Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Cardinal Burke and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday I attended the diocesan catechetical conference and had the great pleasure of seeing “Our Cardinal” – Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. He spoke very beautifully on the devotional life, especially devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. His eminence spoke for about 45 minutes covering the foundations for the devotional life in the Church’s magisterium as well as the mis-steps caused by the “Spirit” of Vatican II crowd and the resulting demise of any meaningful devotional life in much of the Church today. He also discussed how this lack of a devotional life has contributed to the fall of the family as a meaningful foundation for society today.

The good Cardinal then took us on a journey through the magisterium of Blessed Pope John Paul II. In this he outlined Bl. JPII’s program for recovering what had been lost which he had addressed almost from the beginning of his pontificate to the very end.

In the interest of time he skipped over the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI, though he promised to somehow make his transcript available so that we could read this section. (I’ll try to post it as soon as I can get hold of it). Of course, readers of this blog will have been quite attentive to B16’s pronouncements and are undoubtedly already quite aware with regards to his thoughts on the importance of a strong devotional life, especially within the family.

Parts of the Cardinal’s talk were most touching, nearly moving me to tears on a few occasions (though, those who know me know that I can be a bit of a sap – not on the scale of Speaker Boehner however). This was especially true as he related stories from his own experience of priestly ministry giving witness to the power of a strong devotional life – especially to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He gave very beautiful and powerful witness to this devotion bringing families back together and even contributing to a very happy and peaceful death. That is not to say that I didn’t pay rapt attention to the entirety of his beautiful talk! But…some parts are very informational and thus somewhat dry, while others are very inspirational precisely because they give witness to the great power of that about which the Cardinal was speaking.

This is why I have always encouraged a strong devotional life in my parishes. In, now, my third pastorate the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help continues to be a fixture of parish life (Wednesday nights at 8:00pm at St. Mary’s Ridge). I also provide opportunities for adoration, an annual 40 hours devotion, Stations of the Cross, the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is encouraged before Mass as well as other seasonal devotions attached to those seasons of the year or saints who have particular message that is relevant for the people of my parishes.

Sadly, it’s been years since I have been asked to consecrate a family home to the Sacred Heart, and it seems like pulling teeth to get people to attend 40 hours devotion and other opportunities for adoration. Stations of the Cross are very poorly attended to the extent that even when it is a part of the CCD program parents almost always seem to be out in their cars impatiently waiting for their children to be released from church.

What do we do? I ask this not in exasperation but out of real concern and the knowledge that the devotional life is very strong in some places. What are they (or you) doing that is working? As always in this blog, I seek your input.

Cardinal Burke has echoed Bl.JPII’s and B16’s call for a new evangelization. He has pointed out very clearly how this new evangelization must begin with a renewal of family life. He has also demonstrated very persuasively that this renewal cannot take place without a return to a strong devotional life within the family and within our Church. How will we answer that call?

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