A Homily given by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, given at Corpus Christi Shrine, Maiden Lane, London on 16th September 2019 on the feast of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop at a Pontifical Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form, hosted by The Latin Mass Society. Photos by John Aron.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
It is a source of great joy for me to visit for the first time Corpus Christi Church, Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, built in reparation for sins committed against the Holy Eucharist. Knowledge and love of our Eucharistic Lord is the heart of our faith and of the life of faith. As Saint Thomas Aquinas taught, “…the common spiritual good of the whole Church is contained substantially in the sacrament of the Eucharist.” How much reparation is needed today for the ignorance of and negligence toward the Most Blessed Sacrament.
I am pleased, too, that my visit comes at the time of the 12thanniversary of the taking effect of the liturgical discipline contained in the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio, “Summorum Pontificum,”on September 14ththe Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in 2007. What is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite has been faithfully observed in this magnificent church since the 1970s. In a special way, tonight, let us thank God for the incomparable gift of Divine Worship and, in particular, for the form which has been handed down to us since the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
I recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI, regarding the great care taken by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, so that the Rite of the Mass be in accord with the liturgical practices handed down through the uninterrupted Apostolic Tradition, so that the faith be transmitted in its integrity and that confused and error be avoided:
In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many people in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.
I commend the apostolate of the Latin Mass Society in promoting the Usus Antiquiorfor the great spiritual good of the entire Church.
I thank Dr. Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, for the invitation to celebrate the Pontifical Low Mass tonight. I am deeply grateful to all who have made possible my visit to Corpus Christi Church, and I thank especially the Parish Priest, Fr Alan Robinson, who sadly cannot be with us tonight. I am offering the Holy Mass for all those who participate in the apostolate of the Latin Mass Society.
The martyrdom of Pope Saint Cornelius and Saint Cyprian, Bishop, occurred at a most difficult time in the Roman Empire and in the Church. Dom Prosper Guéranger, in his commentary for today’s feast, describes the situation during the years in which Saint Cyprian served as Bishop of Carthage in North Africa:
Those ten years represent one of the most troubled periods of history. In the empire, anarchy was rife; the frontiers were the scene of repeated invasions; pestilence was raging everywhere: in the Church, a long peace, which had lulled men’s souls to sleep, was followed by the persecutions of Decius, Gallus, and Valerian. The first of these, suddenly bursting like a thunderstorm, caused the fall of many; which evil, in its turn, led to schisms, on account of the too great indulgence of some, and the excessive rigor of others, towards the lapsed.
The description fits exactly Our Lord’s description of the sufferings of His disciples in the Gospel. In fact, studying the history of the Church, we see how the Church is called in every period of her history to accept her part in the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of the world.
How does Our Lord interpret these trials for his disciples? He says quite plainly:
This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
Christ alive in us by the outpouring of innumerable graces from His glorious pierced Heart into our hearts is the source of our confidence in the midst of sufferings which would seem to crush our faith and destroy the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Saints Cyprian and Cornelius are examples of such confidence in Christ, even in the face of martyrdom. They also intercede for us, so that we never forget that Christ has won the victory over sin and death. It is for us to remain intimately united to Him, branches grafted securely onto the vine. He will never fail us. He will never fail to provide for us in abundance the grace of faithful and enduring love of God and of our neighbor.
The account of the glorious martyrdoms of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian during a most troubled time in the history of the world and of the Church confirms us in the way that we must follow in these most troubled and most troubling times, both in the world and within the Church. We must have the trust which the Book of Wisdom teaches us:
For though in the sight of men [the just] were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of Himself.
The grace of such trust sustained Saints Cyprian and Cornelius in giving their lives for love of Christ and of His Church, His beloved Bride. With the help of God’s grace they endured the supreme test and showed themselves to be of one heart with the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus. Let us ask our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, to intercede for us, so that the life of Christ within our souls may grow always stronger, so that we may offer our lives to God and to one another in pure and self-sacrificing love.
Christ now makes sacramentally new His Sacrifice on Calvary, inviting us to join our hearts to His glorious pierced Heart ever opened to receive us. Let us offer our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mother of Christ, to His Most Sacred Heart. From His Heart may we never fail to draw the grace needed to be His faithful soldiers, His true witnesses after the heart of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian. May our endurance in the truth and love of Christ gain for us eternal life.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
O Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.
Saint Joseph, Protector of holy Church, pray for us.
Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, pray for us.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Monday 16th September 2019
Corpus Christi Shrine, Maiden Lane, London