Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pope Francis on the Divine Liturgy: "The center is God..." [UPDATED]

With all the talk of Pope Francis, this item, courtesy of Robert Moynihan (http://themoynihanletters.com) should greatly interest the readers of NLM.  (Note that this excerpt is from Letter #78, which is not yet available at the above-mentioned website.)
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Toward the end of the interview, a Russian journalist asks the Pope to comment on the 1025th anniversary, currently being celebrated in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, of the baptism of the Rus', the ancient Russian people, centered at the time (988 A.D.) in Kiev.

In response, the Pope makes a very positive judgement on the liturgy of the Orthodox. To my knowledge, this response has been little noted.

"They have conserved that pristine liturgy, no?" Pope Francis says. "So beautiful. We [i.e., the Latin Christians] have lost a bit the sense of adoration, they conserve it, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time does not count. The center is God and that is a richness that I would like to emphasize on this occasion as you ask me this question."

(Original Italian: "Hanno conservato quella pristina liturgia, no?, tanto bella. Noi abbiamo perso un po’ il senso dell’adorazione, loro lo conservano, loro lodano Dio, loro adorano Dio, cantano, il tempo non conta. Il centro è Dio e quella è una ricchezza che vorrei dire in questa occasione in cui Lei mi fa questa domanda.")

At a moment when many are continuing to wonder about Francis' attitude toward the old liturgy of the Church, it is important to note these words of the Pope, which as far as I know have not been noted by any journalist commenting on this long interview.

UPDATE:

In its publication in English of the Pope's press conference after World Youth Day, ZENIT gives us the complete response to the Russian journalist's question.

In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness that I would like to say on this occasion in which you ask me this question. Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the Church that has grown most, they said this phrase to me: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus.” Consumerism, wellbeing, have done us so much harm. Instead  you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reference.  When one reads Dostoyevsky – I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light of the East. John Paul II wrote it in his Letter. But so many times the luxus of the West makes us lose the horizon. I don’t know, it came to me to say this. Thank you.