Holiness of Life and Martyrdom for the Faith (Part II)

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke,
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis

Pentecost Sunday
May 27, 2012

During his pastoral visit to the United Kingdom in September of last year, in his earlier mentioned address at Westminster Hall, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the questions which Saint Thomas More, Martyr, continues to raise to us who are one with him in the Church, Militant, Suffering and Triumphant. He explained, “And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy. Surely, we face, in our time, a similar challenge to our faith as did Saint Thomas More. In the face of the ever-advancing anti-life and anti-family agenda of many who are in power in our culture, we pray, through the intercession of Saint Thomas More, that we may be faithful and courageous in loving Christ in every brother and sister, especially those most in need, those whom our Lord calls ‘the least’ of His brethren.”

There is also martyrdom of persecution. Father Hardon explains: Not all of the faithful who suffer for Christ also die for Christ. Opposition to the Christian faith and way of life does not always end in violent death for the persecuted victims. Consequently it is well to distinguish between what may be called martyrdom of blood and martyrdom of opposition which is bloodless but no less – and sometimes more – painful to endure.

We think, for example, of the persecution of our brothers and sisters in China or in some Islamic societies. While they seem to be free, in the sense that they are not imprisoned, “they are, in effect, deprived of every human liberty to practice their religion and to serve Christ according to their faith.” If we reflect, with some depth, on the martyrdom of opposition, we recognize in certain so-called free nations and in some of their policies and laws an opposition to the Christian adherence to the natural moral law. Think, for instance, of the pharmacist who is compelled by civil courts to fill prescriptions for abortificient drugs, or the priest who is charged by civil authorities with the use of so-called “hate language” because he teaches the truth about the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts. Not without reason, there is greater and greater fear that the Church will be unable to carry out her educational, health-care and charitable works in certain nations because the civil law requires that such Church works cooperate in acts which are always and everywhere wrong.

The Servant of God Father Hardom cites a passage from the Book of Wisdom, regarding how the godless persecute the virtuous who are “a standing rebuke to them.” The passage presents the way of thinking of those who oppose the way of faith, with these words: “Let us oppress the righteous poor man; let us not spare the widow, nor regard the gray hairs of the aged. But let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless. Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions, he reproaches us for our sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.”

This is part 2 of a multiple-part publishing of the article, “Holiness of Life and Martyrdom for the Faith” by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis. Part III will be published in next weekend’s bulletin, June 2 – 3.


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 27, 2012

The Feast of Pentecost: The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit
As a teen, I thought the clergy were supposed to do everything. We laity were just called to pray, pay, and obey. Oh yes, and keep the commandments, of course. The original 10 seemed overwhelming enough. Then I discovered the Sermon on the Mount and nearly passed out.

Perhaps this is why many inactive Catholics are so resentful of their upbringing in the Church. For them, religion means frustration, failure, and guilt.

Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

The seven sacraments do not come from the Church, for she has not the power to create sacraments. Rather, they all were instituted by Christ himself. This is easiest to see in the cases of Baptism and the Eucharist, where he gave the very words and matter in the most explicit terms.

The Solemnity of Pentecost: Called from Safety into Love
The doors were locked. The bar was firmly in place. The Temple police who had hunted Jesus down Thursday evening would not so easily get into the Upper Room on Sunday. The disciples really didn’t know what they should do now that Jesus was dead. What they did know was that for the time being they were in a safe place. They were there on Easter Sunday. Perhaps they were there all fifty days after that fateful Passover. The Acts of the Apostles has them there for those fifty days, thus the name Pentecost. The Gospel of John doesn’t mention how long they were there. But it also points out that the disciples were in a safe place.

Do you know the proper name of the Holy Spirit? (Saint Augustine & St Thomas Aquinas)
As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, it’s a good time to review our knowledge of the forgotten Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and from the procession the Holy Spirit receives His proper name. Saint Augustine, that great Doctor of the Church, teaches

As “to be born” is, for the Son, to be from the Father, so, for the Holy
Ghost, “to be the Gift of God” is to proceed from Father and Son.
– Saint Augustine, De Trinitate 4, 20.

Five Keys for Integrating your Faith and your Life
Have you ever played a part, taking on a role of someone else? Some might think back to an occasion when they participated in a school play. Others might think about their roles in business or sales, or even within the home as parents when they might have employed the “good cop – bad cop” approach to resolve a problem. But, what I am thinking of here is more fundamental and of vitally greater importance to our spiritual health.

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines hypocrisy as “…the pretension to qualities which one does not possess or… the putting forward of a false appearance of virtue or religion.”

Understanding Infallibility
The Protestant is not usually aware of these basic assumptions. They are just there. They are beneath the surface. That’s why I call them foundational. The first foundational assumption is that popes are pretty much a bad thing. When they hear the word “Pope” they think immediately of a corpulent Renaissance monarch. They think of a fellow who dines with his courtesans and makes his “nephews” into cardinals at the age of fourteen. They imagine a lush, decadent fellow with his catamite or an arrogant monster who rides out to war and comes home to tell Michelangelo how to paint. When they hear “Pope” they think of the Spanish Inquisition and the “Secret Archives” and whisperings of conspiracy and Italians and the mafia and the Vatican Bank and international intrigue. So the first assumption is that “Pope” simply means “monster”.

Are All Sins Equally Bad? Are All Saints Equally Good?
Protestants typically believe that all sins are equally bad, and all Saints are equally good. For example, a Kansas middle school teacher is in hot water for writing, according to the Huffington Post, that “Being Gay Is ‘The Same As Murder’.” Despite the quotation marks, the teacher didn’t actually write that. Instead, he wrote:

All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins.It ranks in God’s eyes the same asmurder, lying, stealing, or cheating. His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell.

A Question about Veneration vs. Adoration
A reader writes:

I entered the Church last month, so I’ve already done plenty of personal study on the subjects of latria and dulia. I’m well acquainted with their *theoretical* differences. What I’m interested in now is their *practical* differences. How, in practice, do I venerate a saint or image without crossing over into adoration, and how do I actually go about adoring God, in Heaven or the Sacrament, in a way that is unique from veneration? I have the nagging suspicion that these are stupid questions with common-sense answers, but I thought I’d ask all the same. Thanks for clearing up the waters!

Escape From Apathy-ville
Please join me for a moment of honest self-reflection.

Do you ever feel numb or helpless in the face of all the problems the world faces each day?

One only has to watch the news or follow the events of the day online to feel completely overwhelmed. Some of the challenges facing the world include ever-increasing threats to our Catholic faith. The Church is being accosted on all sides and the culture wars are raging. We are locked in an ongoing series of battles over the HHS Mandate, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and immigration. There is a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and in some areas of our country, parishes are nearly empty. The sex abuse crisis in the Church continues to dominate the headlines of the mainstream media. These are real issues which demand a response.

150 Titles of Christ from the Scriptures
There are many, many titles of Christ in both the New and Old Testaments. As one prays and studies them, they amount to a mini-Catechesis of the Lord Jesus.

Presented below are over 150 titles of Christ. I have also presented “hot-links” to the Scriptures from which they are drawn for your further study. The list is compiled from various sources, but most come from The Catholic Source Book, compiled and edited by Fr. Peter Klein. I have also placed this article in PDF Format here: The Titles of Jesus Christ in Scripture, if you’d like to print or save the material for later reference.

Four Things Boys Learn From Their Fathers
A great reflection on fatherhood and formation from 5th Grade teacher Tom Steenson.

1. How to deal with, look at, and think about women[1]

Fatherly experience teaches two important lessons: First, boys, from a very young age, want to be with their father, and will model their behavior after his. Second, Dad’s voice can be heard over and above almost any crowd. These facts argue for a father’s key role in his son’s forming the virtue of chastity.

10 Questions Your 7-Year-Old Catholic Should be Able to Answer
Ten Questions your seven-year-old should be able to answer (besides ‘Why did God make you?’):

  1. What are the two kinds of sin (original and actual)

  2. What are the two kinds of actual sin (mortal and venial)? What’s the difference?

  3. Name the three Persons of the Holy Trinity

  4. Is there one God or three Gods?

  5. Name the 7 Sacraments

  6. Name the 10 Commandments

8 Quotes from St. John Chrysostom on How to Raise Children
Listers, one of the most important basis for children’s spiritual formation is a strong foundation of faith made by their parents. This task is a massive long-term undertaking, which requires the parents to approach their vocation with fear and trembling. St. John Chrysostom was not ignorant of this. In fact mingled in his great orations concerning deep theological matters, he often addressed parents on how to raise their children in holiness. Many people suggest that his ideas on parenting appear to antiquated. Although I believe it would foolish not to at least reflect on his words and find way to apply his teachings from a modern standpoint into our families. The following quotes are some interesting exhortations from the golden-mouthed saint about parenting:

The Lifestyleof Catholicism
For the first Christians, Christianity was a lifestyle. They shared a common life. Living in community, they often worked together, prayed together, and studied the Scriptures together. Their faith was the center of their lives and it affected everything they did. They shared meals together, played together, and cared for each other in sickness. They allowed the principles of the Gospel to guide them in the activities of their daily lives. They comforted each other in their afflictions and challenged each other to live the Gospel more fully. There was unity and continuity between their professional lives and their family lives, between their social lives and their lives as members of the Church. They allowed the Holy Spirit to guide them in all they did. Then, at the pinnacle of their common life, they celebrated Eucharist together.

Imaginary Saints
We tend to love saints—provided they are safely dead.

When they are alive, kicking up a storm, challenging us to live out the Gospel, they act like a thorn in our conscience.

The saints inspire awe. There is nothing more holy—or terrifying—than reading what St. Catherine of Siena wrote about wayward clergy in her searing Dialogue; few sermons in Christendom equal the power of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s on the enticements of the world; and how many of us would have the courage of a St. Charles Borromeo, who, as he implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent, had his life threatened multiple times?


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