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Monday, February 9, 2015

Cardinal Burke Offers Traditional Mass in Rome, Defends Traditional Teaching on Marriage

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Cardinal Burke Offers Traditional Mass in Rome, Defends Traditional Teaching on Marriage

(Rome) In the month of January the traditional Roman calendar offers us two closely inter-related feast days: January 10th as the Feast of the Sacred Family and January 23rd as the Feast of the Espousal of the Virgin Mary with St Joseph. Although never on the general Calendar, the latter was kept by many religious orders, especially those with a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and on many local calendars.

In anticipation of the second feast at a later date, on Saturday, January 10th, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the in the Extraordinary Form at the Faldstool in the ancient splendid Basilica di San Nicola in Carcere at 11.00 am. The Mass was celebrated ad orientem, in respect to the altar, but versus populum, due to the particular altar position of this ancient Basilica centrally located near the Teatro Marcello in Rome and built into a pre-existing temple in the ancient Greek zone. Where there were fora for oil and vegetables and, most notably, once the ferocity of the pagans sacrificed to idols, today a large number of faithful attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to contemplate with tenderness and love Jesus who gives himself every day in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the species of the Eucharist.


Incidentally, in this very church the Latin Mass is regularly celebrated every Saturday at 6 pm, after the recitation of the Holy Rosary, thanks to the good office of the stable group San Luigi Orione under the direction of the celebrant, Father Giuseppe Vallauri (he himself a Orionino, viz. member of the congregation established by San Luigi) and courtesy of the Basilica’s rector, Msgr. Antonio Silvestrelli.

The texts for the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke, as already mentioned, were the rarely seen Missa votiva In Desponsatione B. Mariæ V. cum S. Joseph (Votive Mass for the Betrothal of Mary and Joseph) which fell on 23 January, found in an appendix of older editions of the Missale Romanum.

The Solemn Pontifical was the concluding event of a meeting of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy conference in Rome and was graced by the impeccable chants and music of a visiting choir from Ireland, the Lassus Scholars of Dublin. Father Glen Tattersall, of the Parish of Bl. John Henry Newman in Melbourne, organized the liturgy and served as the assistant priest. A particular gratitude was expressed to the FSSP’s Father Joseph Kramer, pastor of the personal parish for the tradition-minded faithful in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, for his invaluable assistance in providing resources necessary to the ceremony.

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As one might expect, the Cardinal’s sermon elaborated on the meaning and far reaching implications of Mary and Joseph’s betrothal, which was an actual marriage and not just an engagement, and on the importance of Mary’s virginity in that marital context. “From the text of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, it is clear that Mary was already married to Saint Joseph at the time of the Annunciation, but that Saint Joseph had not yet brought her into his home”, the senior prelate said. “For that reason, upon learning of her pregnancy, Saint Joseph, for the sake of decency, thought to divorce her in as discreet a manner as possible. To be clear, the word ‘betrothed’ is not rightly understood as ‘engaged’, but rather as ‘espoused’ or ‘married’ as the rest of the language of the text makes clear”.

He then went on speaking about the importance of a correct understanding of what marriage is and what cannot be considered marriage, a crucial point especially in light of the present debate and in preparation of the next Synod on the family.

It is inconceivable that God the Son, at His Incarnation, would not respect fully, indeed would not bring to perfection, both the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the sanctity of her marriage to Saint Joseph. The accurate understanding of the marital status of Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary is important for our fuller knowledge and love of the Mystery of Faith, but it is also important for the avoidance of a confusion and an error which are common today. Reference is made to the serious situation in the revised edition of The Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Basic Catholic Catechism Course. It will be helpful to quote a part of his treatment of the subject: "The fact that Jesus was virginally conceived and born after the marriage of Mary and Joseph means that Jesus was conceived and born within wedlock. This is contrary to what so many, even priests, are saying at the present time, namely, that Jesus was born out of wedlock, like the children of so many unmarried women today, and that this is not an “abnormal” situation. A pregnant, un-wed mother is said to be, according to these people, in the same condition as Mary, who they claim was also un-wed at the time she conceived Jesus. This is false; it is indeed a very serious falsehood, for it undermines the sanctity of marriage and the reason for that sanctity. It is said by defenders of this position that Jesus was conceived after Mary and Joseph were engaged, but not yet married."

The problem with this erroneous position, he pointed out, is that it “is held not only by those who knowingly dissent from the constant teaching of the Church but also by many individuals who are simply poorly catechized and therefore fall prey to such false teaching. The importance of clarity regarding the marriage of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint Joseph is also most important for the discussions regarding marriage undertaken at the present time by the Synod of Bishops. While the Synod of Bishops is called to lift up the beauty of marriage, as God established it from the beginning, there is a strong attempt to introduce discussions about the so-called ‘positive elements’ in the cohabitation of a man and of a woman, like husband and wife, without respect for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We see in the marriage of Mary and Joseph, in a most remarkable way, the beauty of marriage, established by God at the Creation and restored to its original perfection by God the Son Incarnate at the Redemption”.

After the Pontifical Mass, one of the oldest copies of the crowned image of the much venerated Our Lady of Guadalupe, brought here in the early 1600’s and decorated with gold from the New World, was taken down from its side chapel and offered to the faithful for their devotional kiss. Let’s pray Our Lady of Guadalupe for the faithful on both sides of the Ocean to remain steadfast and united in the victorious defense of the marriage and the family as instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Last modified on Monday, February 9, 2015