Hearts of Jesus and Mary: Archbishop Raymond Burke

Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
Written during his time as Archbishop of St. Louis

Immaculate Conception
Two important liturgical celebrations in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary fittingly occur during the Season of Advent. They are the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, a holy day of obligation, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th
. The two celebrations are closely related to each other, for Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared for the first time to Saint Juan Diego on December 9, 1531, which, at that time in the Spanish Empire, was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In appearing to Saint Juan Diego, she identified herself as “the Perfect Ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the Most True God” (Nican Mopohua, n. 26).By the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God the Father prepared Mary to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son Whom He was sending into the world as our Savior. Mary, daughter of Joachim and Ann, was preserved, from her first moment of life, from all stain of Original Sin. Her womb was the all-pure vessel in which the conception of God the Son could take place through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. This is the meaning of the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe who identified herself as the “Perfect Ever Virgin Holy Mother.”

Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Quite frequently the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is confused with the Virginal Conception of our Lord Jesus Christ. The two events of our salvation are closely related to one another. God the Father ordered the Immaculate Conception of Mary to the Virginal Conception of Jesus in her all pure womb by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. But it is spiritually important to understand the distinct event of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, in order to appreciate fully the great mystery of the Incarnation in the Virginal Conception of Jesus in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mary.

In Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Christ’s work of the Redemption was anticipated, that is, Mary, from the first moment of her life, was freed from all sin and filled with the Holy Spirit. The gift of her Immaculate Conception is the fruit of the Passion and Death of God the Son Who was conceived in her womb. The Immaculate Conception is a wonderful manifestation of God’s immeasurable love of us, expressed in its fullness by His coming to dwell with us (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 490-493).

The Immaculate Conception is also a striking manifestation of our call to holiness of life. We are called to imitate the perfect cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which we see in the Virgin Mary. We are called to treasure the grace of Redemption, which we see in her Immaculate Conception, and so grow in the likeness of Christ. The Immaculate Conception inspires us to seek the purification of all sin in our lives and to give an ever fuller cooperation to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Patroness of Our Nation
The Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our nation. The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is a magnificent tribute of our affection for the Mother of God, who has interceded so faithfully for the intentions of our nation. The patronage of Mary Immaculate also inspires in us a renewed dedication to the common good of all the citizens of our nation. The mystery of the Immaculate Conception leads us to reflect, in a particular way, on how human life, from its beginning, is to be treasured and fostered. It also leads us to restore the respect for all human life in our state and nation. Conscious of the grave evils of procured abortion, the destruction of embryonic human life and human cloning, let us, with Mary Immaculate, pray to God our Father for the end of these evils which are the deadly fruit of our human pride.

Given the unimaginable situation of our State of Missouri, at present, with the passing of the amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right to human cloning and the destruction of embryonic human life, let us place ourselves once again under the protection of our Blessed Mother, trusting that she will lead us to Christ Who alone makes us free from sin and free to serve the good of all our brothers and sisters. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I ask you to continue the Rosary Crusade for the Safeguarding of Embryonic Human Life. We need the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary now more than ever.

Mother of America
The Mother of God has shown her particular affection for the entire continent of America by her appearances to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. The Blessed Virgin Mary came to our continent to show us her loving care in all of our needs and sufferings, and to bring us to her Divine Son, the Mercy of God Incarnate for us. After her apparitions and through her intercession, in a truly miraculous way, literally millions of Native Americans received the grace of faith and Baptism, and the horrible practice of the human sacrifice of hundreds of thousands was ended. What is more, the Native Americans and the Europeans who were on the brink of a deadly conflict, were brought together in unity to form a new people and culture, the mestiza culture which has its identity in the Virgin of Guadalupe, affectionately called La Morenita. Let us entrust our continent to the prayers of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so that the faith may be brought to all and the inviolable dignity of the life of each brother and sister may be fully respected.

The Rosary Crusade for the Safeguarding of Embryonic Human Life on our continent is under the patronage of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization. In the challenges which we face daily to safeguard and promote the common good, let us invoke the intercession of the Mother of God. In carrying out our daily responsibilities, let us imitate the faith, hope and love of Saint Juan Diego, her faithful messenger.

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.


On December 2, 2003, Bishop Burke was named Archbishop of St. Louis, succeeding Justin Cardinal Rigali. Archbishop Burke was installed in St. Louis on January 26, 2004, the fifth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's historic pastoral visit to the archdiocese. Pope John Paul II invested Archbishop Burke with the pallium on June 29, 2004, at the Basilica of St. Peter, in Rome. On June 27, 2008 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to Rome where he now serves as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and President of the Commission for Advocates.

Link to More Homilies of Archbishop Burke>>>

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