God or Nothing
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: 2015-09-01
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"The idea of putting Magisterial teaching in a beautiful display case while separating it from pastoral practice, which then could evolve along with circumstances, fashions, and passions, is a sort of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology. I therefore solemnly state that the Church in Africa is staunchly opposed to any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and of the Magisterium. . . . The Church of Africa is committed in the name of the Lord Jesus to keeping unchanged the teaching of God and of the Church."
Robert Cardinal Sarah
In this fascinating autobiographical interview, one of the most prominent and outspoken Catholic Cardinals gives witness to his Christian faith and comments on many current controversial issues. The mission of the Church, the joy of the gospel, the heresy of activism, and the definition of marriage are among the topics he discusses with wisdom and eloquence.
Robert Cardinal Sarah grew up in Guinea, West Africa. Inspired by the missionary priests who made great sacrifices to bring the Faith to their remote village, his parents became Catholics. Robert discerned a call to the priesthood and entered the seminary at a young age, but due to the oppression of the Church by the government of Guinea, he continued his education outside of his homeland. He studied in France and nearby Senegal. Later he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, followed by a licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem.
At the age of thirty-four he became the youngest Bishop in the Catholic Church when John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, in 1979. His predecessor had been imprisoned by the Communist government for several years, and when Archbishop Sarah was targeted for assassination John Paul II called him to Rome to be Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI named him Cardinal and appointed him Prefect of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Pope Francis made him Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2014.
In God or Nothing, Cardinal Sarah has the courage to talk about the great spiritual crisis in the west. Read this book to take in a breath of fresh air when it comes to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Sarah shows you that you are not alone.
Benedict XVI often recalled that the liturgy is not supposed to be a work of personal creativity. If we make the liturgy for ourselves, it moves away from the divine; it becomes a ridiculous, vulgar, boring, theatrical game. We end up with liturgies that resemble variety shows, an amusing Sunday party at which to relax together after a week of work and cares of all sorts. Once that happens, the faithful go back home, after the celebration of the Eucharist, without having encountered God personally or having heard him in the inmost depths of the heart.
Western societies are organized and live as though God did not exist. Christians themselves, on many occasions, have settled down to a silent apostasy. If the concerns of contemporary man are centered almost exclusively on the economy, technology, and the immediacy of material happiness that has been wrongly sentimentalized, God becomes distant; often in the West the last things and eternity have unnecessarily become a sort of psychological burden.
The images of women that the Western media present are too often degrading and humiliating. A woman’s body is treated as merchandise for the depraved pleasure of certain men. Through organized prostitution, women become objects with commercial value. Yet the West falsely claims to champion and defend women’s rights.
The idea of a woman cardinal is as ridiculous as the idea of a priest who wanted to become a nun!
In the search for truth, I think it is necessary to acquire the ability to come to terms with oneself as “intolerant”, in other words, to have the courage to tell someone else that what he does is bad or wrong. Then we will be able to take someone else’s criticism when it is meant to open our eyes to the truth.
Prayer is the greatest need of the contemporary world; it remains the tool with which to reform the world. In an age that no longer prays, time is, so to speak, abolished, and life turns into a rat race. This is why prayer gives man the measure of himself and of the invisible world.
The west is losing its way because of its illusions, thinking that moral liberalism makes it possible for civilization to advance. How can anyone pretend that free access to pornography through the new means of communication, which is spreading a despicable view of sexuality—something sacred in itself, however—throughout society and even among very young people, is an example of progress in the world? How are we to understand the fact that the major UN agencies that claim to champion human rights do not fight vigorously against the powerful European and American sex industry? All of these dark clouds are signs of a world that lives far from Christ. Without the Son of God, man is lost and humanity has no future.
Why this frenzied desire to impose gender theory? An anthropological vision that was unknown a few years ago, the product of the strange thought of a few sociologists and writers like Michel Foucault, should suddenly become the world’s new El Dorado? It is impossible to remain complacent in the presence of such an immoral and demonic deception.
Euthanasia is the most acute indication of a Godless, subhuman society that has lost hope. I am astonished at how those who propagate this culture strike a conscientious pose and put on airs as though they were the heroes of a new humanity. In a strange sort of inversion of roles, pro-life people become monsters to be slain, barbarians from another age who reject progress. With the help of the media, the wolves persuade the unwary that they are well-meaning lambs siding with the weak! But this just makes the plan of those who promote abortion, euthanasia, and all the attacks on human dignity that much more dangerous.
Prayer is the source of our joy and serenity because it unites us to God, who is our strength. A sad man is not a disciple of Christ. Someone who relies on his own strength is always saddened when it declines. In contrast, a believer cannot be in sorrow because his joy comes from God alone.
Today there is a confrontation and a rebellion against God, a battle organized against Christ and his Church. How is it comprehensible that Catholic pastors should put doctrine to a vote: the law of God, and the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, on divorce and remarriage, as though from now on the Word of God and the Magisterium had to be sanctioned and approved by majority vote? Men who devise and elaborate strategies to kill God, to destroy the centuries-old doctrine and teaching of the Church, will themselves be swallowed up, carried off by their own earthly victory into the eternal fires of Gehenna.
If we do not turn our attention radically toward God, it becomes lukewarm, distracted, uncertain.
"I have read God or Nothing with great spiritual profit, joy, and gratitude. . . .[Its] courageous answers to the problems of gender theory clear up in a nebulous world a fundamental anthropological question."
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
"There s an African moment unfolding in Catholicism, and Cardinal Robert Sarah is among its most important voices. If you want to understand the forces shaping the Church s future, you need to read this book."
John L. Allen, Associate Editor, Crux/Boston Globe
"A remarkable testimonial of the Catholic faith in the face of many serious contemporary challenges."
Raymond Cardinal Burke,Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
"A clear and firm defense of Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family."
Walter Cardinal Brandmüller, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences
"Cardinal Sarah's voice carries the unmistakable ring of a prophet." --Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Anchor, The World Over
"In a breathtaking way, Cardinal Sarah quotes and incarnates the wisdom of Pope Benedict: 'Ideologues will not save the world but rather, the saints and their great, gentle insights.' " --Father George W. Rutler, Author, Hints of Heaven
"Sarah's clear and bold comments about the need for a profound renewal in the Church are truly refreshing and encouraging." --Father Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D.
"Cardinal Sarah reflects on the urgent question of God, who is becoming the 'Great Absent One' for too many people."
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Robert Sarah is a Guinean Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church. A Cardinal since November 2010, he was appointed as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis on 23 November 2014. He previously served as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
In 2016, Sarah called for priests to face the altar ad orientem (in the same direction as the congregation) while celebrating Mass, despite the fact that versus populum (facing the congregation) had become the prevailing practice following recommended changes to the liturgy made by the Second Vatican Council. The move was seen by some media commentators as a direct challenge to Pope Francis.
An opponent of same-sex marriage, he has denounced the "Western homosexual and abortion ideologies", personally suggesting that both are of "demonic origin" and comparing them to Nazism and Islamic terrorism. He has also been outspoken on the persecution of Christians under radical Islam.
I decided to read this book because of Cardinal Sarah’s immaculate reputation, especially when it comes to liturgical reform. In addition to that, I was desperately looking for signs of hope from our hierarchy in the Church.
This book was a breath of fresh air. It renewed my hope in the hierarchy, that there are some who DO get it, who do understand the challenges and crisis of the church today.
In addition to Cardinal Sarah’s refreshing analysis of the spiritual state of the world, I was also struck by his approach to prayer, with his focus on meditation, contemplation, and silence. It made realize how rigid, noisy, and remedial my current prayer life is. This book really made me eager to dive right into his other book, The Power of Silence, so I could delve even further into his approach to prayer.
The last thing that struck me about Cardinal Sarah’s perspective, is he has an incredible love and devotion to the Eucharist. After reading this book, I do feel that he is a godsend for us in the area of liturgical reform.
God or Nothing is very readable, engaging, and challenging --- all the things I personally look for in a book on the spiritual life. Cardinal Sarah is a reminder that we are not alone in this fight, that there are still giants among us.