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sexta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2017

“Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy”: Address by His Eminence Card. Sarah




We are extremely grateful to His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, for sharing with New Liturgical Movement the text of the address which he delivered today to the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum, held at the Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum). The talk is entitled “Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy”; His Eminence wishes it to be understood that this is a provisional text, which will be revised for publication later.

I would urge our readers to take note of several points of this excellent talk. Card. Sarah speaks eloquently against the idea of an anthropocentric liturgy, and the necessity of giving back to God His rightful place at the center of our worship, and against liturgy as “theatre” and “worldly entertainment”, and the noise that “kills” the liturgy, as he also wrote in his fine book, “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise.” In the final section, under the heading “Some Reflections on the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum” he states unequivocally that “(t)heusus antiquior should be seen as a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century.” He also speaks with praise of those communities which celebrate the traditional Mass, and reassures us No one will rob you of the usus antiquior of the Roman rite.” (This is a particularly important in light of some highly tendentious and pastorally uncharitable declarations about liturgical reform made in recent days.) We are indebted to His Eminence for these words of encouragement, and his exhortation to share with the whole Church “the profound formation in the faith that the ancient rites and the associated spiritual and doctrinal ambience has given you.”
Cardinal Sarah introduced by Fr Vincenzo Nuara, O.P., at today’s conference in Rome.
The first sentiment that I would like to express, ten years after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, is that of gratitude to Almighty God. In fact, with this text Benedict XVI wanted to establish a sign of reconciliation in the Church, one that has brought much fruit and which has been continued in the same manner by Pope Francis. God wants the unity of His Church, for which we pray for in every Eucharistic celebration: we are called to continue to pursue this path of reconciliation and unity, as an ever-living witness of Christ in today's world.

This initiative of Pope Benedict XVI finds it full explication in an important work of Cardinal Ratzinger. Writing less than a year before his election to the Chair of St Peter, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took issue with “the suggestion by some Catholic liturgists that we should finally adapt the liturgical reform to the ‘anthropological turn’ of modern times and construct it in an anthropocentric style.” He argued:
If the Liturgy appears first of all as the workshop for our activity, then what is essential is being forgotten: God. For the Liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the Liturgy should be setting up a sign of God’s presence. Yet what happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves? In any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.”
“Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.” My brothers and sisters these words, utterly true when they were written in July 2004, have become more and more poignant with each passing year. Our world is marked by the blight of Godless terrorism, of an increasingly aggressive secularism, of a spirit of individualistic consumerism in respect of creation, material goods and even human relationships, and of an advancing culture of death which endangers the right to life of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the unborn, the unhealthy and the elderly.

In the face of this increasing godlessness we, Christ’s holy Church, are called by virtue of our baptism and of our own particular vocation to announce and proclaim that “Christ is the Light of nations” (Lumen Gentium, 1), and “to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1). For the way of Christ and His Church is the path of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the ultimate consummation of which is unending life in communion with God and all the saints in heaven. Whereas those who choose to walk according to the route laid down by the Prince of Lies risk hell: that ultimate fruit of the free, knowing and willing choice of sin and evil—eternal separation from God and the saints.

My brothers and sisters, we must never forget these eternal verities! Our world has most probably forgotten them. Indeed, particularly in the affluent West, our society seeks to hide these truths from us and to anaesthetise us with the apparent goods it offers to us in its unending cacophony of consumerism, lest we find the time and space to call into question its godless assumptions and practices. We must not succumb to this. We must be untiring in announcing the good news of the Gospel: that sin and death have been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the Cross has enabled us to gain the forgiveness that our sins demand and to live joyfully in this world and in the sure hope of life without end in the next.

The Church is called to announce this good news in every possible way, to every human person in every land and in every age. These essential missionary and apostolic endeavours, which are nothing less than an imperative given to the Church by the Lord himself (cf. Mt 28:19-20), are themselves predicated on a greater reality: our ecclesial encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacred Liturgy. For as the Second Vatican Council so rightly taught: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).

We might ask: if the Church’s missionary vitality has diminished in our time, if the witness of Christians in an increasingly godless world has become weaker, if our world has forgotten about God, is this perhaps because we who are supposed to be “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) are not approaching the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed as we should, or not drawing sufficiently deeply from the font from which all her power flows so as to bring all to enjoy that “spring of water welling up to eternal life”? (Jn 4:14)

For Pope John Paul II, these were not questions but tragic results of the crisis of faith and of our betrayal of the Second Vatican Council. He said, in fact:
In this “new springtime” of Christianity there is an undeniable negative tendency, and the present document is meant to help overcome it. Missionary activity specifically directed “to the nations” (ad gentes) appears to be waning, and this tendency is certainly not in line with the directives of the Council and of subsequent statements of the Magisterium. Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. For in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith.
If this is indeed so, if the Church of our day is less zealous and efficacious in bringing people to Christ, one cause may be our own failure to participate in the Sacred Liturgy truly and efficaciously, which is perhaps itself due to a lack of proper liturgical formation—something that is a concern of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said:
A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured. “our daily life in our body, in the small things, must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life...may be a liturgy, may be adoration.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio divina, Seminary of the Diocese of Rome, 15 February 2012)
It is necessary to unite a renewed willingness to go forward along the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the part of the baptized and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons.

It may also be because too often the liturgy as it is celebrated is not celebrated faithfully and fully as the Church intends, effectively ‘short-changing’ or robbing us of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ that is the right of every baptised person.

Many liturgies are really nothing but a theatre, a worldly entertainment, with so many speeches and strange cries during the mystery that is celebrated, so much noise, so many dances and bodily movements that resemble our popular folk events. Instead the liturgy should be a time of personal encounter and intimacy with God. Africa, above all, and probably also Asia and Latin America, should reflect, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with prudence and with the will to bring the Christian faithful to holiness, about their human ambition to inculturate the liturgy, in order to avoid superficiality, folklore and the auto-celebration of their culture. Each liturgical celebration must have God as its centre, and God alone, and our sanctification.

Today, the 10th anniversary of the coming into force of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, also raises the question of the implementation of the liturgical reform called for by the Second Vatican Council and of what one might call the liturgical and pastoral ‘fallout’ of those years. They are not peripheral questions of importance only for liturgical specialists or of interest solely for so-called “traditionalists,” for, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1997, “the true celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the centre of any renewal of the Church whatever.”
THE PRIMACY OF GOD IN THE SACRED LITURGY

In the citation from Cardinal Ratzinger with which I opened this address, the Cardinal asks: “What happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves?” This may seem to be a strange question, but it arises out of a real tendency in recent decades to plan and hold liturgical celebrations where the focus is mostly on the celebrating community, almost at times to the apparent exclusion of God. I say “apparent” because I do not wish to judge the intentions of those who promote or celebrate such anthropocentric liturgies: they themselves may be the victims of a poor or even deficient theological and liturgical formation.