I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry.
2 Timothy 4: 1-5a
I have been mulling over the notion of writing a new post about His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, for some time now. His current visit to Saint Louis, including the beautiful benediction at the Oratory last night, seems a good enough reason to do it.
Cardinal Burke’s doings and sayings are closely followed by readers of this blog– he is the Archbishop Emeritus of this Archdiocese and still has many admirers here. But he is also beloved by faithful Catholics worldwide as the champion, really, of the push to restore the liturgy of the Catholic Church, and hence the Catholic faith itself. Of course, His Holiness Benedict XVI is the head of the Church and also, happily, of the effort for restoration. But I think that in many ways Cardinal Burke is the “Cid” (think Chuck Heston in El Cid) to the Pope’s king.
If you want to know where a Catholic stands on a whole host of issues that are today controversial (and which in previous times were just known as Catholic) ask him the question, “What do you think of Cardinal Burke?” It is a generally accurate barometer, with exceptions of course.
Sometimes the response is a community-wide affair. For instance, Cardinal Burke celebrated a Solemn Pontifical High Mass on Saturday at the St. Vincent de Paul chapel at the Rigali Center. This beautiful chapel was the spiritual home for hundreds upon hundreds of Archdiocesan priests as they received their seminary formation. It is currently the headquarters of the Archdiocese’s administration. It is two miles from the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. It is centrally located in the St. Louis area, in a nice part of town. And yet there were few people who attended. I didn’t do an exact count, but I guess about 35-40 people, and these mostly included participants in a liturgy conference and the parents of the altar servers for the Mass.
Don’t get me wrong– it was the middle of a very nice day on a Saturday. I wouldn’t expect 1,000 people, nor could the chapel hold them. But I was a tad surprised not to see the place filled. The man is, after all, a Prince of the Church and the Archbishop Emeritus. And how often does a Cardinal come through town anyway?
Contrast that turnout with the turnout for His Eminence’s visit to the Oratory for Eucharistic exposition and benediction. This event was on a Tuesday at 5 pm, so it also was not on a Sunday and was at a somewhat inconvenient time. Yet I would estimate the crowd at somewhere between 450-550 (possibly more), which is good considering that it was a workday and in order to make it many would have had to leave work early.
I cite this not to say that one venue is better than the other (really, I don’t) but instead to highlight the amount of support Cardinal Burke engenders in many places but not in all places. And like it or not, the dividing line tends to run along doctrinal orthodoxy and liturgical reverence. There, I’ve said it.
I made a comment to my lovely wife Sharon that His Eminence looked good in red. She quite sensibly said yes, but he would look better in white. I couldn’t agree more– all in the good Lord’s time, of course. May our beloved Holy Father reign for decades more.
But whenever the next conclave happens, I will pray that, if it is God’s will, Cardinal Burke might appear on that balcony after the white smoke rises. It would be a glorious day for Holy Mother Church. And then, look out, and batten down the hatches.
May Our Lord and Lady protect and bless Cardinal Burke and the Church he serves. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!