Friday, December 7, 2012

Thoughts on My Retreat with Cardinal Burke

Canon Law mandates that a priest take 5 days of retreat every year.  I just returned today from my retreat in Bloomington, IN, where Cardinal Burke was the retreat master for a retreat where that drew 30 or so priests.  It was AWESOME!

Some thoughts from the experience:

1) Mass celebrated "ad orientem" is more prayerful.  I'm not watching the priest's face when we're all facing the same direction, I'm thinking about what the priest is doing

2) Cardinal Burke is the head of the "Supreme Court" of the Church on matters of Canon Law.  He noted something that I've come to realize in my life as well - the law guides us towards happiness and is not a burden.

3) Cardinal Burke mentioned "social justice" Catholics who think we need to jettison the laws of the Church, with the imagined end result being a world where people just do social justice projects.  He noted that this is completely backwards, because the laws of the Church are the precursor and guide for justice.  Without the laws of the Church, we don't get a more just world, we get a less just and more confused world.

4) A priest that doesn't pray is a priest that is on his way out of the priesthood.  Archbishop Buechlein used to say that all the time as well!

5) Spending silent time with our Lord in prayer is highly transformative.  Can I get an "Amen!"?

6) A priest that thinks of himself as an MC at Mass, needing to make the Mass more tolerable and entertaining, is not doing a service for Christ, he is getting in the way of Christ.  Such a priest is "increasing while Christ is decreasing"

7) It is a mystery to Cardinal Burke why Canon 915 is not imposed against Catholic politicians who vote in favor of abortion/embryonic stem cell research/euthanasia

8) The Church will likely get smaller before She becomes more faithful again


  1. Thanks for sharing. Very insightful!! 1 and 6 explain why I love the Latin Mass! Again thanks for sharing!

  2. 8) The Church will likely get smaller before She becomes more faithful again

    People get the vapors over this last one. They think us Taliban Catholics are out to boot people out the door. That's not true and that is not what Cdl. Ratzinger meant when he talked of a "smaller but purer" church. Rather, what it means is that the difference between the Church and society at large is going to become more stark and contentious and many nominal Catholics are going to end up choosing the latter. In other words, it is the parable of the sower: "And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."

  3. Oh my gosh! How blessed can you be to have gone on a whole retreat with that saint of a man! Thanks for letting us in on what he had to say. All good and true!

    I'd love to go back to ad orientam. I want to pray to God, not look at the priest's face, yet we all stare at the priest all the time.

    Hope you got to talk to Cardinal Burke about your work on homosexuality. He's very good on that topic. He celebrated a Mass and gave a talk at the 2011 Courage convention.

    God help us to once again become a Church that shines like a light in the darkness.

  4. God bless Cardinal Burke and Fr. Hollowell. May God protect them as they love our Lord Jesus Christ and His people through their works of teaching and sanctifying. Praise God for beautiful priests.

  5. Your point about the law being the basis of happiness and charity is something that I'm also discovering in my own life too. I think that if we ignore Jesus' calls to devotion and chastity, we will also end up ignoring his call to radical self-sacrifice and service in love, which in fact is even harder in many ways.

    About point number 4, are priests not given spiritual training in the seminary? My very uninformed perspective and limited experience incline me to think that this is considered "optional," as I have seen very uneven levels of spirituality among priests I have had the chance to meet.