Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
I’m writing this letter on retreat, in order to get it done on time for the bulletin. For part of my retreat I am reading a recent book by Robert Cardinal Sarah, head of the Congregation for Sacraments in Rome. The book is entitled The Day Is Now Far Spent. In the book the Cardinal is answering many questions about the condition of the Church. One of the questions leads the Cardinal to speak about renewal, and his answer focuses on the need for an experience of God, and the fact that that experience profoundly happens within the Liturgy. Here are some very helpful lines from Cardinal Sarah. A couple lines Cardinal Sarah has taken directly from Pope Benedict XVI.
– Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Only if there is a certain experience [of God] can one also understand [Church teaching]. We must therefore ask ourselves the question: How can we have the experience of God? We must therefore re-experience the Church as the place where God gives himself.”
– “There is a place where we can have this experience of God and of the Church: the liturgy. There it is not possible to hide from God.”
– Pope Benedict XVI said: “The true renewal of the liturgy is the fundamental prerequisite of the renewal of the Church. The Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy or, consequently, in life. The deepest cause of the crisis that has upset the Church is found in the obscuring of God’s priority in the liturgy.”
– “I humbly beg bishops, priests, and the people of God to care more for the sacred liturgy, to put God at the center of it, to ask Jesus Christ once again to teach us to pray.”
– “We have desacralized [i.e., taken out the sense of holiness of] the Eucharistic celebration. We have transformed our Eucharistic celebrations into a folklore exhibition, a social event, an amusement, and insipid [i.e., lacking deep wisdom] dialogue between the priest and the Christian assembly. Is there still a place for the Most High in our liturgies? Can we still experience God in them?”
Very soon after this short section [pp. 108-113] Cardinal Sarah encourages everybody to find a way to experience a monastery, if at all possible. Monasteries are those set-aside institutions where monks and nuns focus on God intensely; and our own sensibilities get raised to realize how right it is for Him to be the end-goal of all we do in life. Perhaps this Lent we can make a little “monastery” of time for contemplation of the Lord in our life.
What great encouragement Cardinal Sarah gives us for all the work we have put into the liturgy, the Holy Mass! What great encouragement to expect to encounter God in Mass. Perhaps a parent of little children is thinking, “Find God in Mass?! I am always busy trying to find my little ones’ pacifier, or gloves, or hat!” Well, with faith you can be assured that you are encountering God in the Mass, giving Him acceptable worship (even as you corral the little ones!); and He is giving you grace. Holy Mass is the privileged place to encounter God!
Have a blessed Lent!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,