Reviving devotion

Archbishop Raymond Burke comes to Syracuse for Sacred Heart Conference
By connie cissell / SUN editor

LIVERPOOL — More than 300 people — couples, children, seniors, teens, religious and clergy came together over the weekend at the 2007 Sacred Heart Family Conference held at the convention center at the Holiday Inn. Archbishop Raymond Burke from the Archdiocese of St. Louis was the keynote speaker on Friday, Aug. 24. The conference ran from Aug. 23-26.

The dates highlighted more than one theme. It was the 10th anniversary of Bishop James Moynihan’s enthronement of the Syracuse Diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and renewed consecration to the Blessed Virgin. It was the 100th anniversary of Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey’s founding of the apostolate of the home enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Besides the milestones, the focus of the conference was “Building a Civilization of Love.” There were workshops pertaining to women, to men, to young people and to widows, widowers and singles. Musical entertainment and accompaniment was provided by the ministry of the Intercessors of the Lamb. They added a fun dimension to the festivities with their upbeat musicianship and their ability to move the crowd. Presenters throughout the weekend included Johnnette Benkovic, Christopher West, Mother Nadine Brown and many more.

Opening Mass at the conference was celebrated by Archbishop Burke who blessed the group of 300-plus on the morning of Aug. 24. Bishop Moynihan had met the archbishop at Syracuse’s airport the previous afternoon. Msgr. John Essef, a retreat leader from the Scranton Diocese, offered the homily.

Archbishop Burke was born in 1948 in Richland, Wis. He was ordained in 1975 by Pope Paul VI at St. Peter Basilica in Rome. His tenure at the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis. included assignments as adjunct judicial vicar, associate rector at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, Moderator of the Curia and vice chancellor. He was appointed visiting professor of  Canonical Jurisprudence at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 1985-1994. He was named Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Roman Curia) by Pope John Paul II in 1989. He was named Prelate of Honor of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1993 and named bishop of La Crosse in 1994. The list of his accomplishments and appointments leading up to his installation as archbishop in St. Louis in 2003 is a long one. He was again appointed to the Roman Curia by Pope Benedict XVI in July, 2006.

Bishop Moynihan re-dedicated the diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a declaration he read before Archbishop Burke began his presentation. Bishop James Moynihan welcomed Archbishop Burke to the conference and introduced him before the keynote address. He spoke of their relationship through their membership in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Making a lighthearted reference to E.F. Hutton television commercials, Bishop Moynihan said, “Whenever Archbishop Raymond Burke stands up to speak, the bishops listen.”

Archbishop Burke was outspoken during the last U.S. presidential election when he said he would deny Catholic Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry Communion because his position on abortion was contrary to church teaching.

“It is a pleasure to introduce Archbishop Raymond Burke. I marvel at him. He is a very courageous and a very kindly archbishop,” Bishop Moynihan said when the archbishop took over the podium.

Archbishop Burke said he was pleased to be invited to participate in the conference promoting a “civilization of love.” He spoke on a point that ran throughout his presentation — his displeasure at the lack of Catholic devotions and traditions in the modern family.

“In 1975 when I was newly ordained, I was struck by the impression that there was  a loss of devotion in family homes. I would visit different places and was  struck by the absence of objects of devotion,” the archbishop said.

There were no family rosaries recited, no morning offering, no pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the homes he visited. Archbishop Burke said the 1960s and 1970s contained a strong element of false understanding of Vatican II.

“It detracted from sacred liturgy, devotion to Mary and other traditional devotions. Many of them were discontinued in parishes at that time,” he noted.

Because these devotions had impacted his spiritual life as he was growing up, Archbishop Burke said he had no reason to believe that the same would not be true for other people — and a loss of such devotions would result in a loss of spirituality.

Traditions such as the rosary are not in conflict with the liturgy, he said, in fact they sustain the liturgy. The archbishop cited numerous papal documents to support his position regarding the loss of devotions. He described the pontiffs’ encouragement to the faithful as far as sustaining their faith through Catholic practices and traditions. For instance, he said, Pope John Paul II urged devotion to the Eucharist especially by making one of his final declarations the “Year of the Eucharist.” The popes throughout the ages have considered the deepest needs of all of mankind, as especially called for by Pope John Paul II’s new evangelization.

Archbishop Burke spoke of the constant difficulties Christians face in regard to secularism, consumerism and atheism. He said, “Obedience is a virtue acquired with difficulty but it is indispensable if the Gospel is to be taught and lived.”

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