Also at the National Catholic Register (that’s the Catholic paper, not to be confused with the National Schismatic Reporter aka Fishwrap) you will find an English translation of the interview with Robert Card. Sarah with Il Foglio.
I urge you to read it on your own, but there are some items which merit a spotlight.
He explains his departure as Prefect from the Congregation for Divine Worship (it wasn’t a surprise at all, he was 75 and his term was over). He talks about what he learned from being involved in liturgy.
Sarah… my emphases… comments…
Rather than talking about ourselves, let us turn to God! This is the message I have been repeating for years. If God is not at the center of the Church’s life, then she is in danger of death. That is certainly why Benedict XVI said that the crisis of the Church is essentially a crisis of the liturgy because it is a crisis of the relationship with God. [It comes down to the virtue of Religion. If that isn’t in order (and it most decidedly is NOT in the Church today) every sphere of the Church’s work will be less or ineffective.]
That is also why, following Benedict XVI, I insisted: the purpose of the liturgy is not to celebrate the community or man, but God. This is very well expressed in the oriented celebration [ad orientem]. “Where direct orientation towards the East is not possible,” says Benedict XVI, “the cross can therefore serve as an interior orientation of faith. It must then take its place at the center of the altar and concentrate the gaze of the priest and the praying community. In this we conform to the ancient invitation to prayer that opens the Eucharist: Conversi ad Dominum: “Turn to the Lord. Then we look together to the One whose death gives us life, to the One who stands for us before the Father, takes us in his arms, and makes us living and new temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19).’” When everyone turns together towards the Cross, we avoid the risk of a face-to-face encounter that is too human and closed in on itself. We open our hearts to the outpouring of God. “The idea that, in prayer, the priest and the people should face one another in prayer was born only in modern Christianity, it is completely foreign to ancient Christianity. It is certain that the priest and the people pray not towards each other, but towards the one Lord,” Christ who, in silence, comes to meet us. (Joseph Ratzinger, Preface to Volume XI: The Theology of the Liturgy — of the Complete Works, Paris, Parole et Silence, 2020). This is also why I have never ceased to return to the place of silence in the liturgy. When man remains silent, he leaves a place for God. On the contrary, when the liturgy becomes chatty, it forgets that the cross is its center, it organizes itself around the microphone. All these questions are crucial because they determine the place we give to God. Unfortunately they have been transformed into ideological questions. [Indeed they have.]
The Cardinal goes on to explain the pain that comes from factional struggles.
This was an important book and I am glad to be reminded of it.
Back to the interview.
Something I took special note of was Card. Sarah’s comments on the future of the Church. He tied his view to his work as a member of the Congregation for Causes of Saints. Despite all the horrible things going on in the Church (” The Church today is experiencing a Good Friday. The boat seems to be taking on water from all sides.”), there are many truly striving for holiness.
Card. Sarah is a priest’s priest. His books have amazing insights into the spiritual life.
If you have not read Card. Sarah’s books, give them a try. They make good gifts to priests.
And if you haven’t read it yet…
The Day Is Now Far Spent