Cardinal Burke promotes 9-month novena to pray for the Church amid ‘forces of sin’

CNA 5d1b774370fa2 158256 1 Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke during the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, June 29, 2019. | Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Cardinal Raymond Burke this week invited Catholics to join in praying a nine-month novena seeking Mary’s intercession beginning on March 12 and culminating on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. 

The American cardinal, who founded the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Wisconsin, announced the prayer initiative in a video address posted over the weekend. 

“Our Lord has not called us to fear. No matter the darkness of our age, men and women of faith are not without the truth and love of Christ, nor the faithful care of his mother,” Burke wrote in an accompanying letter posed to the Guadalupe shrine website. 

“The darkness of sin seems so great. But Our Lord has not called us to fear! Evil cannot approach the power of God’s grace. Sin cannot prevent Our Lord’s healing mercy from reaching those who repent and seek it. And nothing can diminish the care and protection of Our Lady for us, which remain as strong today as they were 500 years ago.”

A novena, a traditional Catholic practice usually consisting of a nine-day series of petitionary prayers, can also be much longer. Those who sign up to join Burke’s novena will receive, via email, short video reflections from the cardinal each month in addition to regular written reflections and prayers. 

Recalling St. Juan Diego, to whom Christ’s mother appeared under the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe in present-day Mexico in 1531, Burke invited “all Catholics, especially those in the Americas” to ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for “maternal care and protection.”

“The world wrestled with famine and disease, and war in the Holy Land threatened to reduce that beautiful and tortured region to chaos. Then, too, poisonous confusion from within the Church corroded the faith of Christians the world over,” Burke wrote. 

“And then, too, we saw the forces of sin retreat before the presence of Our Lady. Through St. Juan Diego’s humble and courageous cooperation with grace, Our Lady claimed the New World for Christ, drawing nearly 9 million new souls into the Church by the time of St. Juan Diego’s death in 1548. It is this same maternal care and protection that we seek today — a care and protection that she will grant us, should we earnestly ask for it.”

A native of Wisconsin, Burke previously shepherded the Diocese of La Crosse and the Archdiocese of St. Louis before being appointed in 2008 as head of the Church’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, until 2014. 

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