LEAWOOD, Kansas, February 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – While the world thinks of suffering as an unnecessary burden, Cardinal Raymond Burke reminded the faithful that it is actually the deepest expression of love and life.
In his homily this past Saturday at the annual White Mass for the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) of Kansas City, Cardinal Burke said suffering unites us to Christ. And those affected by it, whether through their own experience or in serving the infirmed, should testify to this truth.
“Those who are sick and those who care for them are called to give witness to the truth that our suffering is a share in the life, death and resurrection of Christ,” he said, “and that in serving the sick, we serve Christ.”
“In a world which views illness and death as denial of the meaning of life and as annihilation,” Cardinal Burke continued, “our faith teaches us that our suffering and death, united with the suffering and death of Christ, express our deepest love and ultimately issue in life — the eternal life — Heaven.”
The Cardinal Patron for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta celebrated the Eighth Annual Mass for the Healing Professions for the Kansas City-area CMA the day after his Defense of the Faith lecture sponsored by the Knights of Malta before a packed house at a local Catholic high school.
A warm welcome
The cardinal was warmly received while making several stops during his visit to the area. There were no outward signs that he is at the center of an intense disturbance within the hierarchy of the Church.
“The outpouring of support was really amazing,” said Dr. Paul Camarata of the Kansas City CMA.
The White Mass centers around doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and is named for the white coats of the physicians.
This year’s Kansas City CMA Mass with Cardinal Burke was held at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick. Dr. Austin Welsh told LifeSiteNews the Mass had its largest attendance to date.
The World Day of the Sick was instituted in 1992 by Pope St. John Paul II to commemorate the Our Lady of Lourdes feast day as “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one's suffering.”
Typically, local or regional prelates are invited as principal celebrants of the White Mass, said Welsh, past president of the Kansas City CMA. This time around was an extra special occasion with Cardinal Burke’s presence. The cardinal was joined by local ordinaries, Kansas City, Kansas, Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston as concelebrants.
“It was just wonderful for His Eminence to be with us,” said Welsh, “and for the bishops to be there. We had the biggest turnout ever.”
In addition to the visit from the cardinal, relics were on display during the Mass and immediately after from St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a physician who gave her life to save the life of her unborn child.
“That added a very special element to our White Mass,” Welsh said.
The popular Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles led the music for the Mass. The contemplative sisters have made several sacred music recordings, garnering honors, topping various charts and breaking sales records.
The Catholic Medical Association
The Kansas City CMA has hosted the White Mass for the last eight years since the inception of the local guild, which is part of the national association established in 1912 that upholds Catholic principles in the science and practice of medicine.
The local Kansas City guild also hosts an annual physician bioethics dinner and a monthly First Saturday spiritual guidance gathering with a local chapter from the Apostles of the Interior Life religious community.
Plans for the White Mass were in progress for roughly a year and coincided with Cardinal Burke keynoting the Defense of the Faith talk for the Knights of Malta on Friday night.
Camarata approached Archbishop Naumann after the Knights’ annual Anointing Mass last March to inquire into contacting the Cardinal Burke, and the archbishop agreed to help with inquiring into possibly securing the cardinal, who maintains a very rigorous schedule.
“He’s just in incredible demand,” Camarata told LifeSiteNews.
In addition to the CMA, both Welsh and Camarata are members of the Knights of Malta.
Along with annual commemoration and enrichment for the healing professions, the CMA typically looks to the White Mass as a recruiting opportunity, Welsh said, making this year’s Mass with Cardinal Burke all the more of a blessing for the exposure it gave to the guild.
“It was the best White Mass we’ve had,” Welsh said.
Camarata concurred, sharing that the guild has received messages from Mass attendees asking to join. “I think it will be a boon for membership locally here,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Other opportunities to be with people
Welsh was also grateful that numerous concurrences happened in relation to the visit enabling Cardinal Burke to make several other events that organizers didn’t think would fit into his schedule.
“The coincidences are just tremendous,” he said.
After the White Mass on Saturday, instead of taking time to rest before traveling back to Rome, Welsh and Camarata took Cardinal Burke to visit an old friend in the hospital.
“After speaking about how we as healthcare professionals should care for the sick,” Camarata said. “He really put his homily into action.”
Earlier in his visit, the cardinal was also able to bless a recent gift of medical equipment from the Knights of Malta to a local medical clinic.
He traveled as well to nearby Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he visited a theology department senior seminar whose studies on “Amoris Laetitia In the Light of the Catholic Tradition” have included the book written by five cardinals in response to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.
Cardinal Burke was a contributor to the book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, which defends Catholic teaching on marriage.
“They were thrilled when they heard the cardinal was coming,” said Camarata. “And I think it was a boost for him coming to see them.”
He also met with about 100 students from the College’s Gregorian Fellows Program, along with 15 monks, passing around holy cards he brought for them.
And the cardinal made it to Gower, Missouri, to celebrate Mass with the Benedictine sisters on the Feast of St. Benedict’s sister St. Scholastica.
Cardinal Burke was able to celebrate a well-attended Pontifical Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form as well on Thursday morning at a Kansas City, Kansas, parish, where he remained afterward to greet Mass-goers who lined up to see him.
That Mass was on the memorial of Saint Cyril of Alexandria as observed in the 1962 liturgical calendar, with a representative of the Patriarchate of Alexandria present. Welsh noted that Saint Cyril was known for fighting heretics.
Cardinal Burke’s presence at the jam-packed Kansas City events came even as media offensives directed at him stepped up in recent weeks in the wake of conflict within the Order of Malta and Pope Francis’ intervention into the dispute.
The latest controversy followed on the heels of four cardinals – including Cardinal Burke – having requested clarification from the pope on some passages of Amoris Laetitia that have allowed apparent license for giving Holy Communion to individuals living in objectively sinful situations and the persistent speculation as a result over the potential next steps in the matter.
But Welsh was struck by the welcome the cardinal received while in Kansas and Missouri, noting the long lines of people waiting to see him after the White Mass. “His Eminence was very encouraged by the reception he received here,” Welsh said.
Overcoming suffering and death
In addition to preaching at the White Mass on God’s plan for suffering in our lives, Cardinal Burke brought to mind the Blessed Mother’s words to the servers at the Wedding at Cana, “Do what he tells you,” before Christ turns the water into wine.
“Doing what Christ tells us in a world forgetful of God and His plan for us also means giving healthcare according to the mind and heart of Christ, faithful to the Church’s moral teaching,” stated Cardinal Burke.
“Doing what Christ tells us,” said the cardinal who has steadfastly remained faithful to the Church, “will allow us to witness the transformation of suffering and death.”
Doing what Christ tells us, he also said, will allow us to witness the transformation of suffering and death.