We missed yesterday a delightful surprise at New Liturgical Movement: a talk by Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to the priests of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, the jurisdiction of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, himself formerly a high official in the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Sarah’s talk was about “liturgical life and the priesthood,” and it is a must-read lecture for priests and laity alike. It has been exclusively shared with NLM, so we will not quote much of it, instead encouraging you to read the whole thing there. However, we will quote one brief passage from the talk:
Firstly, let us ask ourselves: how do we pray the Divine Office? Is it something that we have to ‘get done’ as soon as possible each day so as to be ‘free’ to get on with other tasks? Do I even neglect to pray it sometimes? Certainly, pastoral life is busy, but if I do not pray the Prayer of the Church as I have solemnly promised to do, or if I do not pray it with fervour, with devotion, and indeed liturgically, then I am failing to nourish my soul and I am endangering my vocation.
Practically speaking I would suggest this: as often as is possible pray the Divine Office liturgically, together with others, most especially with your people, for the Office is not a text to be read but a rite to be celebrated, with its own rituals, postures, chant, etc. And if circumstances dictate that you must pray the Office by yourself, do as much as you can to make it a liturgical rite—pray it in an oratory if possible, standing and sitting and so on at the appropriate times. Sing the Office if it is possible—it is not a book to be read in an armchair; rather it is the loving song of the Church, of the Bride, to Him Who has redeemed us.
(Emphasis supplied.) Music to our ears! Say what you will about Mass celebrated ad orientem or versus apsidem—the ancient tradition of the Church, which was abandoned only the day before yesterday, practically speaking, and for almost no reason at all. But how can anyone object to the regular celebration of the Divine Office with one’s congregation? How can anyone object to parishioners forming scholae to participate in the liturgy in a more meaningful way—by singing it, preferably in Latin—connecting themselves with their fathers in the faith going back all the way to the earliest days of the Church in Jerusalem?
It is another example of the great Cardinal’s clear thinking and frank talk.