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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Signs of Hope: Cardinal Burke at Franciscan University, Steubenville

By:   Morgan Gilcrest
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Morgan Gilcrest and Cardinal Burke Morgan Gilcrest and Cardinal Burke
Editor’s Note: After an enthusiastic response to my daughter Cecelia Matt’s post on Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s visit to Christendom College last week, it occurred to me that visitors to this blog might also enjoy Morgan Gilchrest’s report on Cardinal Burke’s visit to Franciscan University at Steubenville, which appeared in the last print edition of The Remnant. MJM

“I’m a traditional Catholic. However, my parents are not. They filed for a civil divorce and are both in irregular unions, so I take personally much of this nonsense from the Synod and this quest to appease the sin of adultery…” – Morgan Gilcrest

I was having lunch in July with a professor at Franciscan University, who is a supporter of the Catholic Identity Conference, when I heard that Cardinal Burke was going to celebrate a Pontifical High Mass here in Steubenville and would be giving a conference on the Synod on the Family. My first thought was to pray that I would get to serve the Mass.

Sure enough, some days later, a friend from school told me they were looking for servers and he gave me the email address of the man in charge. I sent an email and hours later I received the reply that I would be serving a Pontifical High Mass for Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. I was unbelievably excited and grateful to God and quickly rushed to tell my friends about it. I knew this was going to be the greatest Mass I’ve ever attended to this point in my twenty-three years of life.

The day finally came for the Mass. It was the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, such a fitting day to talk about the Synod of the Family. It was so beautiful and so holy. It was so, shall I say, Catholic! Our own Franciscan University Schola Cantorum Franciscana sang Vierne’s Messe Solannelle. They were incredible and I’m so glad to say I have friends who sang in that Mass.

The Kyrie and the Gloria raised the mind, heart and soul to God in such a way that only the rich musical tradition of Holy Mother Church can. Being a server, a torchbearer, kneeling just feet from the altar where His Eminence ascended the altar of God to begin the Holy Mass was breathtaking. That is Christ, right there, through His priestly instrument, Cardinal Burke, re-presenting that Perfect Sacrifice to the Father for our sins. It was an amazing thought that ran through my mind that I was in some way helping Cardinal Burke offer the Mass.

To receive Holy Communion from a man who will undoubtedly be remembered in the books of Church history for his words and actions in the time we live, and who knows, one day might be canonized is an honor that few in the Church have had. What a gift from God, and from Our Lady. I’ll remember it the rest of my life, and I’m not the only one. A friend of mine, Dennis Vu, a junior majoring in Theology and Catechetics who also served said, “What a foretaste and glimpse of heaven we were all given at this Mass. That I was able to be in that sanctuary with His Eminence, I was overwhelmed with such gratitude during and after the Mass.” The Mass ended, but the day was only half over.  

Later on that evening, the Cardinal gave an address that dealt with several topics relevant to the Synod and the attack on the family. I remember last year’s synod and what happened and the disaster that ensued, with the disturbing midterm Relatio Synodi document that talked about the positive elements of cohabitation and civil unions and asked Catholics if we can value the homosexual orientation. I was beyond disturbed.

To be able to see a Cardinal of the Catholic Church living his vocation to speak the truth and guide the faithful fanned the flame in my heart and gave a sense of hope that even if disastrous things happen at this next round of the Synod, we have men like Cardinal Burke that we can look to, fighting for us with the power of Christ and His Blessed Mother, which the modernists cannot claim to have.

What was most important to me was the topic of the divorced and remarried. I’m a traditional Catholic. However, my parents are not. They filed for a civil divorce and are both in irregular unions, so I take personally much of this nonsense from the Synod and this quest to appease the sin of adultery and allow “divorced and remarried” people to receive Holy Communion as public adulterers without proper repentance and conversion.

This Synod on the Family threatens my own family. It threatens to mislead them. It threatens to lead them into further sin and
further error instead of telling them they must convert like the woman at the well in John’s Gospel. I don’t think those aligned with the Kasper proposal ever quote that passage.

To me, the most important thing that Cardinal Burke said was when he spoke out clearly against the kind of sentimentality that is so often found among people in the Church. He said, “Such sentimentalism blocks the encounter with Christ on the part of the person who is in sin. For it sees the truth of Christ as something hurtful to the person and thus does not speak the truth, which is the only way for the person in his time to abandon the sin in question.”

I find this so important because so often we hear today how we must be “merciful” to those living in a “divorced and remarried” state, yet this so called mercy so often talked about lacks truth and thus lacks love. It wants to pardon the sin that is not repented of, if this idea of mercy even considers anything a sin anymore.

What we need to do is speak the truth in charity and walk with the person in a way that helps them see their sin and need for conversion and return to the Church and the Sacraments. That is the truly merciful thing to do. It’s not merciful to sit back and watch someone live in mortal sin and walk towards hell.

During the question and answer period, I was able to ask Cardinal Burke a question. I asked what we can do to evangelize those who are living in these irregular unions. In part of his answer, the Cardinal said something very important. He replied that we need to help these people live a “form of heroic chastity” so they can live in fidelity to their original marriage once they repent of their sin and that this form of chastity is not “for the elite or only for certain people.”

Where is this from those supporting the Kasper proposal? They never speak of true chastity. They don’t care about chastity. His Eminence also said that he has been giving presentations on this issue over the last year and that he has met many people who have been abandoned by their spouse and yet they have continued to live faithfully to this marriage and their vows without taking on another partner and “they find their joy even in the suffering which is involved with it in living in fidelity to that marriage.” It is these people who should be speaking at the synod for the whole world to hear.

To hear this was very powerful because so often these Kasper supporters portray people as almost incapable of controlling themselves when abandoned by a spouse, as if they just happened to fall into an adulterous relationship without free will or knowledge. They never refer to redemptive suffering or faithfulness to the vows of marriage when abandoned. They refer only to having “understanding” for the sinner and the sin, and it is a kind of understanding that leads to acceptance of the error as being morally acceptable.

This conference by Cardinal Burke gave me a great sense of hope, even though I can see the evils present with the Synod. It’s easy to look at the Synod, to look at the bishops and cardinals, and even the Pope and see what we are up against with this threat to the family from within the Church. It’s easy to wonder how the true faith can win. Indeed, the Synod probably will try to do something harmful to the Church. However, when that happens, we have men like Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Archbishop Lenga ready to stand up and fight for us and lead us in what to do.

Christ promised not to leave us orphans, and He won’t leave us orphans in this either. We may be few, we may be vastly outnumbered, but that’s how it has been so many times throughout the history of the Church. This is not an easy fight and it’s not going to end quickly or painlessly, but the Cross of Christ was a slow and painful death. Like the Cross of Christ, this trial, this attack on the family from within the Church, has for those who are faithful and persevere in this long, hard and confusing battle, a resurrection waiting on the other side. Let us not lose hope, for our hope is in Christ and the Blessed Mother who never fail us, even if priests, bishops, cardinals and even the Pope do.

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Last modified on Monday, October 19, 2015