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El cardenal Burke rechazó radicalmente el cisma el 22 de julio de 2017, advirtiendo que el cisma está «siempre por completo mal»

Diez consejos del Card. Burke para superar la crisis de confusión y división en la Iglesia

El cardenal estadounidense afirma que la desorientación y el error han entrado en la Iglesia de una «manera diabólica», pero alienta a los católicos a mantenerse firmes en la fe, al mismo tiempo que valientes y serenos, sabiendo que la victoria de Cristo «ya ha sido escrita.»

Edward Pentin – 9/08/17 11:24 PM http://infocatolica.com/?t=opinion&cod=30129

Traducido por María Jesús Mesén Quirós, del equipo de traductores de InfoCatólica

En una amplia y oportuna disertación, el cardenal Raymond Burke ha buscado explicar la esencia de la profunda crisis espiritual que enfrenta la Iglesia y el mundo, y ofrecer sugerencias pastorales y palabras de motivación para que los creyentes lidien con esta.

Al hablar en la reunión del «Church Teaches Forum» (Foro La Iglesia Enseña) el pasado 22 de julio de 2017 en Louisville, Kentucky, el cardenal patrono de la Orden de Malta observó que dados los «tiempos turbulentos del mundo y de la Iglesia», la «sólida enseñanza» de la Iglesia «nunca había sido tan necesaria.»

El cardenal sostiene que el extenso ataque contra la vida de seres humanos inocentes e indefensos está llevando a una violencia sin precedentes en la vida familiar y en la sociedad.

También apuntó a otros flagelos: ideología de género, negación de la libertad religiosa y objeciones de conciencia, ateísmo materialista y relativismo. Todos han resultado en un «legítimo miedo a la confrontación global, lo que solo significa la destrucción y muerte de muchos», afirmó.

«Claramente, la presente situación mundial no continuará sin llevar a la completa aniquilación», añadió.

Aún así, «de una manera diabólica, la confusión y el error» que han emanado de los estragos de la secularización, especialmente en el Oeste, «han entrado también en la Iglesia», declaró.

El cardenal Burke, uno de los más prominentes expertos en Derecho Canónico, lamentó que la Iglesia se «está aproximando a una cultura», pero «no parece saber su propia identidad y misión», o sin tener «la claridad y el coraje de anunciar el Evangelio de la Vida y el Amor Divino a una cultura radicalmente secularizada.»

Como un ejemplo, citó las declaraciones del presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal alemana, Cardenal Reinhard Marx, quien dijo que la legalización del «matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo» en Alemania no es una preocupación de peso para la Iglesia, sino la intolerancia mostrada a aquellos que sienten este tipo de atracción. El cardenal Burke le recordó a su audiencia que la postura correcta es distinguir entre el amor por la persona y el odio que los católicos «siempre deben tener hacia los actos pecaminosos.»

También trajo a colación la vida de otro prelado alemán, el recién fallecido cardenal Joachim Meisner, quien sufrió el «incesante crecimiento de la confusión» sobre las enseñanzas de la Iglesia incluso estando dentro de ella, pero que aun así permaneció «sereno» y con la determinación de «continuar luchando por Cristo.»

El cardenal Burke notó que «por algún motivo, muchos pastores permanecen en silencio» sobre la presente crisis o «han abandonado la claridad» de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia, y por el contrario se han sumido en «la confusión y el error, los cuales son erróneamente consultados para abordar con eficacia el colapso total de la cultura cristiana.»

Posiblemente apocalíptico

El prelado recordó a un joven sacerdote que recientemente le preguntó por qué, dada la «posible naturaleza apocalíptica» del tiempo presente de la Iglesia y el mundo, y la necesidad de la enseñanza sobre fe y verdad, hay una «aparente carencia de claridad y coraje» en la jerarquía.

El cardenal Burke respondió que podía deberse al «materialismo y relativismo cultural» impregnados en la vida moderna, que «fomenta la confusión y la división en la Iglesia.» El cardenal también dijo sentirse incómodo cuando la prensa secular no ataca a la Iglesia como solía hacerlo, pues significa que la Iglesia está «fallando gravemente en dar claro y valiente testimonio al mundo y en llevarlo a su propia salvación.»

También advirtió sobre el gobierno «mundano» de la Iglesia, donde aquellos que enseñan lo que la Iglesia siempre ha enseñado son tildados de «fundamentalistas estrictos», entorpeciendo así el acercamiento pastoral deseado por el Papa Francisco. Observó también la «triste situación» de los miembros de la jerarquía que «públicamente se acusan uno al otro de agenda política y mundana, atacándose mutuamente como políticos que buscan promover una agenda política.»

Aunque no se refirió directamente a ellos, el cardenal ha recibido el embate de tales ataques, siendo el más reciente el de uno de los asesores cercanos al Papa Francisco.

Sonó también una alarma ante la falsa percepción del papado, que no debería ser tomado como «poder absoluto» y que el oficio de San Pedro «no tiene nada que ver con revolución» – como dicen algunos de los más ardientes seguidores de Francisco – lo cual es un término «primordialmente político» y mundano. Por el contrario, recordó a los presentes que la plenitud del poder del Papa y del ejercicio de su oficio es «precisamente para protegerlo del tipo de pensamiento mundano y relativista que lleva a la confusión y la división.

Recordó las palabras del Catecismo que establecen que la misión del Papa es salvaguardar la fe «en cada lapso y consolidar a sus hermanos en ella.» Afirmó que es «absurdo» pensar que el Papa Francisco puede enseñar algo distinto de sus predecesores. Hizo énfasis en que no todas las palabras del Papa Francisco son enseñanzas papales o Magisterio.

Extendiéndose en el tema, el cardenal subrayó cómo en la Edad Media la Iglesia hablaba de «dos cuerpos del Papa: el cuerpo del hombre y el cuerpo del Vicario de Cristo.» Cuando el Papa habla coloquialmente, como Francisco suele hacer, por ejemplo en el avión papal o en sus homilías matutinas, hace presente el «primer cuerpo» del hombre que es Papa. Hacer tal distinción, afirmó, no es «de ninguna manera irrespetuoso al oficio Petrino» ni tampoco lo convierte a uno en un enemigo del Papa Francisco. Por el contrario, defendió, sin hacer la distinción podríamos «fácilmente perder respeto» por el papado si creyéramos que tenemos que estar de acuerdo con todas sus opiniones personales. Tal punto de vista constituiría en una «idolatría del papado», declaró.

Hizo memoria a cómo los previos Papas han tenido gran cuidado con sus palabras. El Beato Papa Pablo VI, recalcó, «no permitía jamás la publicación de uno de sus sermones sin haber estudiado concienzudamente el texto impreso», y dijo alguna vez a un joven prelado: «soy el Vicario de Cristo en la tierra, y tengo la seria responsabilidad de asegurar que ninguna palabra mía pueda interpretarse de manera distinta a las enseñanzas de la Iglesia.»

Declaraciones papales

Cualquier declaración del Papa Francisco, dijo el cardenal Burke, debe entenderse «en el contexto de la constante enseñanza y práctica de la Iglesia» para que no cause confusión y división, que podrían provocar «gran daño» a las almas y a la evangelización. Citó las palabras de San Pablo (Gál. 1, 6-10) que si «alguien les predica un Evangelio distinto al que han recibido, declárenlo anatema.»

Citando las escandalosas palabras del superior general de los Jesuitas, quien dijo que no se puede saber lo que Cristo verdaderamente dijo porque sus palabras no fueron grabadas, el cardenal Burke notó una incorrecta y «ampliamente distribuida apostasía» en la Iglesia, contra la cual nuestra Señora de Fátima nos había advertido.

El triunfo del Inmaculado Corazón nos enseña la «correcta relación con Dios y con otros», afirmó, y recordó la parábola completa de la oveja perdida: que el pastor «no permite que permanezca extraviada, sino que la pone en sus hombros para traerla de vuelta al redil.»

El cardenal Burke cerró su discurso reflexionando sobre lo que se puede hacer en estos «tiempos particularmente difíciles» que «realísticamente parecen apocalípticos.»

Enfatizando que las enseñanzas de Cristo no cambian, proveyó diez maneras de lidiar con la crisis:

  1. Estudiar el Catecismo con más atención y estar preparado para defender las enseñanzas de la Iglesia.
  2. Tener presentes los «muchos signos edificantes» de la fidelidad de Cristo en los «muchos buenos y fielmente creyentes sacerdotes y obispos.
  3. Recurrir a la Bendita Virgen María, imitar la unión de su corazón con el de Jesús.
  4. Invocar frecuentemente, en el transcurso del día, la intercesión de San Miguel Arcángel, ya que hay «definitivamente una acción diabólica en la creciente extensión de la confusión, la división y el error dentro de la Iglesia.»
  5. Orar diariamente a San José para que proteja a la Iglesia de la «confusión y la división, que son siempre obra de Satanás.»
  6. Orar a los grandes y santos Papas que guiaron a la Iglesia en tiempos difíciles.
  7. Orar por los cardenales de la Iglesia para que alcancen «particular claridad y coraje.»
  8. Permanecer serenos, sabiendo que nuestra confianza está en Cristo, que las «puertas del infierno» no prevalecerán contra la Iglesia, y evitar la «desesperación mundana» que es expresada en formas «agresivas y poco caritativas.»
  9. Estar preparados para «aceptar ridiculización, incomprensión, persecución, exilio y hasta la muerte» por permanecer uno con Cristo en la Iglesia, siguiendo el ejemplo de San Atanasio y otros grandes santos.
  10. Salvaguardar con amor al Papa Francisco orando fervientemente por él y buscando la intercesión del mismo San Pedro en su favor.

El cardenal Burke advirtió que el cisma es una «forma mundana de pensar» que está «siempre por completo mal».

Concluyó su discurso argumentando que aunque puede que nos encontremos al final de los tiempos «no debemos preocuparnos» por esto, sino «permanecer fieles, generosos y valientes» en el servicio a Cristo, sabiendo que su victoria ya ha sido escrita.

Con la ayuda de la Bendita Virgen, afirmó, «escribiremos con Cristo nuestros intervinientes capítulos con nuestra fidelidad, coraje y generosidad como Sus verdaderos colaboradores, como verdaderos soldados de Cristo.»

«Nos queda a nosotros ser los buenos y fieles sirvientes que esperan para abrir la puerta a su Señor y Su venida.»

Edward Pentin

Traducido por María Jesús Mesén Quirós, del equipo de traductores de InfoCatólica

Publicado originalmente en el NCRegister

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal-burkes-10-ways-to-overcome-confusion-division-in-the-church

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Texto completo de la conferencia de Burke del 22 de julio de 2017

Developing Lives of Peace after the Heart of Mary

32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World” Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky 22 July 2017

https://es.scribd.com/document/355803615/Cardinal-Raymond-Burke-Developing-Lives-of-Peace-after-the-Heart-of-Mary#from_embed

Recently, I participated in a three-day conference on the Sacred Liturgy in which many good young priests also participated. There were several occasions to visit with them about their priestly ministry. As is my experience in most places that I visit, the priests expressed a great concern about the situation in which the world and the Church find themselves. It is a situation which can most simply be described as confusion, division and error. Toward the end of the conference, one young pastor approached me and asked: “Cardinal, do you think that we are in the end times?” The expression on his face made clear the sincerity of his question and the profound concern which prompted it. I did not hesitate to respond: “It may be so”. 

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 the June 30th 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.1 [1 Cf. http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfrm?storyid=32128. “Interview: Kardinal Marx,empfinden Sie die ‘Ehe für alle’,” Augsburger Allgemeine, 14. Juli 2017. ] 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.

Pope Benedict XVI in his greeting on the occasion of the Funeral Mass for Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Emeritus Archbishop of Cologne in Germany, made reference to the general situation of the Church in relationship to the culture. Having had the privilege to know Cardinal Meisner somewhat well and to work with him in the defense of the Church’s teaching on Holy Matrimony, Holy Communion and the moral law, I know how much he suffered from the ever-increasing confusion a bout the Church’s teaching within the Church herself. Clearly, he had expressed the same concerns to Pope Benedict XVI, concerns which seemingly were mutual, while at the same time he reaffirmed, as our faith teaches us to do, His trust in Our Lord Who has promised to remain with His Mystical Body “all days, even to the consummation of the world”. 2 [2 Mt 28, 20.]

Regarding Cardinal Meisner’s abiding pastoral concerns, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: 

We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.
3 [3 “Wir wissen, dass es ihm, dem leidenschaftlichen Hirten und Seelsorger, schwerfiel, sein Amt zu lassen und dies gerade in einer Zeit, in der die Kirche besonders dringend überzeugender Hirten bedarf, die der Diktatur des Zeitgeistes widerstehen und ganz entschieden aus dem Glauben leben und denken. Aber um so mehr hat es mich bewegt, dass er in dieser letzten Periode seines Lebens loszulassen gelernt hat und immer mehr aus der tiefen Gewissheit lebte, dass der Herr sein Kirche nicht verlässt, auch wenn manchmal das Boot schon fast zum Kentern angefültt ist.”
 newsdesk@erzbistum-koeln.de. English translation by author.] 

When I last spoke with Cardinal Meisner in Cologne on March 4th of this year, he was serene, but, at the same time, he expressed his determination to continue to fight for Christ and for the truths which He teaches us, in an unbroken line, through the Apostolic Tradition.

Cardinal Meisner’s fidelity to his office of shepherd of the flock, even when he was no longer the Archbishop of Cologne, was a tremendous source of strength for many other shepherds in the Church who are struggling each day to lead the flock in the way of Christ. 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 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.

Coupled with the interest of the enemies of the Church in praising and promoting confusion and error within the Church is also 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 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 to advance a political agenda.

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.” 4 [4  Lumen Gentium, n. 22.] 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 5 [5 Cf. Mt 16, 13-20.] 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. 6 [6 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 552].

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. 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 Saint 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. Some months ago, I was speaking with a Cardinal who, as a young prelate, had worked closely with Blessed Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI was a gifted preacher who often spoke without a prepared text. These sermons were later transcribed for publication, but 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 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 Christi ans 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. 7 [7 Gal 1, 6-10.]

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. 8 [8 Cf. Mt 19, 9.] 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 months 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.

Observing the centennial of 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 relat ionship 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. 9 [9 Cf. Lk 15, 1-7]. 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 sin. 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. 10 [10 Lk 15, 7].

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”, 11 [11 2 Pet 3, 13.] to welcome the faithful to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. 12 [12 Rev 19, 9.] 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 The Church Teaches Forum provides a most important service to us all 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 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”. 13 [13 Jn 2, 5] 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 east 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.” 14 [14 Eph 6, 12.] 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”. 15 [15 Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel].

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.” 16 [16  Lumen Gentium, n. 22]. 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). 

Having 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. 17 [17 Mt 16, 18.] 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”. 18 [18 Lk 17, 10].

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. 19 [19 2 Tim 4, 7-8]

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. 20 [20 Cf. Col 1, 24-29].

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. 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.

To conclude, in my response to the young priest who expressed concern that we may be living in the end times, after saying that it may be so, 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. 21 [21 Cf. Lk 12, 35-38].

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 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.
22 [22 “Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix; nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.” 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]]

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.
23 [23 “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.]

 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.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE