Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Excerpts from Archbishop Burke's Homily at the Fota Liturgical Conference

The NLM is pleased to present the following lengthy excerpt from the homily of Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, which was given at the Solemn Pontifical Mass offered on July 11th, 2010, at the church of Ss. Peter and Paul, Cork, Ireland, as part of the Fota Liturgical Conference.

The excerpt in question relays to you the Archbishop's most concentrated reflections on the sacred liturgy.


In a most wonderful way, participation in the Holy Mass, the encounter with the glorious Risen Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, opens our eyes to know ourselves and our neighbor by the fruits which our daily life is bearing, and, by God’s grace, to draw away from sin and to embrace the obedience of faith with its fruits of love and eternal life. The Sacred Liturgy and, above all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the source and summit of our life in Christ. In the holiness of Christ, which we encounter in the action of the Holy Mass, we receive the inspiration and strength to be holy in every aspect of our lives, even as He is holy. In a particular way, we understand the essential relationship of the confession of our sins and the reception of absolution in the Sacrament of Penance with our full participation in the Holy Mass. Uniting our hearts to the Heart of Jesus in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, we understand the realism of his command regarding our daily living: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass opens our minds and heart to recognize the great Mystery of Faith, made present in every celebration of the Holy Mass. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, by his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which was promulgated three years ago, on July 7th of 2007, has desired that the two expressions of the one Roman Rite in the Church, that is, the Roman Missal of Blessed John XIII and the Roman Missal of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, should mutually enrich one another for the sake of a greater holiness of life among all the faithful and for the sake of drawing to Christ those who do not yet believe in Him Whose glorious presence with us in the Church appears most fully in the Sacred Liturgy, above all, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In his Letter to the Bishops, at the time of the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI underlined the organic unity of the two expressions of the Roman Rite, with these words:

"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

In establishing the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum as the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass in the Roman Rite, the Holy Father has desired that all of us come to know more completely the one Mystery of Faith, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Heaven, made present at the Consecration in every valid celebration of the Holy Mass.

How timely is the reform of the Sacred Liturgy, which our Holy Father is guiding and directing! We live in an age which grows ever more forgetful of God and of His plan for our freedom, for our eternal salvation. We live in an age, when many are no longer able to distinguish the good fruits of a holy life from the evil fruits born of slavery to sin. The confusion and error is so pervasive that it has even entered into the life of the Church and threatened the highest and most perfect expression of her life, the Sacred Liturgy, the public worship of God. The situation was already so grave in 1972 that the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, in his homily for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, was led to declare that he sensed that “through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”1 The reform of the Sacred Liturgy, especially through the mutual enrichment coming from the celebration of the two forms of the Roman Rite, will purify our worship of anything that is unworthy, of anything which is worship of ourselves, rather than worship of God, and will, therefore, bear fruit in a greater holiness of life. The Sacred Liturgy will not only lead us to treasure the holiness of life in Christ but also will open our eyes to embrace the good fruit which leads to life and love, and to reject the evil fruit which is borne of sin and leads to death.

As we are studying during these days the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI on Sacred Music, let us offer fervent prayers of thanksgiving for our Holy Father’s faithful, courageous and tireless exercise of the office of Vicar of Christ on earth. Let us thank God, in a special way, for all that our Holy Father has done to foster the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy and the reverence with which we celebrate the Mystery of Faith. In these days, when the enemies of the Church attack so fiercely the person of the Holy Father, let us pray in the words of the traditional prayer for the Roman Pontiff: “May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.”2 Surely, your participation in the Solemn Pontifical Mass is an expression of your oneness of mind and heart with the Roman Pontiff in his primary pastoral work, in the highest expression of his pastoral charity, namely, the promotion of the worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

Your appreciation of the richly-articulated beauty of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is ultimately an expression of your attraction to the incomparable beauty of the action of Christ our Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, making ever present for us the outpouring of His Life for us on Calvary. We are reminded of the words of our Holy Father regarding the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy. Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us that the “truest beauty is the love of God, who definitively revealed Himself to us in the Paschal Mystery” and that the “beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth.”3 Let us pray, in a special way, that our participation in the Holy Mass today will deepen our wonder at the incomparable beauty of God’s love of us in Jesus Christ, expressed most fully in the Sacred Liturgy.


The NLM will bring you more from the Fota Liturgical Conference as it becomes available.

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