In fact, I’ve begun a most important book, each page of which has been helping me make sense of today’s chaos within our Church and society. I warmly recommend The Day is Now Far Spent by the African Cardinal Robert Sarah. He is one of the few clear-thinking bishops today, a man of deep prayer, and courageous enough to speak truthfully about the essential crisis in the Church. Our crisis, he writes, is fundamentally about faith in God. Like St. Peter warming himself by the fire outside the Praetorium, we deny that we know Christ. We are embarrassed to admit there is a God, and that we need Him. Cardinal Sarah quotes Hierax, the third century martyr. The Roman Prefect Rusticus had asked him “who are your parents?” Hierax replies “Our true father is Christ, and our mother: faith in Him.” A man without faith, writes the Cardinal, is like a man who has no father or mother. Rootless and so “we rush toward suicide.”
To fill this terrible emptiness in our lives, we engage in ceaseless activity, unending twittering and babbling. We see “an unprecedented quantity of time and effort but with no result. Now the whole history of the Church shows that one saint is enough to transform thousands of souls.” Holiness born of silence and prayer is the priest’s first job, not social activity. He must be a saint himself, and then work to sanctify his people. Recently I spent a week in Germany with a dear priest friend. I saw a Church full of money and activity, but little faith. Although some bishops in Germany have remained faithful, and suffered greatly for their fidelity, the most powerful bishops of Germany are leading the Church into schism by proclaiming heresies about marriage, the Eucharist, and faith in Jesus Christ. The Church in Germany, which enjoyed a thriving faith only two generations ago, has become little more than a social aid organization and curator of museums (i.e., the thousands of beautiful but empty churches in Germany). All of this activity is funded by the government through the "church tax," which rivets the Church in Germany to the government. While many Catholics in Germany have remained faithful, the overwhelming trend in this once-Catholic country is to choose social activism over faith in God.
Cardinal Sarah’s insights on activism versus holiness is just one treasure I’ve discovered in his new book, certainly his best thus far. I’m inclined to think this book will distinguish the Guinean cardinal as one of the Church’s greater prophets in this dark period of Church history.