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New words from Benedict XVI: “If God is no longer important…”

Germany's Joseph Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI, appears at the window of St Peter's Basilica's main balcony after being elected the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church 19 April 2005 at the Vatican City. AFP PHOTO THOMAS COEX / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX

Shortly after his 90th birthday, Pope Benedict was given the gift of a book — his Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, translated into Russian. Benedict himself had written the foreword for the new edition, and today, La Stampa published the brief entry.

Over at Pray, Tell Blog, Anthony Ruff, OSB, from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, offers a quick translation, which is striking:

In the consciousness of the people of today, the things of God and thus of the liturgy do not appear at all urgent. There is an urgency about every possible thing. But the matter of God does not seem to be urgent. … And yet the priority of God whom we have forgotten holds true for everyone. If God is no longer important, the criteria for establishing what is important are displaced. Humans, in putting aside God, submit themselves to the constraints that make them the slave of material forces and thus at odds with their dignity.

As the Romans would say, rem acu tetigisti. It touches the matter with a needle, and reminds me a little of Chesterton’s line: “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age”

That we are looking at a translation by a Benedictine is particularly appropriate, as Benedict’s brief foreword strongly references the Holy Rule of St. Benedict. Do read the whole thing.

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