Robert Cardinal Sarah’s new book The Day Is Now Far Spent: In conversation with Nicolas Diat is now available in English from Ignatius Press and the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was recently interviewed by Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register about the book. Here are some brief excerpts from that interview.
On the purpose and scope of the book: “I don’t develop personal theses or academic research. This book is the cry from my heart as a priest and a pastor.”
On the crisis of faith: “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. … 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.”
On the priesthood and secularism: “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.”
On authentic freedom and civilization: “We convinced our contemporaries that in order to be free, we must not depend on anyone. This is a tragic mistake. Westerners are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of the person. However, civilized man is fundamentally an heir; he receives a history, a religion, a language, a culture, a name, a family.”
On hope: “Our first reason for hope is therefore God himself. He will never abandon us! We firmly believe in his promise. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Holy Catholic Church. She will always be the Ark of Salvation. There will always be enough light for the one who seeks the truth with a pure heart.”
On the unchanging nature of truth and Church teaching: “We are facing a real cacophony from bishops and priests. Everyone wants to impose their personal opinion as a truth. But there is only one truth: Christ and his teaching. How could the doctrine of the Church change? The Gospel does not change. It is still the same. Our unity cannot be built around fashionable opinions.”
On the hermeneutic of continuity “We must hold firmly to what Benedict XVI called the hermeneutic of continuity. The unity of faith implies the unity of the magisterium in space and time. When a new teaching is given to us, it must always be interpreted in coherence with the preceding teaching.”
On liturgy and sacredness: ” If the altar is no longer the sacred threshold beyond which God resides, how would we find the joy of approaching it? A world that ignores the sacred is a uniform, flat and sad world. By ransacking our liturgy we have disenchanted the world and reduced souls to a dull sadness.”
On modern errors regarding the liturgy: “The contemporary technical mentality would like to reduce the liturgy to an effective work of pedagogy. To this end, we seek to make the ceremonies convivial, attractive and friendly. But the liturgy has no pedagogical value except to the extent that it is entirely ordained to the glorification of God and to the divine worship and sanctification of men. … Nothing profane has its place in liturgical actions. It would be a serious mistake to believe that worldly, spectacular elements would encourage the participation of the faithful. These elements can only promote human participation and not participation in Christ’s religious and salvific action.”
On traditional liturgy and young people: “When the extraordinary form is celebrated in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, it reveals its full fruitfulness: How can we be surprised that a liturgy that has carried so many saints continues to smile at young souls thirsty for God?”
On gender ideology: “Gender ideology is a Luciferic refusal to receive a sexual nature from God. The West refuses to receive; it only accepts what it builds itself. Transhumanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement. Even human nature, because it is a gift from God, becomes unbearable to the Western man.”
On the upcoming Pan-Amazon Synod: “I have heard that some people wanted to make this synod a laboratory for the universal Church, that others said that, after this synod, nothing would be the same as before. If that is true, this approach is dishonest and misleading. This synod has a specific and local goal: the evangelization of the Amazon. … I am shocked and outraged that the spiritual distress of the poor in the Amazon is being used as a pretext to support projects that are typical of bourgeois and worldly Christianity.”
On the power of prayer: “A man on his knees is more powerful than the world. It is an impregnable bulwark against atheism and the madness of men. A man on his knees makes Satan’s pride tremble. All of you who, in the eyes of men, are without power and influence, but who know how to remain on your knees before God, do not be afraid of those who want to intimidate you.”
And if you’ve not read it, also see Cardinal Sarah’s May 25, 2019, address in Paris, which touches on many of the themes found in The Day Is Not Far Spent.
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