Thursday, October 05, 2017

Full text of Pope Benedict's important statement on liturgy- newly published by La Stampa

"Nothing precedes divine worship. With these words, St. Benedict, in his Rule (43.3), established the absolute priority of divine worship over any other task of monastic life. This, even in monastic life, was not immediately taken into account because the work in agriculture and science was also an essential task for monks. Both in agriculture and in craftsmanship and in training work, there could be some demands on time that might appear more important than the liturgy. Before all this Benedict, with the priority given to the liturgy, unequivocally emphasises the priority of God Himself in our lives: "

At the hour of the Divine Office, as soon as you hear the bell, leave everything you have between hands, he cautions with utmost care "(43,1). In the consciousness of contemporary people, the things of God and thus the liturgy do not appear urgent at all. There is an urgent need for everything possible. Things of God do not seem to be urgent. Now, one might say that monastic life is in any case something different from the life of men in the world, and that is certainly right. And yet the priority of God which we have forgotten is worth it for everyone. If God is no longer important, the criteria move which establish what is important. Man and women, in setting aside God, submits himself to the constraints that make him the slave of material forces and thus opposed to his dignity. 

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, I became aware again of the priority of God and the divine liturgy. The misunderstanding of the liturgical reform that has spread widely in the Catholic Church has led to more and more emphasis on the aspect of education and its activity and creativity. The doings of men almost completely obscured the presence of God. In such a situation it became increasingly clear that the Church's existence lives in the proper celebration of the liturgy and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy and so in life. The deepest cause of the crisis that has upset the Church lies in the obscurity of God's priority in the liturgy.

All this led me to devote myself more to the theme of the liturgy than in the past because I knew that the true renewal of the liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Church. Based on this belief, the studies that have been collected in this volume 11 of the Opera Omnia have been born. But at the bottom, albeit with all the differences, the essence of the liturgy in the East and West is unique and the same. And so I hope that this book will also help the Christians of Russia to understand in a new and better way the great gift that has been given to us in the Holy Liturgy.


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