Cardinal Sarah’s new book: The Church can only combat the worldliness of our age by embracing silence
ROME, October 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Power of Silence is Cardinal Robert Sarah’s new book, published in French and presented in the French Center in Rome this evening in front of a crammed auditorium.
Numerous high-ranking Church officials were present, among them His Eminence Card. Raymond L. Burke, Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life; as well as Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and predecessor of Cardinal Sarah in that office; among other bishops and prelates of the Curia.
The book is available today in bookstores in French, while translations into other languages are being prepared. It is published by Nicolas Diat and closes with a dialogue with the prior of the Great Chartreuse, Dom Dysmas de Lassus.
Fr. Serge Bonino, Dean of Philosophy at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome, opened the evening with introductory remarks. Recalling the first best-selling book written by Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing, he explained that God is not something “added” to the Church’s life, but in fact her very center and that the act of proclaiming God will become a “scandal” to the world, as Scripture says.
Linking God or Nothing with Card. Sarah’s newest volume, The Power of Silence, Bonino added that “the primacy of God in the world corresponds to the absolute primacy of silence in the soul of man.” To be silent is to be open to God and to cancel silence is “to cancel God from society.”
Next, Nicolas Diat, Cardinal Sarah’s close advisor, read aloud a letter written for this occasion by Prior Dom Dysmas de Lassus of the Grande Chartreuse, head monastery of the Carthusian order.
Cardinal Sarah’s choice of title, The Power of Silence, remembers and relates to his experiences of time in prayer in the Grande Chartreuse. He explained that he authored the book with the aim to bring attention to silence, a vital element of the spiritual life. “Silence for me conveyed content -- that was God,” explained Sarah.
In the face of a noisy and chatty world, he recalled that “the first language of God is silence; everything else is a poor translation. Through silence man can repose in God; that way man will find the true priority of things.”
The Cardinal also touched on hot topics in today’s Church. He brought attention to the fact that there is too much “doing” and not enough “praying.”
“That which the Church really needs today is not structural reform. The program already exists. And it has existed always in tradition – that which is lacking is re-centering on Christ.”
He added that: “We are victims of selfishness, worldliness, and the spirit of the world,” and we are in danger of falling into “vain and narcissistic activism.”
Regarding the ever ongoing technological flood of information drowning man every day, he remarked: “Noise has become a kind of drug in our modern society.”
Cardinal Sarah also remembered that silence is not always positive. There is God’s seeming silence when man suffers as well as the helpless “silence of the unborn, the sick, and those cast out.”
Card. Sarah, who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship, (that is, the liturgy), then continued to speak of and explain the importance of silence in the liturgy.
“Silence is the center of our Western liturgy. It is the essence of every prayer, since it is the reaction of the creature to the eternal Creator. We as priests must take back up the childlike fear of our Father and take up prayerful silence.”
“A true distance is the very condition of a true communion.”
While imploring the clergy in particular to make silence the very basis of their liturgical practice, he condemned vain attempts to make everything in the liturgy “immediately understandable and reduce it to the human level.”
He admonished the practice of some priests who, using the excuse of pedagogy, fill the liturgy “with unending comments and chatter” and stage-like behavior. So called “pastoral” changes in the liturgy are not helpful. The cardinal asked if these priests are too afraid to believe that the Holy Spirit can work independent of them to open the hearts of men.
“Silence is the very fabric with which we have to weave our liturgy,” he demanded.
Regarding the mutual enrichment of both forms of the liturgy, Ordinary and Extraordinary, he questioned why the ordinary form could not rediscover the old offertory prayers.
“To ruin the liturgy means to ruin a connection with God. Today we are in danger of ruining doctrine which nourishes our faith and the liturgy which is our connection to God.”
Answering a question by Sandro Magister about the Sign of Peace in liturgy and orientation towards the East by the celebrant – something which the cardinal wanted to implement and was reprimanded for – Cardinal Sarah stated that much patience is needed in order to have a true change and a true conversion.
“With my new book, I want to invite all the Christian faithful to re-enter silence,” Cardinal Sarah commented. “God is silent and He is expecting silence from us to reveal Himself to us.”