male and female, and leads to the profound unhappiness and even self-destruction of many in society. There is also the denial of the freedom of religion which attempts to hinder, if not snuff out completely, any public discourse about God and our necessary relationship with Him. With the denial of the freedom of religion comes the attempt to force God-fearing individuals to act against their well-formed conscience, that is, against God’s law written upon the human heart. In supposedly free countries, the government forces upon society practices of abortion, sterilization, contraception, euthanasia, and lack of respect for human sexuality, even to the point of indoctrinating small children in the iniquitous “gender theory.”

At the same time, atheistic materialism and relativism leads to the unscrupulous pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power, while the rule of law, dictated by justice, is trampled underfoot. In such a pervasively disordered cultural condition, there is legitimate fear of a global confrontation which can only mean destruction and death for many. Clearly, the present situation of the world cannot continue without leading to total annihilation.

The world has never needed more the solid teaching and direction which Our Lord, in His immeasurable and unceasing love of man, wishes to give to the world through His Church and especially through her pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. But, in a diabolical way, the confusion and error which has led human culture in the way of death and destruction has also entered into the Church, so that she draws near to the culture without seeming to know her own identity and mission, without seeming to have the clarity and the courage to announce the Gospel of Life and Divine Love to the radically secularized culture. For example, after a decision of the German Parliament to accept so-called “same-sex marriage,” the President of Conference of Bishops in Germany declared that the decision was not a major concern for the Church which, according to him, should be more concerned about intolerance towards persons suffering from same-sex attraction.[15] Clearly, in such an approach, there is no longer the just and necessary distinction between the love which we as Christians must always have for the person involved in sin and the hatred which we also must always have for sinful acts.

For whatever reason, many shepherds are silent about the situation in which the Church finds herself or have abandoned the clarity of the Church’s teaching for the confusion and error which is wrongly thought to address more effectively the total collapse of Christian culture. The young pastor who, some time ago, asked me the question about the possibly apocalyptic nature of the present time in the Church and in the world spoke from an experience of ever greater challenges in teaching the truths of the faith with integrity, while witnessing a seeming lack of clarity and courage on the part of higher ecclesial authority.

In fact, the totally materialist and relativist culture, embraced and powerfully supported by the secular means of communication and the political lobbying of wealthy secularists, encourages the confusion and division in the Church. Some time ago, a Cardinal in Rome commented on how good it is that the secular media are no longer attacking the Church, as they did so fiercely during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. My response was that the approval of the secular media is, on the contrary, for me a sign that the Church is failing badly in her clear and courageous witness to the world for the salvation of the world.

Recalling the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we must recall how her Message or, as it is sometimes called, her Secret, is principally meant to address a widespread apostasy in the Church and the failure of the Church’s shepherds to correct it. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, first and foremost, the triumph of the Faith which teaches us what is our right relationship with God and with others.

Surely, Christ the Good Shepherd demands that those ordained to act in His person on behalf of the whole flock go in search of the lost sheep.[16] But when the good shepherd finds the lost sheep, he does not leave it in its lost condition but takes it upon his shoulders to bring it back to the fold. The true shepherd of the flock, conformed to Christ the Good Shepherd sacramentally and striving to grow ever more faithfully in the priestly identity, is a good father who seeks out the wandering or lost son or daughter, in order to bring him or her back to the fold, to Christ Who alone saves us from our sins. Referring to the joy of the shepherd who has brought home the lost sheep, Our Lord concludes the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the words:

And when he has found it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing. And on coming home he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.” I say to you that, even so, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance.[17]

What then must be our response to the exceedingly difficult times in which we are living, times which realistically seem to be apocalyptic? It must be the response of faith, of faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is alive for us in the Church and Who never fails to teach, sanctify and guide us in the Church, even as He professed to remain with us always until His return on the Last Day to inaugurate “new heavens and a new earth,”[18] to welcome the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.[19] We know what Christ teaches us in the Church. It is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the official teaching of the Church. His teaching does not change. In the midst of the present confusion and division, we must study more attentively the teachings of the faith contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and be prepared to defend those teachings against any falsehood which would erode the faith and thus the unity of the Church.

At the same time, in our anguish over the many troubling manifestations of confusion, division and error in the Church, we must not fail to recognize also the many edifying signs of fidelity to Christ in the Church. I think of so many good Catholic homes in which knowledge, love and service of Christ is the center of life. I think of the many good and steadfast faithful, priests and Bishops who live the faith and give an account of it by their daily living. In the troubled times through which we are passing it is important that good and faithful Catholics gather to deepen their faith and to encourage one another. Please permit me to observe that CREDO of the Catholic Laity provides a most important service in the Church, especially at a time when the Church is in crisis.

In order to remain completely united to Christ, in order to be one in heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we must go to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, in order to imitate the oneness of her Immaculate Heart with the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus and in order to seek her maternal intercession. The final words of the Virgin Mother of the Redeemer recorded in the Gospels are the words she spoke to the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana who came to her in anguish over the lack of sufficient wine for the guests of the newlyweds. She responded to them and their situation of great distress by leading them to her Divine Son, also a guest at the Wedding Feast, and instructing them: “Do whatever he tells you.”[20] These simple words express the mystery of the Divine Maternity by which the Virgin Mary became the Mother of God, bringing God the Son Incarnate into the world. By the same mystery, she continues to be the channel of all the graces which immeasurably and unceasingly pour forth from Her Divine Son’s glorious pierced Heart into the hearts of His faithful brothers and sisters on earthly pilgrimage to their lasting home with Him in Heaven. No less than she did for the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana, our Blessed Mother will draw us always closer to Christ Who alone brings us peace in the midst of our trials.

Invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we must also invoke frequently throughout the day the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel. There is no question that the Church is in the midst of a particularly fierce time of battle against the forces of evil, against Satan and his cohorts. There is a definitely diabolical involvement in the ever spreading confusion, division and error within the Church. As Saint Paul reminded us in the Letter to the Ephesians, “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.”[21] Saint Michael is our defender in the battle, he is our “safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil” who does not sleep as he “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”[22]

Our Blessed Mother also makes us conscious of our communion with all the saints and, in a particular way, with her most chaste spouse and the foster-father of her Divine Son, Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is the patron of the universal Church. We should pray to him daily for the peace of the Church, for her protection against all forms of confusion and division which are always the work of Satan. Not without reason, one of the titles of Saint Joseph is “Terror of Demons.” As a good father, he will intercede for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our Blessed Mother will likewise lead us to seek the intercession of Saint Peter for his successor, Pope Francis, in order that he know how best to address the grievous situation of the world and the Church, faithfully teaching the word of Christ and addressing it in the loving and firm way of a true spiritual father to the situation of the world today. We should also invoke the intercession of the great pope saints who guided the Church in difficult times with heroic sanctity. I think of Pope Saint Leo the Great, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Saint Gregory VII, Pope Saint Pius V, Pope Saint Pius X, and Pope Saint John Paul II.

In a particular way, we should pray for the Cardinals of the Church, who are the principal counselors of the Roman Pontiff, that they be of true assistance to the Holy Father in exercising his office as “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”[23] In such times, the service of the Cardinals requires of them a particular clarity and courage, and a willingness to accept whatever suffering is required in order to be faithful to Christ and His Church, “even to the outpouring of their blood” (“usque ad effusionem sanguinis”).

It is my hope that these reflections are helpful to you in living your Catholic faith as fully and perfectly as possible in these most troubled times. In a particular way, it is my hope that they will help you to keep the Catholic faith, to remain firm in the faith in your individual lives and to encourage others to do the same. May you live lives of peace after the Immaculate Heart of Mary, under which God the Son took a human heart, in order to win peace for our hearts always. Let us make our own the oldest preserved extant hymn to the Virgin Mother of God, found already on an Egyptian papyrus of the 3rd century:

We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.[24]

Similarly, let us pray in the words of the ancient hymn for Vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ave Maris Stella:

Show thyself a mother; may the Word divine, born for us thine Infant, hear our prayers through thine.[25]

Let us never doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Divine Grace, will lead us to her Divine Son, in order that our hearts, one with her Immaculate Heart, may rest always in His Heart, the only source of our salvation. So we will find peace. We will know, love and serve Christ in our daily living.

Thank you for your kind attention. Please pray for me. May God bless you, your homes, and all your labors, especially the labors of CREDO of the Catholic Laity.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] “Can. 212 §1. Quae sacri Pastores, utpote Christum repraesentantes, tamquam fidei magistri declarant aut tamquam Ecclesiae rectors statuunt, christifideles, propriae responsabilitatis conscii, christiana oboedientia prosequi tenentur.

§2. Christifidelibus integrum est, ut necessitates suas, praesertim spirituales, suaque optata Ecclesiae Pastoribus patefaciant.

§3. Pro scientia, competentia et praestantia quibus pollent, ipsis ius est, immo et aliquando officium, ut sententiam suam de his quae ad bonum Ecclesiae pertinent sacris Pastoribus manifestent eamque, salva fidei morumque integritate ac reverentia erga Pastores, attentisque communi utilitate et personarum dignitate, ceteris christifidelibus notam facient.” English translation: Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition, New English translation, tr. Canon Law Society of America, 3rd printing (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 2020), p. 57.

[2] Lumen Gentium, n. 22.

[3] Cf. Mt 16, 13-20.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 552.

[5] Gal 1, 6-10.

[6] Cf. Mt 19, 9.

[7] Mt 28, 18-20

[8] Gal 6, 1-2.

[9] “… cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.” “Epistula 211, 11,” Alois Goldbacher, ed., AUGUSTINUS, Epistulae 185-279, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, vol. 57 (Wien: F. Tempsky, 1911), p. 365. English translation: The Works of Saint Augustine, Letters 211-270, Vol. II, 4, tr. Roland Teske, ed. Boniface Ramsey (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2005), p. 25.

[10] Mt 16, 18.

[11] Lk 17, 10.

[12] 2 Tim 4, 7-8.

[13] Cf. Col 1, 24-29.

[14] Cf. Lk 12, 35-38.

[15] Cf. “Interview: Kardinal Marx, empfinden Sie die ‘Ehe für alle’,” Augsburger Allgemeine, 14. Juli 2017.

[16] Cf. Lk 15, 1-7.

[17] Lk 15, 7.

[18] 2 Pet 3, 13.

[19] Rev 19, 9.

[20] Jn 2, 5.

[21] Eph 6, 12.

[22] Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.

[23] Lumen Gentium, n. 22.

[24] “Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix; nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedica.” Enchiridion Indulgentiarum. Normae et concessiones, ed. 4ª (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1999), p. 65, n. 17. [EnchInd]. English translation: Manual of Indulgences. Norms and Grants, translated into English from the fourth edition (1999) (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006), p. 62, no. 17. [EnchIndEng].

[25] “Monstra te esse matrem, sumat per te preces qui pro nobis natus tulit esse tuus.” The Raccolta or A Manual of Indulgences. Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences, tr. Joseph P. Christopher, Charles E. Spence and John F. Rowan (New York: Benziger Brothers, Inc., 1957), pp. 222-223, no. 321.