Make room in your hearts for Jesus Christ, Archbishop tells faithful

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

This is the homily of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke at the Mass of Installation on Jan. 26, the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen. I. Saint Paul’s words to Saint Timothy, his disciple, co-worker and indeed his most beloved spiritual son, point to the truth we celebrate today: the grace of the Holy Spirit at work within the Apostles and their successors for the teaching, sanctification and pastoral rule of God’s holy people.Timothy had accompanied and assisted Paul on his apostolic journeys; had undertaken, at Paul’s direction, apostolic missions of his own; and had been consecrated as the First Bishop of Ephesus.Saint Paul, in his letters to him, recalls to Timothy’s mind the power of God’s grace within him by his consecration, so that he might be courageous and faithful in carrying out the apostolic ministry. How wise and how encouraging Paul’s words were for Timothy: Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (Reading II). Saint Paul wrote similar words to Saint Titus, who was also a disciple and co-worker, and whom the Apostle of the Nations consecrated as the First Bishop of Crete. In fact, in Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus we find a kind of rule of life for a bishop. In honoring today the memory of Saints Timothy and Titus, we celebrate the grace of the apostolic office, handed down faithfully, from that first generation in the life of the Church, to our time and place. That grace was given to me through the hands of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on Jan. 6, 1995, first for the service of the Church in La Crosse and now for the service of the Church in St. Louis. Having completed my apostolic mission in my beloved home diocese and taking up today the same apostolic mission in my second home diocese, I, with you, thank God for the outpouring of His grace in my life for your sake.Today, deeply conscious of my unworthiness, I hear the words of Saint Paul to Timothy, as if spoken to me by our Holy Father: "Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (Reading II). The memory of Saints Timothy and Titus leads us also to celebrate the beloved co-workers of the bishops, the priests who share in the priestly office for the shepherding of God’s flock. The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us: "Bishops, therefore, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to priests at their ordination, will regard them as their indispensable helpers and advisers in the ministry and in the task of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of God" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 7a). Let us thank God today for our priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my co-workers in carrying out the ministry of Christ the Great Shepherd. Let us also pray for those whom God is calling to the ordained priesthood, especially the seminarians of the archdiocese.Let us pray, too, for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, that it may be always a worthy school of priestly virtue and pastoral charity. II. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry is truly a celebration of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in whose person the Apostles and their successors have acted on behalf of God’s holy people in every age. God the Father had promised through the Prophet Isaiah that the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be upon His anointed, upon the Christ, for our salvation.By His Redemptive Incarnation, God the Son, in whom the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwells, has freed us from our slavery to sin and won for us a share in the same Holy Spirit (Reading I). Among the many riches of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church is the consecration of bishops as true shepherds of God’s flock. By the grace of Holy Orders, bishops act in the person of Christ, the Good Shepherd, sharing in His own life and ministry.So it is that Christ, in His final discourse to His disciples, a small portion of which we have heard proclaimed in today’s Gospel, can say: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (Gospel) At the Lord’s Supper, Christ, who had called the Apostles, consecrated them to carry out His mission of Head and Shepherd in every community of faith, above all by renewing in every time and place the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist.In the Holy Eucharist, most of all, we witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the ministry of those called and consecrated as bishops and priests. III. We also celebrate today the fifth anniversary of the arrival of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II on pastoral visit to this historic diocese of our nation.On Jan. 26 and 27 of 1999, the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and all who joined them in receiving our Holy Father’s visit, among whom I was blessed to be counted, witnessed directly the Holy Spirit at work in the apostolic ministry of the Successor of Saint Peter, "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful" (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium [Nov. 21, 1964], n. 23a).Recalling the Holy Father’s visit on this memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, on the day of my installation as Archbishop of St. Louis, I express my deepest gratitude to Pope John Paul II for confiding to me this new apostolic mission, and I pledge again my steadfast loyalty in fostering, in communion with him, the unity of the Church.Let us thank God, in a special way today, for Pope John Paul II, and pray that God continue to grant him wisdom and strength for the pastoral care of the universal Church. Our Holy Father, true to his apostolic office, came to St. Louis at the sunset of the Second Christian Millennium and the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium to teach us how to live more fully in Christ, how to cooperate more fully with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured forth into our hearts.He came to guide and help us in carrying out the New Evangelization, the teaching of the faith with the new energy and enthusiasm required in an age forgetful of God and even hostile to His plan for our salvation.His words during the pastoral visit remain so timely, a kind of examination of conscience for us today as we, together, begin a new chapter in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. IV. In proposing to us the challenge of the New Evangelization, our Holy Father drew us to the Heart of Jesus, in his words, "the door through which the eternal love of the Father is poured out on the world" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Solemn Eucharistic Celebration, America’s Center, St. Louis, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 1c).He drew us to the glorious open Heart of Jesus in the celebration of the holy Mass and in eucharistic adoration.The holy Mass is the fullest and most perfect encounter which we have with Christ in this world. Christ made truly present for us on the altar of sacrifice remains with us in the Sacrament of His true Body and Blood reposed in the tabernacles of our churches and chapels. To help us to understand more deeply and love more fully the eucharistic mystery, on Holy Thursday of last year, our Holy Father gave us his Encyclical Letter "On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church" in which he tells us: The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: By not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace (n. 25c). Coming to you as your new archbishop, I urge you to draw close to the Heart of Jesus opened wide for you in the holy Eucharist, by your faithful participation in the Sunday Mass and in weekday Mass, when possible, and by your eucharistic devotion, especially visits to the Blessed Sacrament and eucharistic adoration. Placing our hearts within the Sacred Heart of Jesus through participation in the holy Eucharist and eucharistic devotion, let us enthrone the image of His Sacred Heart in our homes and places of work and recreation, consecrating ourselves and all that we do to His service.The Sacred Heart devotion is a most fitting and efficacious way of extending eucharistic worship and devotion into every moment and every aspect of our lives.Christ must reign in us for the salvation of the world.Sharers in Christ’s own Spirit, we must more and more turn over our lives completely to Him. In the daily conversion of life, by which our hearts are more perfectly conformed to the Heart of Jesus, we are inspired and aided by our brothers and sisters who have answered the call to the consecrated life.By their closer following of Christ in the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience, they assist us all to attain a greater holiness of life. Let us thank God today for the many consecrated persons in the archdiocese and pray that the young men and women from the archdiocese, whom God is calling to the consecrated life, will respond with an undivided heart. In urging the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I also commend the many associations of the faithful who so strongly contribute to the building up of the life of the Church: the Legion of Mary, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the International Serra Club, to name a few. The associations of Christian faithful help their members to extend the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and thus to grow in holiness of life. V. Drawing us to the Heart of Jesus for the New Evangelization, our Holy Father reminded us that special attention must be given to "the family and the renewal of Christian marriage" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5). It is in the family, in the home formed by the faithful, enduring and procreative love of man and woman in marriage, that the Church first comes to life, that we first come to know, love and serve Christ. Children are indeed "the crowning glory" of marriage (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 48a), for in the procreation and education of children, husband and wife find the greatest fruit of their married love and build up all of society in unity and peace. What the Church has always known seems to be a new discovery for the thoroughly secularized society of our time, namely that the state of the family determines very much the state of society.In urging our special attention to the family, our Holy Father declared: "As the family goes, so goes the nation!" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5a). According to the wisdom of God’s plan, the exclusive and lifelong love of a man and a woman, who are united in marriage, is the chosen place in which He gives new human life and provides the solid foundation of the life of all society. The care of a shepherd for the flock must begin with the family, with attention to the preparation of children and young people for marriage, if it be their vocation, and in the encouragement and support of the married, to strive in their daily living toward the high standard of Christlike love for each other and for their children.It is within the family, first of all, that children and young people come to know God’s special plan for them, their vocation in life, in the language of the Church, their way to salvation.Whether young people are called to the married life or dedicated single life or consecrated life or priesthood, they will first come to know the oblation of love, which their vocation demands, through the love of their parents in the family. Next to the gift of life itself, there is no more important gift that parents can give to their children than assisting them in knowing their vocation in life, their way of giving glory to God and serving their neighbor.No matter what goods we may provide for our children, also in abundance, they will never know happiness in life until they have discovered God’s plan for them and embraced His plan with all their heart.Repeatedly, we are told that parents and parish priests provide the most critical inspiration and assistance to a young person seeking to know God’s will.Today, we thank God for the families of the archdiocese, and we pray that God will grant them the unity and peace of the Holy Family of Nazareth. May our homes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis be the first and most important place for carrying out the apostolate of vocations. In speaking about the family, I cannot fail to mention the Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, which provide a fundamental and irreplaceable service to parents in the Catholic education of their children.Through catechesis, children and young people receive a most important help in knowing their vocation in life and preparing to do whatever God asks of them. Saint Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the teaching of the faith "to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others well" (Second Reading).We owe a profound debt of gratitude to our catechists, whether in the Catholic schools or in the programs of religious education, whose apostolate lies at the foundation of the life of the Church. VI. Finally, in drawing us to the Heart of Jesus, our Holy Father taught us the first and most fundamental principle of the moral life: the inviolability of all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Contemplating the Heart of Jesus, opened by the soldier’s spear as Christ died on the cross for us, we cannot doubt the immense love of God for each and every one of us. Sharers in the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be heralds and instruments of the Gospel of Life.Perhaps no service of the Church to the world is more sorely needed today than the fostering of the reverence for all human life.Sadly, society is characterized by violence in a myriad of forms, but most wrongfully in the attack upon the life of those who have the first title to our care: the innocent and defenseless unborn, and those whose lives have grown burdened under advanced years, special needs or serious illness.Too many lives have already been taken through violence.Let us spare no effort in the apostolate of the respect for all human life. In the Heart of Jesus we will find the inspiration and strength to be "followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5b).In Christ, we will also find the way to protect ourselves from crime without violently taking the life of the criminal.May Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, who desired so strongly to bring the Gospel to her native American brothers and sisters, intercede for us, that we will always find the way to respect and promote the dignity of life of every brother and sister, without boundary of origin or race. The archdiocese is blessed with so many charitable, educational and missionary institutions.Through their fidelity to their Catholic identity, may they serve all in justice and love.May these institutions, so important to the mission of the Church in the archdiocese, seek the intercession and follow the example of our patrons, Saint Louis IX of France, who daily fed the hungry at his table and served the needy in his own person, and Saint Vincent de Paul who "studied to procure the relief of others under all necessities, whether spiritual or corporal" (Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 1956 edition, Vol. 3, p. 143). VII. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry will now reach its fullness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ, the Good Shepherd, renews the outpouring of His life for us on Calvary.Through this holy Eucharist, may Christ draw us, shepherd and flock, into one, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father and for the salvation of our world. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, we implore your help and protection, that we may do all that Christ asks of us, and that I may never fail in the mission which Christ has entrusted to me. Saint Louis IX of France, pray for us. Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.

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