Saturday, 26 December 2009

The first priority

Other bloggers have picked up on this extract from Pope Benedict's sermon at the Christmas Mass:
For most people, the things of God are not given priority, they do not impose themselves on us directly And so the great majority of us tend to postpone them. First we do what seems urgent here and now. In the list of priorities God is often more or less at the end. We can always deal with that later, we tend to think. The Gospel tells us: God is the highest priority. If anything in our life deserves haste without delay, then, it is God's work alone. The Rule of Saint Benedict contains this teaching: "Place nothing at all before the work of God (i.e. the divine office)". For monks, the Liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes later. In its essence, though, this saying applies to everyone. God is important, by far the most important thing in our lives. The shepherds teach us this priority. From them we should learn not to be crushed by all the pressing matters in our daily lives. From them we should learn the inner freedom to put other tasks in second place however important they may be so as to make our way towards God
Some years ago, I was responsible for the theological formation of permanent deacons. At a planning meeting, an eminent ecclesiastic said that he was concerned that some might be too fond of prancing round in liturgical finery and not devoted enough to works of charity. My response - and I still maintain this - is that all of the permanent deacons that I know give sterling service in pastoral charity but the one area in which some need a little extra help and formation is in the Sacred Liturgy which they might, in genuine humility, shy away from.

We need to get away from the false dichotomy that sets Liturgy against pastoral work and charity. Didn't Vatican II say that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the source and summit of the activity of the Church? (Sacrosanctum Concilium n.10)
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