Friday, October 11, 2019

Cardinal Sarah’s Cri de Coeur

An interview with the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments about his new book, from the National Catholic Register:
Don’t misunderstand this book. I don’t develop personal theses or academic research. This book is the cry from my heart as a priest and a pastor. I suffer so much from seeing the Church torn apart and in great confusion. I suffer so much from seeing the Gospel and Catholic doctrine disregarded, the Eucharist ignored or profaned. I suffer so much from seeing the priests abandoned, discouraged, and [witnessing those] whose faith has become tepid. 
The decline of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus the Eucharist is at the heart of the current crisis of the Church and its decline, especially in the West. We bishops, priests and lay faithful are all responsible for the crisis of faith, the crisis of the Church, the priestly crisis and the de-Christianization of the West. Georges Bernanos wrote before the war: “We constantly repeat, with tears of helplessness, laziness or pride, that the world is becoming de-Christianized. But the world has not received Christ — non pro mundo rogo — it is we who received him for him; it is from our hearts that God withdraws; it is we who de-Christianize ourselves, miserable!” (Nous Autres, Français, “We French” — in Scandale de la Vérité, “Scandal of the Truth,” Points /Seuil, 1984). 
I wanted to open my heart and share a certainty: The profound crisis that the Church is experiencing in the world and especially in the West is the fruit of the forgetting of God. If our first concern is not God, then everything else collapses. At the root of all crises, anthropological, political, social, cultural, geopolitical, there is the forgetting of the primacy of God. As Pope Benedict XVI said during his meeting with the world of culture at the Collège des Bernardins on Sept. 12, 2008, “The ‘quaerere Deum’ — ‘searching for God,’ the fact of being attentive to the essential reality of God is the central axis on which all civilization and culture is built. What founded the culture of Europe — the search for God and the willingness to let oneself be found by him, to listen to him — still remains today the foundation of every true culture and the indispensable condition for the survival of our humanity. For the refusal of 
God or a total indifference towards him is fatal for man.” I have tried to show in this book that the common root of all current crises is found in this fluid atheism, which, without denying God, lives in practice as if he did not exist. In the conclusion of my book, I speak of this poison of which we are all victims: liquid atheism. It infiltrates everything, even our speeches as clergymen. It consists in admitting, alongside faith, radically pagan and worldly ways of thinking or living. And we satisfy ourselves with this unnatural cohabitation! This shows that our faith has become liquid and inconsistent! The first reform to be made is in our hearts. It consists in no longer making a pact with lies. Faith is both the treasure we want to defend and the strength that allows us to defend it. 
This movement which consists of “putting God aside,” making God a secondary reality, has touched the hearts of priests and bishops. God does not occupy the center of their lives, thoughts and actions. The life of prayer is no longer central. I am convinced that priests must proclaim the centrality of God through their own lives. A Church where the priest no longer carries this message is a Church that is sick. The life of a priest must proclaim to the world that “God alone is enough,” that prayer, that is, this intimate and personal relationship, is the heart of his life. This is the profound reason for priestly celibacy. 
The forgetting of God finds its first and most serious manifestation in the secularized way of life of priests. They are the first to have to carry the Good News. If their personal lives do not reflect this, then practical atheism will spread throughout the Church and society.

I believe that we are at a turning point in the history of the Church. Yes, the Church needs a profound and radical reform that must begin with a reform of the way of being and the way of life of priests. The Church is holy in herself. But we prevent this holiness from shining through our sins and worldly concerns. It is time to drop all these burdens and finally let the Church appear as God has shaped her. It is sometimes believed that the history of the Church is marked by structural reforms. I am sure that it is the saints who change history. The structures then follow and only perpetuate the actions of the saints. (Read more.)

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