June 13, 2015
“We are running the real risk of leaving no place for God in our celebrations. We are heading for the temptation of the Hebrews in the desert. They tried to create for themselves worship according to their own measure and their own depth, and let us not forget that they ended up prostrate before the golden calf. “ So writes Cardinal Robert Sarah, named last November by Pope Francis as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. This article appeared in the June 12 issue of L’Osservatore Romano and was buried on page 6 and was quoted only in small part on the Vatican website. And yet the article exhibited a profundity and incisiveness that has not been in evidence in recent memory, and the author of the article is the man who is in the role of the primary guide of the Catholic liturgy. To say the least, the article was at the level of a Joseph Ratzinger type of great liturgist.
The whole article, which is a must read, can be accessed at the following web page:
It is enough to note here the straightforwardness, complete with descriptions, with which Cardinal Sarah throws to the flames the deformations in the Catholic liturgy of these last decades, and the reversal of the meaning that the very formulations of the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council have taken on, beginning with that much extoled but distorted phrase participatio actuosa and onto that no less misunderstood phrase, “the celebrating community”. For each deviation Sarah has the precise correction. But he does not omit real and relevant proposals. It will be interesting to see whether these proposals will be included in official decrees.
For example, Sarah writes as follows:
Contrary to what has been sometimes claimed, and in total conformity with the conciliar Constitution, it is especially fitting that, during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations and the Eucharistic Prayer, all, the priest and the faithful, face together towards the East, to express their willingness to participate in the activity of worship and the redemption wrought by Christ. This could be fittingly put into action in the cathedrals, which should be the exemplars of the liturgical life.
Reading further, Cardinal Sarah discusses the two forms of the Roman rite, the ancient and the modern:
It would also be desirable that the penitential rite and the Offertory of the usus antiquior be appended to the next edition of the Roman Missal in the Ordinary Form. This would underline the fact that the two liturgical forms enlighten each other in continuity and without opposition.
By a curious coincidence this article by Cardinal Sarah saw the light of day exactly the evening before an important conference in Rome on the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, that liberalized the “antiquior” Mass.