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10/6/2017 8:03 PM
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Moscow Patriarchate publishes Russian edition
of Joseph Ratzinger’s ‘Theology of Liturgy’

Translated from

October 3, 2017

On Sept. 25, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Moscow Patrirachate’s department for external religious relations, presented to both Pope Francis and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI a copy of Vol. XI from Joseph Ratzinger’s COMPLETE WRITINGS, The Theology of Liturgy, translated to Russian and published by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

This initiative is an outcome of a formal scientific and editorial collaboration between the Patriarchate’s pubishing house, the internal association «Sofia : Idea Russa, Idea d’Europa», the international academy Sapientia et Scientia, the Vatican publishing house, and the Fondazione Vaticana Joseph Ratzinger-Benedetto XVI. Metropolitan Hilarion coordinated the project.

A formal presentation of the book will take place next spring in Moscow at the Patriarchate’s Theological School. The initiative will be followed by the Russian edition of Benedict XVI’s trilogy JESUS OF NAZARETH.

The emeritus Pope thanked Metropolitan Hilarion and expressed his wish that the Russian Orthodox faithful would find the book useful for a better understanding of liturgy.

The following is a translation of the Foreword written for the book by Benedict XVI:

Preface to the Russian edition of
Vol XI of Joseph Ratzinger’s COLLECTED WRITINGS
(The Theology of Liturgy)

“Let nothing be put before the Worship of God.” 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 could not be taken for granted, even in monastic life, because for the monks, working in agriculture and in the sciences were also essential tasks.

Whether in agriculture or in artisanship, or in the work of formation, there can certainly be temporal urgencies that might seem more important than the liturgy. In the face of all this, St. Benedict, by assigning priority to the liturgy, unequivocally highlights the priority of God himself in our life:“At the hour for the Divine Office, as soon as the signal is heard, let them abandon whatever they may have in hand and hasten with the greatest speed and seriousness”

In the consciousness of men today, the things of God, including the liturgy, do not, in fact, seem urgent. There is urgency for every other possible thing. God never seems to be a matter of urgency.

We can say that monastic life is, in any case, different from the life of men in the world, which is certainly correct. Yet the priority of God, which we have forgotten, is valid for everyone. If God is no longer important, then the criteria for establishing what is important becomes distorted. Man, by shelving God, subjects himself to constraints that render him a slave to material forces which violate his dignity.

In the years following the Second Vatican Council, there was renewed awareness of the priority of God and of the divine liturgy. The misinterpretation of the liturgical reform which became widespread in the Catholic Church led to placing more and more in the foreground the aspect of instruction and of human action and creativity. Man’s actions virtually led to forgetting the presence of God.

In such a situation, it becomes ever more clear that the Church lives from the correct celebration of liturgy and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer shows in liturgy and much less in life.

The most profound cause of the crisis that has upset the Church lies in this obscuring of the priority of God in the liturgy. All this led me to dedicate myself to the subject of liturgy much more amply than in the past because I knew that the true renewal of liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Church. It is on the basis of this conviction that the studies gathered in this Volume 11 of my Opera Omnia were born.

Fundamentally, the essence of the liturgy in both East and West is one and the same. So I hope this book may help even the Christians in Russia to understand in a new and better way the great gift that has been given to us in the Sacred Liturgy.

Vatican City
Feast of St. Benedict
July 11, 2015

Benedict XVI is right to worry about the liturgy
When the liturgy becomes secondary, clearly
the Church is not functioning as it is intended to

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

5 Oct 2017

Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, has written a very short foreword for the Russian edition of his book The Theology of Liturgy. It is short, but eloquent and full of meaning...

Is Benedict right? Of course he is. He is completely correct to point out that the purpose of the Church is the worship of God, and when the liturgy becomes secondary, then clearly the Church is not functioning as it is intended to, and neither are the people in it. This analysis is simple, but not simplistic. It is, rather, the simple truth.

Consider the life of a typical parish.
- How much time is spent on the Liturgy?
- How much effort goes into liturgical preparation?
- Are the social and educational activities of the parish all geared to the great end of enabling people to take part in the Liturgy?
- Or is the Liturgy something that feels “tacked on” or even worse, something that almost interferes with the other parish activities?
Parish activities are a good thing, but they should only happen for one reason – to build up the Body of Christ, the Body which takes part in the Liturgy.

Again, consider the life of a typical priest.
- Is he in the sacristy ready for Mass in good time?
- Or does he rush in at a minute or two before Mass is due to begin, out of breath and distracted?
- Does he spend far too much of his time dealing with invoices about double glazing, and fielding phone calls from photocopying companies, rather than celebrating the Liturgy, planning the celebration, making sure everything is ready for the celebration, and talking to his parishioners about the importance of the celebration, as well as, of course, perhaps most importantly of all, preparing himself in prayer for the celebration?

Again, are the people of the parish, encouraged by the priest, aware that Liturgy is addressed to God and God alone, rather than to the congregation, and that Liturgy is a language, and that every language makes sense because it has its own grammar?
- Are priest and people aware that certain practices, rightly called abuses, destroy the meaning of the Liturgy from within? - -- Have they imbibed the teaching of Redemptionis Sacramentum ,the 2004 instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship, which lays out what is to be done and what is to be avoided, in order to protect the integrity of the liturgy?
One hopes they are, though there is always work to be done in this field, as evidenced by some continuing practices in some parts of the world.

Benedict XVI has done us all a great service, reminding us that in the end, the Church’s chief function is the Liturgy. Get that right, and everything else follows. Get it wrong, and everything falls apart.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/6/2017 8:05 PM]
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