Sermon of Cardinal Burke at Ramsgate

Full text of the sermon of Cardinal Burke, given on Monday 9 March at St Augustine’s, Ramsgate during the celebration of Pontifical High Mass:


VOTIVE MASS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE, BISHOP, APOSTLE OF ENGLAND
SHRINE OF SAINT AUGUSTINE
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF RAMSGATE AND MINSTER
RAMSGATE, ENGLAND
9 MARCH 2015

1 Thes 2, 2-9
Lk 10, 1-9

SERMON

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

How great a blessing to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Shrine of Saint Augustine, Apostle of England, so near to the place at which he, together with some forty other monks, arrived in the year 597 on a mission received from the Roman Pontiff, Pope Gregory the Great: the mission of the new evangelization of the British Isles. Here we witness directly the unfailing activity of the glorious Christ in His Church. Saint Augustine and his companions, not unlike the 72 disciples in the Gospel, were sent forth by the Vicar of Christ on earth to bring Christ alive in the Church to a faraway land. Venerating the tomb of Saint Augustine, we receive the grace of missionary zeal which is most fully and perfectly expressed in the offering of the Holy Mass.

From historical accounts, we know how much Pope Saint Gregory the Great desired to bring the truth and love of Christ to the English nation. He had seen the English youth brought as slaves to Rome, and his heart was filled with compassion for them and for their fellow countrymen. He felt in his heart, the sentiment of the Lord who exhorted the seventy-two disciples for the mission with these words:

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.(1)

Thus, he called upon the monks of the Roman Monastery of Saint Andrew, from which he had been called to the See of Peter and of which Saint Augustine was the Prior, to undertake the long and difficult journey to England and to preach the Gospel in a place totally unknown to them.(2)

One can imagine that his instructions to Saint Augustine and the other monks were, in substance, the same as those of the Lord to the disciples:

Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”(3)

Thanks be to God, Saint Augustine and his companions carried out the mission with total obedience. The integrity with which they carried out their priestly labors is well described in the words of Saint Paul in today’s Epistle:

For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.(4)

They never doubted that their work was Christ’s, not their own. The measure of their ministry, therefore, was Christ alone, His truth and His love. Thus, their preaching of the Gospel and their ministration of the Sacraments has unceasingly borne fruit for centuries in the British Isles and far beyond.

Dom Prosper Guéranger, in his commentary on the feast of Saint Augustine, reflects upon the enduring fruits of their missionary labors with these words:

Thus the new race that then peopled the island received the faith, as the Britons had previously done from the hands of a Pope; and monks were their teachers in the science of salvation. The word of Augustine and his companions fructified in this privileged soil. It was some time of course before he could provide the whole nation with instruction; but neither Rome nor the Benedictines abandoned the work thus begun. The few remnants that were left of the ancient British Christianity joined the new converts; and England merited to be called, for long ages, the “Island of Saints.”(5)

One thinks, for example, of illustrious figures like the Venerable Bede and Saint Thomas Becket.

Contemplating the saints who were the illustrious fruit of the apostolic ministry of Saint Augustine and his companions, we recall also how many suffered, even to the shedding of their blood, to be true to the apostolic faith handed down to them in an unbroken line from the Apostles and, in particular, from Pope Saint Gregory the Great, heroic Successor of Saint Peter, and Saint Augustine of Canterbury, illustrious successor of the Apostles. In a most particular way, we recall the figures of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher who held fast to the tradition of the faith received from the Vicar of Christ on earth, when so many betrayed and abandoned the apostolic faith. At his trial on July 1, 1535, Saint Thomas More held firmly to the living Tradition of the Church, which forbade him, in conscience, to acknowledge King Henry VIII with the title of Supreme Head of the Church. When, during the trial, the Chancellor rebuked him, citing the acceptance of the title by so many bishops and nobles of the land, Thomas More replied: “My lord, for one bishop of your opinion I have a hundred saints of mine; and for one parliament of yours, and God knows of what kind, I have all the General Councils for 1,000 years, ….”(6) The English Martyrs gave up their lives in martyrdom rather than giving up their greatest and lasting treasure, the life of Christ alive for us in His holy Church. Many others, both canonized saints and unknown heroes of the faith, selflessly and enduringly practiced the Catholic faith brought to the British Isles by Saint Augustine and his companions.

Surely, too, we are conscious of the great challenges in living the apostolic faith in our time. Truly, Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of lies”(7), cannot stand the truth and love of Christ shining forth in His holy Church. He never takes repose from his deceitful and hateful labors. He is always trying to corrupt the truth, the beauty and the goodness which Christ never ceases to pour forth into our Christian souls from His glorious pierced Heart. The pervasive confusion and grave error about the most fundamental truths, the most beautiful realities, and the lasting goods of human life and its cradle, the human family, as they come to us from the hand of God, are the tragic signs of Satan’s presence in our midst. When we see how he has succeeded in corrupting a culture which was once Christian and in sowing the seeds of confusion and error even within the Church herself, we can easily become frightened and discouraged.

But, as Saint Augustine and his companions knew and preached, there is another presence which always conquers Satan. It is the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His holy Church and, most perfectly and fully of all, in the Most Blessed Sacrament: His Real Presence. Holding fast to Christ and to His truth and love, even in the face of persecution, the victory over sin, the victory of eternal life will surely be ours. Our Lord Himself, when he placed his Church upon the solid foundation of the Petrine Office, promised us that the forces of evil would not prevail against her.(8) The last chapter of the history of the Church is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ, when he returns in glory to bring to consummation his saving work, to inaugurate “a new heaven and a new earth.”(9) The intervening chapters are ours to write, with Christ and as His faithful and generous disciples. They will certainly be the story of suffering for the truth and love of Christ, but they will also always be the story of divine grace at work in every Christian soul, filling it with joy and peace even in the face of great suffering and death itself. Let us not give way to fear or discouragement, but let us, with Saint Paul, rejoice to fill out in our time the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God and for the salvation of the world.(10)

Coming on pilgrimage to this shrine, I cannot fail to note the example of the Catholic architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, architect of this beautiful church which is also the place of his burial. Augustus Pugin was attracted to the truth of the Catholic faith through its reflection in the beauty of the great Church architecture of the Middle Ages. He, in turn, sought to express and inspire by his architecture the nobility and beauty of a Christian culture during a time in which the Christian foundations of society were already under serious threat from the radical secularism of the thinking of the so-called Enlightenment. Offering Holy Mass is this church which can rightly be called his, let us thank God for him and for the great treasure of the beauty of the faith which he has given to us.

Christ now makes sacramentally present His Sacrifice on Calvary. Christ now offers to us the great fruit of His Sacrifice, which He first offered to the Apostles at the Last Supper and which Saint Augustine brought to England in 597: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Who alone is the Savior of the world. As the glorious Christ descends to the altar of this great sanctuary, let us lift up our hearts to His glorious pierced Heart. As He offers up His life for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, let us, with Him, offer our lives as an oblation of love to God the Father for the salvation of all our brothers and sisters. With the Virgin Mary, Mary of the Annunciation venerated as Our Lady of Walsingham on this beloved island, let us be one in heart with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. In the Heart of Jesus our hearts will find the courage and strength to remain true to the apostolic faith for the glory of God and for the salvation of England and of all the world.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary and Foster-Father of Jesus, pray for us.
Saint Gregory the Great, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, Apostle of England, pray for us.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

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29 Responses to Sermon of Cardinal Burke at Ramsgate

  1. Frere Rabit says:

    When I saw the photographs of Cardinal Burke in Ramsgate yesterday…

    IMG_2929

    …I felt oddly homesick for the first time in the nearly five years since I left Canterbury, in the dire circumstances that some of you may remember, and began a new episode of my life: with donkeys in Finestrat, a village safely outside spewing distance of Benidorm. I felt slightly homesick again reading this sermon, and thinking again about the place it was delivered, Ramsgate Abbey.

    In an earlier chapter of my life when England was home, the place of Augustine’s landing was a short cycle ride from Canterbury and I went there occasionally to reflect upon that key Catholic (and Anglican) moment in England’s history. I also stayed at the abbey in Ramsgate once, when the Benedictiones were still there, and my bicycle and I had missed the Dunkirk ferry one dark rainy night when I was heading to the Belgian ecumenical abbey of Chevetogne on retreat. The monks of Ramsgate were very hospitable and also gave me a letter to take to Chevetogne.

    How wonderful it must have been to hear Cardinal Raymond Burke’s sermon in that place, in the Pontifical High Mass he celebrated there. What good words he offers for the confused and the despairing, and those in the Church who just wonder where it is all heading! “Let us not give way to fear or discouragement, but let us, with Saint Paul, rejoice to fill out in our time the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God and for the salvation of the world.”

    Yes, I was briefly homesick for a place that once was home, but I won’t be going ‘home’ from here. Home for the pilgrim is the road. The road brought me here, via the Camino de Santiago, via the road to Rome, via the A2 from Canterbury to Dover… Cardinal Burke is also a pilgrim who is now on the road. He is becoming a new source of hope to many of the faithful. God bless him.

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    “Home for the pilgrim is the road.”

    I wish I’d said that. Very nice. Reminds one of a famous poem written by another donkey lover.

  3. Michael says:

    Cardinal Burke is one of those prelates who makes it clear from the outset that the Eucharist, to him, truly is the source and summit of the faith. We really need more priests, bishops, and cardinals like that in the Church.

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    The Cardinal provides a brilliant, warm, traditional, and generous, truthful homily — our own Bishop provides sermons somewhat in the same style, but his cannot approach the stellar quality of the teaching of this dear Cardinal.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    “Home for the pilgrim is the road.”

    I wish I’d said that.

    hmmm, yes but there’s a trap for the unwary in that statement, which expresses a deep truth BTW

    The trap is the earthly road, and the earthly home, not the spiritual ones — and there’s a great danger in our times, and in some of the present pilgrim “spirit”, of letting oneself be seduced by the notion of one’s spiritual home being an earthly road — but in Truth, Home is God, and the road is our pathway towards Him ; but yes, our earthly home can properly be nothing other than a part of that eternal Pilgrim Way that is the Revelation of our Lord.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    I see the truth in your last comment, JP, although it speaks to something other than what I meant in complimenting FR on his aphorism, which was a profound and evocative one.
    ___
    As for Cardinal Burke’s sermon, we are literally starved for such words of wisdom. The “science of salvation”. So beautifully put. He is still a relatively young man, and my forlorn hope is that the College of Cardinals, guided by the Holy Spirit, will recognise what a wonderful human being he is and what a brave leader he would be.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    As for St Augustine’s in Ramsgate:

    Do people really think it’s architecturally significant? I wonder. And I grieve for having never worshipped at this church before it closed its doors two years ago:

    …which was built in roughly the same era as Pugin’s gloomy buiding and which, to my mind, is a far superior example of neo-Gothic (with a touch of Romanesque, too), not to mention that it was dedicated to the memory of the only person ever canonized whilst still alive.

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    One last comment: To call any church ‘St Augustine‘s’, or St Andrew‘s or, indeed, St Peter‘s is utterly wrong. I learned that lesson reading this Christopher Howse piece about 8 years ago, which is why my cheques are made payable to the order of St Clement Parish, not St Clement‘s.

  9. Tom Fisher says:

    Truly, Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of lies”(7), cannot stand the truth and love of Christ shining forth in His holy Church. He never takes repose from his deceitful and hateful labors. He is always trying to corrupt the truth… When we see how he has succeeded in corrupting a culture which was once Christian and in sowing the seeds of confusion and error even within the Church herself, we can easily become frightened and discouraged.

    Is the ‘re-evangelization’ of Europe still a priority? Secular Europeans of goodwill may well enter into dialogue with the Church, but that is made less likely by telling them that their culture is “corrupted by Satan”. It is likely to be seen as insulting, ridiculous, or both. — And irregardless it is hardly a sufficient account of the complex changes (for good and ill) European culture has undergone over the last 5 centuries.

  10. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom Fisher says Cardinal Burke’s homily “is likely to be seen as insulting, ridiculous, or both” and that his remarks make re-evangelization of secular Europeans less likely.

    I submit to you that secular Europeans (or wherever) have no intention of engaging with the Church, exactly because their culture is corrupted by Satan. Their intention is to destroy the Church, as the history of “the last 5 centuries” attests. So, my suggestion is to fight (non-violently) the secularists, not to engage them. I have some grudging respect for muslims who fight (non-violently) atheists. Tell me this, Tom Fisher: if there was no such thing as Christianity, would you rather be a secular humanist like Adrian Meades or a muslim? As awful as Muhammed was, at least he saw beyond this mortal coil.

  11. Tom Fisher says:

    Hi Johnhenry, just saw your (very interesting) question/challenge. I’ll dash out a response presently…

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    I’d convert to Bhuddism in a heartbeat rather than be an atheist, agnostic or secular humanist, if those were the only choices open to me. I’d be interested in what others here think about that.

  13. Tom Fisher says:

    Tom Fisher: if there was no such thing as Christianity, would you rather be a secular humanist like Adrian Meades or a muslim? As awful as Muhammed was, at least he saw beyond this mortal coil

    Johnhenry, I think this is a very worthwhile question, and I’m not sure of the best way to answer it. If I post this comment, and then retract it all, and write something different, please forgive me.

    All I can do is tell you a bit about what life has taught me about myself.

    I am instinctively religious. Although born and raised a Catholic, I didn’t believe in Christian revelation for many years. But I never slumped into grey and mechanical materialism. It wasn’t God that I found implausible, it was the claims made by the various religions to know about God that bothered me. For many years I turned to Wordsworth’s Prelude (and other writers, but that was my favourite) for some of the sustenance that we find in Lectio Divina.

    I am instinctively suspicious of people who claim authority I have a libertarian streak, and I value free enquiry. I would generally prefer uncertainty to certainty at the price of submission of my intellectual faculties.

    So in some ways have two impulses pulling in two different directions. So why Christianity? Because Christ. But although I would never ever want to be a pure materialist, I would rather be a free-thinking Deist or Romantic, than submit to Muhammad and his claims to have a hotline to God.

  14. toadspittle says:

    “…than submit to Muhammad and his claims to have a hotline to God.”
    Excellent answer from Tom.
    Imagine anyone having a “hotline to God.” What a ridiculous notion. Which, one anyway?

    What do we see “beyond this mortal coil?” Anything we choose to, really, It seems to me. Rather a fanciful question from JH to prompt it, though. Might as well ask – “if there was no water on earth, would you rather drink your scotch mixed with Coke or Pepsi?”
    …Or would you rather be a…Fish – or a Muslim?

    Possible to be both a Buddhist and an Atheist – if you like. JH.
    Naturally, you wouldn’t like. But there you are.
    It’s also possible to be a Buddhist and a Christian.

  15. Brother Burrito says:

    JH, whenever hypothetical questions rear their heads, I remember the philosopher who asked “What if there were no hypothetical situations?”

    What marks out Jesus is His certainty and authority, and counter-culturalism, and palpable Holiness. Unlike any other religious figure, it is His inexplicable Passion and unexpected Resurrection that are uniquely attractive to me. The Son of the Living God could never stay dead, could he.

    Living things have a different timbre and perfume to dead things. Contrast the green leaves rustling as the breeze lightly combs the tree, to the brittle dead leaves swirling around the compost mound, though even the latter eventually give sustenance to new life coming through.

    I am a synaesthete, perhaps because I was dropped on my head as a baby, and as such I can “hear” written voice. Secular humanist atheists sound cold and mechanical and raspy to me like a mortician’s saw. Radicalised muslim’s sound more alive than that, but of a different, though still hostile order, like a nest of hornets, or a rabid pack.

  16. Tom Fisher says:

    if there was no such thing as Christianity, would you rather be a secular humanist like Adrian Meades or a muslim?

    I’d convert to Bhuddism in a heartbeat rather than be an atheist, agnostic or secular humanist,

    Johnhenry, if Christianity (as per your terms for this) was out of the picture, why would you convert to any other religion, why not simply believe in God? We must always distinguish between God and Religion (at least in principle).

    Secular humanist atheists sound cold and mechanical and raspy to me like a mortician’s saw.

    I have to disagree there BB, or at least register a different experience. Seamus Heaney’s poetry moves me in my deepest being. Bertrand Russell’s love of life often makes me smile, and Berlot Brecht understanding of humanity always makes me think

  17. Tom Fisher says:

    Secular humanist atheists sound cold and mechanical and raspy to me like a mortician’s saw

    The more I reflect on this, the harder I find it to believe. Was it a polemical point? Shelley, Sylvia Plath, Orwell, so many voices in the western tradition, and you hear nothing but a raspy saw? get your ears checked Brother Burrito

  18. Brother Burrito says:

    Sorry for any misunderstanding Tom. I thought we were talking about SHA’s like Adrian Meades, Dawkins, Hitchens and their ilk from the UK national secular society.

    Many of my favourite writers are atheists of the Orwell/Eco/Graves/Stevenson mould. (Full list here)

    I shall go floss my lugholes on your suggestion, nonetheless.

  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Excellent responses received from TF, BB (and even TS) and I stand duly chastened, if not chaste.

    “I would rather be a free-thinking Deist or Romantic, than submit to Muhammad…” says Tom, and reflecting on the above comments, that would indeed be the better alternative, although Toad’s Laphroaig analogy and BB’s remark about the (sometimes) pointlessness of ‘hypotheticals’ are probably the best answers in this case.

  20. toadspittle says:

    That you, or almost any of us on CP&S – JH – can soberly and reasonably examine what he/she has written – and having read responses – then have the honesty to say, “I might have to reconsider,” or whatever – is what makes this an exceptional area of discussion.
    Or so it seems to me. I might be wrong, though.
    The best “hypothetical,” answer I can recall from my life as a hack, was when my boss, Hugh Cudlipp (yet another Atheist, alas) was proffered one. Doesn’t matter now what it actually was: Possibly something like, “If “We’d lost the battle of Lepanto, we’d all be speaking Arabic today, “ was, “Yes, well, if my Aunt Fanny had had two testicles, she’d have been my Uncle Fred, today, wouldn’t she?”

    Horrible, lazy, writing there,. Sorry. …But you get the idea.

  21. toadspittle says:

    http://econ.st/1IRLrSJ

    Can this be the reason so many people are turning away from organised religion? Dunno.

  22. johnhenrycn says:

    Hugh Cudlipp. That’s an interesting name. Knew a dentist once. Perley Outhouse.

  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Your KALtoon link is defective.

  24. GC says:

    JH, I knew a confessor priest once, a Father Tough and a rather ill tempered surgeon, Dr Saw.

    Which is all in the spirit of this blog article . . .

    Non Angli sunt, sed angeli

  25. toadspittle says:

    “Your KALtoon link is defective.”</I.
    …As are a great many things about Toad.
    Never was much good at machinery such as computers.
    Can barely understand the theory of wheelbarrows.

  26. toadspittle says:

    There.
    Proves it.

  27. Tom Fisher says:

    I think the cartoon is behind a pay-wall. Or at least you need to register or somesuch.

  28. johnhenrycn says:

    “Non Angli sunt, sed angeli”

    What a brilliant link, GC. With all due respect to Pope St Gregory the Great, however, I would be hard pressed to come up with a cleverer pun than one written by Schopenhauer after his landlady fell down a flight of stairs:
    “Obit anus, abit onus.”

  29. toadspittle says:

    http://www.economist.com/news/world-week/21639585-kals-cartoon?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/kal/jan17

    Although I find the other post at 1609 on Mar 15, works after about 10 seconds.

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