Interview with Cardinal Burke, Part 3

Cdl. Burke, Spring 2008. (Creative Commons license)

Recently, I had the great honor to have an audience with His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke to discuss the state of Catholic men in the United States.

Part One is here, and Part Two is here. The following is the third and final part:

Matthew Christoff:  One of the frequent themes in the New Emangelization Project research is that large numbers of men do not understand the Mass. Men think that the Mass is feminized and they don’t really understand the powerful manliness of the Mass. This is particularly true of a majority of Catholic men who are Casual Catholic Men, men who are casual about their faith. This is critical because if a man doesn’t understand the Mass he can’t tap into the supernatural graces that occur in the Mass. A man who doesn’t understand the Mass himself certainly can’t teach his children about the Mass.

Cardinal Burke:  Yes. One way to re-engage men is to restore the dignity of the liturgy. Men will respond when they see a priest reverently acting in the name of Christ. Men will not respond when the priest is putting on a show about himself. Offering the Mass in a reverent way has always attracted men throughout the history of the Church. It does today.

We need to catechize men about the profound realities of the Mass. As I mentioned, catechesis has been poor, especially the catechesis of men. Catechizing men and celebrating the Mass in a reverent way will make a big difference. It is also clear that many men will respond to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the rite celebrated before the Vatican II Council reforms.

I have been very struck by the number of young men who were attracted to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. This is not because the Extraordinary Form is more valid than the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form. Men are attracted because the Extraordinary Form is very highly articulated; it demands a man’s attention to what’s happening. Even the use of a hand missal where there’s a verbal accompaniment to the action of the Mass can help a man more fully enter into the Mass.

The Ordinary Form, if it’s celebrated very reverently with good music, can have the same strong positive effect on men. Men don’t go in for this kind of corny approach to the Mass when it becomes some kind of feel-good session, or where there is irreverence. Men are there to receive Jesus Christ. They need to see Him, to see His presence reflected in the reverent manner of the priest.

Matthew:  The Sacrament of Reconciliation has also been abandoned by the vast majority of Catholic men. Only 1 in 50 men go to Confession on a monthly basis. Some 80 percent of men don’t get to Confession even once a year. Combined with the epidemic of pornography, especially among young men, large numbers of Catholic men are in mortal sin. How can the Church reintroduce and emphasize the need for men to go to Confession?

Cardinal Burke:  Until men understand that there is Sin, and what Sin is, and that Sin offends God gravely, they will not go to Confession. Men need to have an encounter with God, with our Lord in the Sacrament of Penance to confess their Sins, express their sorrow, and receive His forgiveness.

Men are not going to Confession today because there has been a denial of Sin. There was a period after Vatican II where many were promoting the idea that there weren’t any serious sins.

Of course, this is lethal for men, especially young men. Young men may begin to engage in the sexual sin of masturbation. Men have told me that when they were teenagers, they confessed the sin of masturbation in the confessional and priests would say, “Oh, that’s nothing you should be confessing. Everybody does that.” That’s wrong.

These are sinful acts. They need to be confessed along with other types of sins, whether the sins are foul language, lying, stealing, or whatever it might be. The denial of sin was a breakdown in the sense of what is demanded of men as men of Christ.

Confronting sin is central to being able to love one another. How does a man love? He loves by obeying the Ten Commandments. After Vatican II, that great call to love by confronting sin was lost, leading to the most horrible abuses of individuals, abusing themselves or others, the break down of family life, a precipitous drop in Mass attendance and the abandonment of the Sacrament of Penance. We must restore the sense of sin to men, for men to recognize their sins and express deep sorrow for their sins.

When this happens, Confession becomes a mysteriously beautiful experience for a man. For a man can know with certainty that he has personally expressed his sorrow for his sins to God, he can hear the freeing words of God through His minister and that his sins are forgiven and absolved.

Matthew: What concrete advice would you give to a priest to help him evangelize men and dramatically increase the involvement of men in a parish?

Cardinal Burke:  First of all, be manly yourself. In other words, cultivate your own manly qualities, because the priest is first and foremost the spiritual father; he is a man. You need to have manly qualities of selflessness, chivalry and discipline to avoid situations improper for a priest. A priest must have the manly confidence and credibility to be a spiritual father to his flock, giving clear firm guidance with kindness and charity.

Secondly, I’d advise priests to give special attention to men and to look for ways to draw men into the life of the Church. It is easier to engage women because our sisters tend to be very generous and talented.   But the Church and each priest needs to make a determined effort to draw good Catholic men into whatever activities there are in the Church. It is essential to the New Evangelization.

Matthew:  Any parting thoughts Your Eminence?

Cardinal Burke:  I very much commend your work in the New Emangelization. It’s key to the New Evangelization.

When the French government unilaterally imposed the so‑called same‑sex marriage, which of course is not marriage at all, it brought out two million people who rallied behind the simple image of fathers and mothers holding the hands of their children. Fathers are essential to the family.

Men need to reflect on their own experience, even if it was negative. If a father was missing in their lives, men need to realize what they needed in a father and a mother. Fathers and mothers are wonderful gifts that are given to us by God.

So too is the beautiful gift of our human sexuality as God intended it, not as, sadly, the many sick abuses of the gift of sexuality that are occurring in the world today. The dark confusion of gender theory deceives people into thinking that they can create their own sexual identities based on urges and emotions. We are so blessed God gave us this gift of being a man or being a woman. It’s a matter of us to respond to God’s will to develop our gifts of being a man or woman.

Matthew, I want to commend you. I believe what you are doing is key to the future strengthening of the life of the Church, and obviously to our whole society.

Matthew: Praise God. Your Eminence, thank you so much for spending time with us.

Cardinal Burke:  I am happy to be a part of it, a little part. [laughs]

Matthew:  [laughs]

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27 thoughts on “Interview with Cardinal Burke, Part 3”

  1. The Kindness of a Shepherd


    For Peter and Theresa Martin’s second son, life has not always been easy. Louis (pronounced loo-ee) was born with a rare disease (from a genetic mutation) that left his doctors confused and parents helpless for many years. For the first five years of his life, he suffered tremendously. He was on the couch surviving more than he was playing with his brothers and friends. Yet, instead of bitterness, his heart deepened in love and compassion through it all.

    One Good Friday, his mother recalls, when he was four years old, he had to stay behind with his mother when his father and brothers went to the 7 Church Walk in their town. His skin was pale and eyes sunken, and his mother remembers thinking how heartbreaking it all was. “We had no answers and he just kept getting worse. I looked at his frail, ghostly figure and just cried. I then told him he could watch whatever video he wanted, because he was sick and I just wanted him to feel better! And do you know what this sweet 4 year old boy said to me?” she told us, “He said, ‘mama, I want to watch a video about Jesus, because he died today and he was hurting more than me.’ Yes, I cried again. What an amazing child!”

    His parents finally received a correct diagnosis for Louis and when he began nightly injections of the proper medicine, his condition improved almost miraculously. He began to grow again; he could finally sleep through the night without the cranial pressure and nighttime vomiting; he could walk without pain; he could thrive! It was an answer to the family’s prayers. Yet, even as his physical condition improved his heart remained deeply passionate. His parents shared how he has his own way of doing things and many don’t understand his personality, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. Even though he still cries when remembering how he suffered, his view on life is hopeful and full of laughter and mischief. His love for Jesus continues to grow as well.

    It was a little over a year ago on August 3, 2013 at the Shrine, that Louis’ older brother Gregory received his 1st Communion, along with three other children, from His Eminence Cardinal Burke. Louis sat with his family during the Mass and yet, afterwards he wouldn’t say a word. Finally, his parents discovered that he was heart broken that he couldn’t receive Jesus in the Eucharist like his brother. What happened next sent ripples of unexpected love through Louis’ family and through out the world. Cardinal Burke came to greet the families of the first communicants after Mass. He had a little gift for each one. When he approached the Martins, he gave Gregory his gift, but then saw Louis crying. There are some who when seeing a child crying don’t think much of it; children do cry for any number of reasons. Yet, Cardinal Burke didn’t just smile at the sad child, he asked what was wrong. Louis’ mother explained to His Eminence how he was sad that he did not get to receive his 1st Communion as well. Cardinal Burke looked compassionately at Louis. And this young boy, instead of turning away, leaned into the cardinal, grabbing his robes, and wept. His Eminence embraced him warmly and said, “don’t worry! Your first Communion will come soon enough!” Louis’ mother said he doesn’t normally open up to strangers, but there was something so full of love and tenderness in Cardinal Burke that she was not entirely surprised to see Louis who is so compassionate himself respond to such kindness of a true Shepherd of the Church.

    The moment happened to be captured by Louis’ grandmother and the image once online went viral in days. It could be found on many websites all around the world in many languages and still continues to be used. It is a photo that cuts through the political arguments, impersonal theories and bickering “sides” and reveals the true heart of Christ in His Church. It was a moment the Martins said they would never forget.

    The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was honored to be a part of this beautiful moment and now we saw it come to fulfillment. On December 12, 2014, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe herself, young Louis Martin received his first Holy Communion at the hands of His Eminence, Cardinal Burke, with his family all in attendance.

    May our hearts be emboldened to desire Christ with such love and to reach out to encourage one another in love. As Cardinal Burke was, may we also be vehicles of the compassion of our Lady as she brings all to her Son. As Our Lady of Guadalupe told us, “I will show Him, I will exalt Him and make Him manifest. I will give Him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassion, in my help, in my protection: because I am truly your merciful Mother … Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings.”

    1. What a beautiful story about CB and the Martins. Thank you for sharing…….
      Something for all the men out there – reflect on King David’s testament: ‘ Be strong and show yourself a man. Observe the injunctions of Yahweh your God, following his ways and keeeping his laws, his commandments, his customs and his decrees………….’ 1Kings 2:2

  2. The fundamental problem isn’t that men do not understand the “manliness of the mass.” I attended Catholic mass for the first 16 years of my life, describing mass as “manly” is more than just a little odd. Quite frankly, all the talk of manly masses and manly priests is off-putting to say the least, especially considering recent context.

    No, the problem is the idea that men are supposed to submit themselves to an invisible force on the “authority” of ancient texts. Nietzsche had the guts to write that Christianity forced men into submission, telling them to become something meek, and to stifle the desire to become something great. Men like to think of themselves as alpha males, and this makes it difficult and unnatural to submit to a religious hierarchy.

    1. I hope there is more thought behind this summary of his intellectual pronouncement.

      Having served in the military himself he would have known that men have regularly in history submitted to a controlling hierarchy in pursing what is considered very manly occupations. Sailing also has this history of absolute obedience with the opportunity to excel and achieve.

    2. It is impossible to summarize Nietzsche in a few sentences, and I surely doubt the readers of this particular blog want to get too deep into Nietzschean philosophy. He does make for fascinating reading, and is a gifted writer. If you want to learn more, start with Beyond Good and Evil.

      As for the military, there are leaders, no doubt. But the vast majority, at least in Nietzsche’s time, were conscripted front line grunts, pawns in a larger game of nationalism, fighting for the wealthy few. In the Prussian and German military, officers were from the officer class, and conscripts were from the vast lower classes.

    3. I have read him years ago but was more interested in the transcendentalists.

      I find that well known writers and activists from about the last 500 years to the present who made a home in Prussia, Germany, Austria; that general area are responsible for much of the misery in the world that we and others have had to endure.

      If it was only the officer corps or not, the military fits my example.

    4. I hope you would not include Kant in the group of “well known writers and activists” who caused so much misery. We can disagree on everything else but Kant is truly one of history’s most adept minds.

    5. Yes but of what value is the human mind, compared to Gods word? If God thought mens thoughts could lead to God, He would have left it to men to do so.
      I have known carpenters that were much more wise than Kant.

    6. The human brain has the distinct advantage of existing within the confines of known time and space. It has been studied and dissected, compared to similar animal brains. We can run CT scans and FMRIs to analyze and study it.

      What you call “Gods word” is accepted by faith, not empirical evidence. Given that the human mind is a tool I use every day, and happily interact with other beings with human minds, I would say that the human mind has far more value to me than “Gods word.” Sixteen years of Catholic education and “Gods word” never once spoke truth to me.

    7. You are a true believer, and it would take you twenty years to undue the false knowledge you have learned. Plus you won’t find the truth in the same places you have been trained. You are the product of over 500 years of “science” trying to get rid of God. My only advice is to read the stories of the few and far between great scientists. Only in their stories is the humility of just how little man knows about anything, seen.
      Given what you believe, why are you on this site?

      I leave you with this quote; “True science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts” – Richard Feynman

    8. “You are the product of over 500 years of “science” trying to get rid of God.”

      Says the guy typing on a computer on an internet forum. Be sure to get nice and cozy in your heated home and enjoy all that science.

      I appreciate the psychoanalysis, and my reduction into a caricature. I was pointed to this site by a friend who shares my enthusiasm for Cardinal Dolan’s buffoonery. And, having been baptized and confirmed a Catholic, I suppose my voice carries perhaps a tiny mote of relevance in the Catholic world, after all — I am a man and I rejected the Catholic Church.

    9. Einstein was a believer in God, as he said he was. Einstein said, “the more I learn of science the more I believe in God”.
      But then again Einstein made lots of mistakes; the biggest one was he didn’t believe his own theory of an expanding universe. He had to be taken to the largest telescope in California, by Hubble, and shown the red shift of the stars, then he believed his own theory.

    10. nice post – guess I was righter than I knew when saying he didn’t believe any of them.
      I do recall he spent the rest of his life trying to develop a Unified Field Theory to go up against Quantum mechanics and God playing chance with the universe.

    11. I “kant” agree. He was the central figure, and still is, who instilled our consciousness in the idea that permeates almost all of modern and post-modern thinking – the autonomy of man. In other words, the elimination of God.

      I also left the church at about 15 or 16, the Episcopal church. At that age to leave means to express your autonomy rather mindlessly.

      Please give me your best response to my questioning of your understanding of Nietzsche’s view of authority and hierarchy. Keeping in mind that he was probably on a “fast track” as an officer.

    12. You are exactly right; the spirit of the antichrist was powerful in Prussia. Of course there was no “Germany” for most of the history of Prussia.

    13. Yes, Jesus was meek, and He was the most powerful man that ever lived. The Church is a tad bit larger than the collection of the followers of Nietzsche. Not to mention the other things that Jesus did and will do in the future.
      My family once prayed for a man that had lung cancer; God healed him. Can the greatest man on earth heal that man by his word?

  3. Pingback: Muslim Massacre Kills Thousands of Christians -

  4. Thank god, this interview is done! Probably did more damage to the New Evangelization than any solitary event.

    As John Prager in Addicting Info aptly says:

    Sorry ladies, but your silly demands for “rights” are destroying the Catholic Church, and preventing priests from once again having a full stock of altar boys ready and willing to tell them the filthy details of what they do with their own bodies. You little troublemakers, you.”

    1. You sound more like one with a personal dislike for Cardinal Burke than one who brings legitimate arguments against what he has stated in the interview. For one who likes Cardinal Burke, that is two strikes against your argument being convincing.

    2. Yes, I dislike every idea he presents in the interview… does Pope Francis which is why he demoted him….chaplain of the Knights of Malta. Not very high on the Pope’s list!

    3. I get that you don’t like what Cardinal Burke says, but do you expect this alone to be convincing to me that what he says is off-base? Does one need the favorable opinion of Phil Dzialo first in order to be confirmed in issuing true statements?

      You then speculate on what the Pope’s opinion is of C. B., and even if you’re right, what does it prove about C. B.’s ideas as presented in the interview? Does it mean everything C.B. says is groundless? Does one need the good opinion of the Pope in order to speak truth?

    4. +AMDG

      Would you contradict Pope Francis???

      Referring to Cardinal Burke, the Pope said:
      “.. we needed a smart American who would know how to get around..”

      -His Holiness Pope Francis, latest interview, Elisabetta Piqué | LA NACION

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