Cardinal Burke's Homily on Feast of St. Charles Borromeo
Here below is an English translation of a homily given last week in German by Cardinal Raymond Burke. The Mass in the Extraordinary Form was celebrated on Nov. 4, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, in Vienna's Karlskirche, an 18th century church dedicated to St. Charles. The homily was well received by those present and is republished here, with Cardinal Burke's kind permission.
FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR
4 NOVEMBER 2014
Eph 3, 8-12 , Mt 25, 14-23
Praised be Jesus Christ!
It is a source of particular joy to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the feastday of Saint Charles Borromeo in this magnificent church dedicated to the Savior and to His exemplary high priest, Saint Charles. The extraordinary beauty of this church is a reflection of the even more extraordinary beauty of the holiness of life of Saint Charles, heroic pastor in the completion of the extraordinary work of the Council of Trent and in the implementation of its teaching and discipline for the salvation of countless souls. The church building itself and its artistic appointments inspire us to contemplate the life of Saint Charles and to strive to imitate his heroic holiness in the circumstances of our daily living, most of all, in the offering of worship to God “in spirit and in truth.”
The offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest expression of the life in Christ which we share with Saint Charles and all the saints. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, descends to the altars of our churches and chapels to make present anew for His Sacrifice on Calvary. Dwelling with us, He pours forth from His glorious pierced Heart the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit to inspire and strengthen us for every good and holy thought, word, and deed.
Contemplating the life of Saint Charles in the context of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, let us reflect, in particular, on the praise of the high priest in the Book of Sirach. The sacred text tells us that “no one has been found like him in glory; he kept the law of the Most High.” The greatness of the high priest depends upon his attention to the divine law written upon the human heart, and articulated and illuminated by the inspired Word of Christ communicated to us in the Church.
While the most exalted activities of the high priest are teaching the Mystery of Faith and making it present through the Sacraments, above all, though the offering of the Holy Mass, he is first disposed to carry out these most sacred acts by the discipline of His own life, in accord with the law of God. Saint Charles Borromeo understood that the Church’s doctrine and discipline were the irreplaceable conditions for the encounter with Christ and the daily conversion of life to Christ by following Him on the only way which leads to eternal life, the way of the Cross. It was thus that he dedicated himself so heroically to bringing to a good conclusion the work of the Council of Trent and to implementing the work of the Council, once it was concluded, in the portion of God’s flock entrusted to his priestly care, first in Rome and then in Milan.
Saint Charles understood that the grace of Holy Orders, given to him at a tender age, had transformed him and his personal gifts, so that he belonged completely to Christ in the fulfillment of His high-priestly office. To be entrusted with such a gift of grace demanded that Saint Charles be attentive to even the smallest aspect of his priestly ministry, so that he might be a faithful, generous and pure physician of souls. He understood the profound meaning of the parable by which Our Lord teaches us to be attentive in using our talents – be they five or two or one – in the service of the Master. Such loving attention to even the smallest things is our way to joy and peace, both in the present life and in the life which is to come. Thus we understand the words of the master to his servant: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”
Commenting on the early call of Saint Charles to assist his uncle, Pope Pius IV, in the work of the reform of the Church in the wake of the violent upheaval of the Protestant Revolution, Dom Prosper Guéranger writes:
Charles did not hesitate. With faith to supply for his want of experience, he understood that to the torrent of errors which threatened to deluge the world Rome must first of all oppose, as an embankment, that undivided truth of which she is the guardian.
Saint Charles devoted himself to the Church’s discipline, in order that the faithful, beginning with himself, would be most fully disposed to the fullness of life in Christ through the teaching of the faith, divine worship and the practice of the virtues.
Writing about the service of Saint Charles to Pope Pius IV in the reforms mandated by the Council of Trent, Dom Guéranger observes:
He caused the liturgical books to be revised, and the Roman catechism to be compiled. But first, and in all things, he was himself the living model of the renewed discipline, and thus acquired the right to exercise his zeal for or against others. Rome, initiated by him in the salutary reform of which it was fitting she should set the first example, was in a few months completely transformed.
Once he had completed his service in Rome, he took up the reform of Church in the Archdiocese of Milan of which he was Archbishop. He attended with tireless care to every aspect of Church life, in accord with the mandates of the Council of Trent.
Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we think, in particular, of the manner in which Saint Charles tirelessly worked to preserve the incomparable beauty of the Rite of the Mass, in accord with the reforms of the Council of Trent. Saint Charles not only understood that careful attention to the discipline of life was the foundation of true worship of God, but he also saw in the intricate beauty of the Rite of the Mass the reflection of the beauty of a virtuous life, of a life of pure and selfless love of God and of neighbor. In that regard, he also gave detailed instructions to the faithful regarding the church building, in order that sacred art and architecture in every way be at the service of the Mystery of Faith. One thinks, for example, of the wonderful development of the tabernacle as a central part of the sanctuary under his careful study and direction.
In these days of so much turmoil in the world and within the Church, let us pray for our Bishops, through the intercession of Saint Charles Borromeo that by keeping “the law of the Most High,” by faithful attention to even the little things of the pastoral care of the flock, they may lead many souls to eternal life. In a special way, let us pray that their attention to the Sacred Liturgy may be for them and for all in their spiritual care the cause of a more pure and selfless love of God and of neighbor. May Saint Charles intercede for us all, that we may grow ever more in the likeness of Christ by our devotion to sound Catholic doctrine and discipline.
Pope Saint John Paul II, in continuity with his baptismal patron, Saint Charles Borromeo, reminded us that, before the great challenges of our time, we will not save ourselves and our world by discovering “some magic formula” or by “inventing a new programme.” In unmistakable terms, he declared:
No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you.
He reminded us that the program by which we are to address effectively the great spiritual challenges of our time is, in the end, Jesus Christ alive for us in the Church. He explained:
The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its center in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a program which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication.
In short, the program leading to freedom and happiness is, for each of us, holiness of life, in accord with our state in life. May Saint Charles Borromeo be our great teacher and intercessor in pursuing the holiness of life to which we are called.
Let us now lift up our hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus opened for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Let us lift up to the Heart of Jesus all of the intentions of the Church in our time, above all, the intention of fidelity to doctrine and discipline, even in the smallest of matters. In the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, our hearts, like the heart of Saint Charles, will be healed of sin and inflamed with devotion to the discipline by which we grow daily in love of God and of our neighbor.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us!
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop and Confessor, pray for us!
Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE
 Jn 4, 24.
 Sir 44, 19-20.
 Cf. Mt 16, 24
 Mt 25, 21. 23.
 “Charles n’hésita pas. Appelant la foi au secours de son inexpérience, il comprit qu’au déluge d’erreurs sous lequel le monde menaçait de périr, Rome se devait avant tout d’opposer comme digue l’intégrale vérité don’t elle est la gardienne; …”. Prosper Guéranger, L’Année Liturgique, Le Temps après la Pentecôte, Tome VI, 11ème éd. (Tours : Maison Alfred Mame et Fils, 1925, p. 210. English translation: Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Time after Pentecost, Book VI, tr. The Benedictines of Stanbrook Abbey (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2000), p. 167.
 “La revision des livres liturgiques, la rédaction du Catéchisme romain l’eurent pour promoteur. Avant tout, et sur toutes choses, il fut l’exemplaire vivant de la discipline renouvelée, acquérant ainsi le droit de s’en montrer envers et contre tous l’infatigable zélateur. Rome, initiée par lui à la réforme salutaire où il convenait quélle précédât l’armée entière des chrétiens, se transforma en quelques mois.” Ibid., p. 213. English translation: Ibid., p. 169.
 Carolus Borromeo, Instructionum Fabricae et Supellectilis Ecclesiasticae, Liber II, ed. Massimo Marinelli (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000).
 Ibid., pp. 37-38.
 “formulam veluti «magicam» … excogitando «novo consilio». Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Epistula Apostolica Novo Millennio Ineunte, “Magni Iubilaei anni MM sub exitum,” 6 Ianuarii 2001, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 93 (2001), 285, n. 29. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, “At the Close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000,” 6 January 2001, Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2001, p. 39, no. 29.
 “Nullo modo: servabit nos nulla formula, verum Persona una atque certitudo illa quam nobis Ipsa infundit: Ego vobiscum sum!” Ibid., 285, n. 29. English translation: Ibid., p. 39, no. 29.
 “Iam enim praesto est consilium seu «programma»: illud nempe quod de Evangelio derivatur semper vivaque Traditione. Tandem in Christo ipso deprehenditur istud, qui sane cognoscendus est, diligendus atque imitandus, ut vita in eo trinitaria ducatur et cum eo historia ipsa transfiguretur ad suam usque in Hierosolymis caelestibus consummationem. Institutum enim hoc, variantibus quidem temporibus ipsis atque culturae formis non mutatur quamvis rationem quidem habeat temporis et culturae, ut verum instituat diverbium efficacemque communicationem.” Ibid., 285-286, n. 29. English translation: Ibid., pp. 39-40, no. 29.