Monday, September 15, 2014

Cardinal Burke and the angels

I had the privilege of meeting Cardinal Burke recently at the Fota conference in Cork. We got on like a house on fire (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). The coincidence of sharing surnames helped, aided by the fact that I'm from Cork and he has Cork roots and a bit of chat revealed that it wasn't impossible that we might be cousins (very distant cousins ... squinting cousins, 'cause you have to squeeze your eyes very tightly together and engage in quite a bit of wishful thinking to believe that it might be true!).

During one of the breaks at the conference I was chatting with a couple of seminarians about this and that. The topic of the rosary came up and one admitted that he tended to leave it until the end of the day and it wasn't unknown for him to fall asleep before he was done. Now of course this is fair enough when you consider the workload of study, worship, and private prayer in the seminary. But it didn't stop me from teasing him about it - gently - nonetheless!

'Fr Burke!' came a voice from nearby. I turned. The Cardinal was sitting with his coffee not far off. He gestured to me to come closer. I trotted over at once - there's still enough of the soldier in me that when I am summoned by higher authority it is a reflex to obey instantly.

'Yes, Your Eminence?' I said.
'Fr Burke,' he said smiling. 'Do you know what happens when you fall asleep saying your rosary?'
I was tempted to say that perhaps one finished it when one woke up, but I figured he had a better answer than that so I simply said:
'No, Your Eminence.'
'Your Guardian Angel finishes it for you.'

We went on to speak of other things as we finished our coffees, but I won't spoil that beautiful remark by sharing them here. His warm and gentle smile as he said it, and the beautiful thought that one's guardian angel finishes the prayers of the weary soul for them is the place to leave it. 

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