Cdl. Sarah: Bad Faith Causes Bad Liturgy

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 3, 2017   

"We cannot close our eyes to the disaster ... caused by remodeling the Church's liturgy"

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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican's head liturgist, is saying the destruction of the liturgy resulted in a crisis of faith for Catholics.

In his address to a liturgical conference held in Germany on Friday, the prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, drew heavily on the insights of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he warned, "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tirelessly repeated that the crisis that has shaken the Church for fifty years, chiefly since Vatican Council II, is connected with the crisis of the liturgy."

He then directly quotes from the writings of then-Cdl. Ratzinger. "I am convinced," he writes, "that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy."

I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, presented a talk at the same conference, "The Source of the Future," in which he called for "an authentic renewal of the sacred liturgy."

He also said that right faith is dependent upon right liturgy. "I am firmly of the mind," said Abp. Sample, "that if we do not get the liturgy right, we will continue to experience many of the other problems in our common ecclesial life."

 

A major problem with modern liturgy identified by Cdl. Sarah was the appearance of innovations that pushed people to activity and pre-occupation during Mass instead of promoting authentic worship:

It is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the council is due to the fact that its center is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to "do" something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations.

Sarah noted that the crisis of faith caused by misguided liturgical practices can't be overlooked any longer: "[W]e cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church's liturgy according to their ideas."

He highlights the fact that these reformers forgot that a "liturgical act is not just a prayer, but also and above all a mystery in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand."

The cardinal explains that participation at Mass isn't external so much as it is internal: "It is not about exclusively external activity, the distribution of roles or of functions in the liturgy but rather about an intensely active receptivity."

Even priests and bishops have a problem of seeing the Mass as sacrifice, says Cdl. Sarah. "The serious crisis of faith, not only at the level of the Christian faithful but also and especially among many priests and bishops, has made us incapable of understanding the Eucharistic liturgy as a sacrifice." 

He notes that instead of seeing the Mass as a sacrifice, clerics and liturgical reformers often see the Mass as a "convivial meal" or the "community's celebration of itself."

Cardinal Sarah says many prelates refuse to see the crisis for what it is. "Many refuse to face up to the Church’s work of self-destruction through the deliberate demolition of her doctrinal, liturgical, moral and pastoral foundations," he comments. 

He adds that in this crisis the number of heretical prelates is continuing to grow: "[M]ore and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God."

According to him, bad liturgy is sometimes preferred as a diversion owing to a guilty conscience that stems "from the fear of meeting God face to face, because His glance unveils and obliges us to look truly and unflinchingly at the ugliness of our interior life."

 

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