God has become “obscured” in the liturgy, resulting in a crisis for the Church, Benedict XVI has said.

In a foreword to the Russian edition of his collected liturgical writings, reproduced in La Stampa, the Pope Emeritus said that a misunderstanding of the nature of liturgy had led to man putting “his own activity and creativity” at the heart of worship.

“Nothing precedes divine worship,” he said. “With these words, St Benedict, in his Rule (43.3), established the absolute priority of divine worship over any other task of monastic life.”

Even though agricultural and academic work were heavily time-consuming, St Benedict made sure the liturgy received maximum attention, emphasising “the priority of God Himself in our lives”, he said. Today, however, “the things of God and thus the liturgy do not appear urgent at all”.

The Church “lives from proper celebration of the liturgy” and is in danger when “the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy nor consequently in life”, the Pope Emeritus said. “The deepest cause of the crisis that has upset the Church lies in the obscuring of the priority of God in the liturgy.

“If God is no longer important, the criteria for establishing what is important are displaced,” Benedict said. If man set God aside, he would end up a “slave to material forces.”

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