Earlier this month, our first life member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, Christopher Mahon, got a chance to meet Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship while attending the Sacra Liturgica 2017 conference in Milan.
We were all joking that he might become a second degree relic someday since everyone I know who follows news about the Catholic Church closely loves Cardinal Robert Sarah and is already rooting for him should a conclave happen any time soon. We joke that someday Christopher might become a second class relic for having touched a man we believe will be named a saint one day. Without Cardinal Sarah, we might not have the beautiful Ordinariate liturgy Divine Worship: The Missal. Christopher said he got a chance to thank Cardinal Sarah for that.
Christopher is very tall, so Cardinal Sarah is not as tiny as he appears in this photo. I love what this Cardinal has to say in anything I have read of him. He inspires me in ways that remind me of the effect one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had on me when I first read him. I have Cardinal Sarah’s book God or Nothing and I look forward to reading the Power of Silence.
All of this is a lead up to this article by Matthew Schmitz at The Catholic Herald entitled Why Cardinal Sarah terrifies his critics.
After Pope Francis rejected Sarah’s call last year for priests to celebrate mass ad orientem, contempt for Sarah broke out in a shower of blows: “It is highly unusual for the Vatican to publicly slap down a Prince of the Church, yet not entirely surprising given how Cardinal Sarah has operated…” (Christopher Lamb, Tablet); “the Pope slapped down Cardinal Sarah quite strongly, with only a bit of face-saving spared him,” (Anthony Ruff, Pray Tell); “Pope slaps down Sarah” (Robert Mickens, on Twitter); “Pope Francis … slapped him down” (Mickens again, in Commonweal); “a further slap-down” (Mickens once more, a few months later in La Croix). Added up, it makes for quite a beating.
Everyone I know who pays attention loved Cardinal Sarah’s call for priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, but wait, there’s more in this article.
It is indeed remarkable that Sarah has suffered this hail of abuse with such grace. In his newly published book The Power of Silence, we hear his stifled cry of anguish:
I painfully experienced assassination by gossip, slander and public humiliation, and I learned that when a person has decided to destroy you, he has no lack of words, spite and hypocrisy; falsehood has an immense capacity for constructing arguments, proofs and truths out of sand. When this is the behaviour of men of the Church, and in particular of bishops, the pain is still deeper. But … we must remain calm and silent, asking for the grace never to give in to rancour, hatred and feelings of worthlessness. Let us stand firm in our love for God and for his Church, in humility.
Despite it all, Sarah is a man unbowed. His book reiterates his call for Mass ad orientem and the rest of the “reform of the reform”: “God willing, when he wills and as he wills, the reform of the reform will take place in the liturgy. Despite the gnashing of teeth, it will happen, for the future of the Church is at stake.”