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The Essential Quotes of Robert Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah is one of our most quotable Catholics. Sarah is also one of the greatest voices for orthodoxy in the Church today. The following pages of quotes will help you peer into this great man's mind. Scroll down for Cardinal Sarah quotes, the bio comes first.

Sarah is a prominent Cardinal. He was also considered a papabile, or candidate for the papacy, during the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis. Sarah also recently co-authored a book on priestly celibacy with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. (The pope would later demote himself from co-author to contributor.)

You should definitely take the time to read the trilogy of books and interviews that Cardinal Sarah has put out with with Nicholas Diat. In the meantime, though, these quotes will be a great start. But seriously, go read them! They are excellent books.

The Sarah-Diat trilogy includes the books: God or NothingThe Power of SilenceThe Day Is Now Far Spent

Am I missing a particularly great quote from Cardinal Sarah? Please comment below - thanks!

Let's start with some more background on Robert Cardinal Sarah. Don't worry! The quotes are coming. Just scroll down, if you want to go straight to the Cardinal Sarah quotes ...

Biography: Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Sarah was born on June 15, 1945 in Ourous, a village in rural French Guinea. French Guinea is a country along the west coast of Africa, which achieved independence from France in 1958.

Sarah’s parents converted to Catholicism from an animistic native religion. He is a member of the Coniaguis ethnic group of northern Guinea. In 1957, at age 12, he entered Saint Augustine Minor Seminary in Bingerville, Ivory Coast, where he studied for three years.

On 13 August 1979, Sarah was appointed Archbishop of Conakry at the age of 34, making him the youngest bishop in the world. Saint Pope John Paul II called him “the baby bishop”.

Sarah served as archbishop under the Marxist dictatorship of Ahmed Sékou Touré, who named Sarah to his death-list. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat commented on Sarah’s role in resisting Touré’s dictatorship in his To Change the Church:

“[The Church, a small minority] managed to play a remarkable role under former Archbishop Robert Sarah in Guinea’s public life, especially when it came to speaking truth to power … Monsignor Robert Sarah is one of the most respected leaders among Guineans, who expressed their strong desire to see him lead the country’s political transition on various occasions between 2006 and 2010. He arguably earned much of this popular trust by speaking truth to power during the stormiest years of President Ahmed Sékou Touré’s regime, while other spiritual leaders endeavoured to cater to the regime.”

On 1 October 2001, Sarah was appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In fall 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Sarah president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and then proclaimed him Cardinal of the Deaconry of San Giovanni Bosco (Saint John Bosco) in Via Tuscolana.

He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elect-ed Pope Francis. Sarah was himself considered a papabile, or candidate for the papacy.

In November 2014, Pope Francis named Sarah Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Quotes and Excerpts from Robert Cardinal Sarah

Sarah has been a prominent voice in the College of Cardinals and in the Vatican. He has been a forceful advocate for traditional Catholic teaching, especially on questions of sexual morality and the right to life.

He has called gender ideology and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) the “two radicalizations” or “Apocalyptic beasts” that threaten the family, the first through divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion, the latter with child marriage, polygamy and the subjection of women. 

Sarah’s writings have been a clear voice for orthodoxy and truth during a period of confusion. That is why we are present-ing to you the following quotes and short excerpts from Robert Cardinal Sarah’s writings. Hopefully, they will be a great source of edification for you as Catholic men.

Trilogy of Interview Books by Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Cardinal Sarah has released a trilogy of interview books in conversation with Nicholas Diat.
The first volume, God or Nothing, tells the story of the Cardinal’s amazing life. The book describes his baptism from paganism as a young boy, his study in a French colonial seminary, becoming Archbishop of his native Guinea under an oppressive dictatorship, all while still a young man, and his later work at the Vatican.

The second volume, The Power of Silence, reflects on the need to withdraw from the omnipresence of technology and the ability to listen to God’s voice in silence. Quotes from this book are included in one of the following sections.

The third installment, The Day Is Now Far Spent, describes the crisis of faith that has led to a larger crisis within the Church. Quotes from this book are also included in one of the following sections.
Sarah also recently co-authored a book in praise of priestly celibacy with Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, though Benedict subsequently removed his formal attribution as co-author.

Here again are the links to the Cardinal Sarah trilogy of God or NothingThe Power of SilenceThe Day Is Now Far Spent.

Quotes from Robert Cardinal Sarah on Silence from The Power of Silence

Robert Cardinal Sarah wrote the The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press) with Nicolas Diat in 2016. Here are some important quotes from the book as selected by Deacon Richard Conlin:

“Man must make a choice: God or nothing, silence or noise.” (67)

“Prayer consists of listening to God speak silently within us.” (52)

“Sacred silence, laden with the adored presence, opens the way to mystical silence, full of loving intimacy.” (122)

“There is no place on earth where God is more present than in the human heart. This heart truly is God’s abode, the temple of silence… The Father waits for his children in their own hearts.” (23)

“Noise is a deceptive, addictive, and false tranquilizer. The tragedy of our world is never better summed up than in the fury of senseless noise that stubbornly hates silence. This age detests the things that silence brings us to: encounter, wonder, and kneeling before God.” (56)

“Nestling in silence against the heart of God, with the open Bible over our head like the wings of the Holy Spirit, is still the best antidote, the one thing necessary to chase away from our interior territory all that is useless, superfluous, worldly, and even our own self.” (74)

“Without silence, God disappears in the noise. And this noise becomes all the more obsessive because God is absent. Unless the world rediscovers silence, it is lost. The earth then rushes into nothingness.” (80)

“Mother Teresa had a face charred by God’s silences, but she bore within her and breathed love. By dint of remaining long hours before the burning flame of the Blessed Sacrament, her face was tanned, transformed by a daily face-to-face encounter with the Lord.” (98)

“If our ‘interior cell phone’ is always busy because we are ‘having a conversation’ with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he ‘call us’?” (144)

“Silence is an acoustic veil that protects the mystery… a sort of sonic iconostasis.” (124, 136)

Quotes from Robert Cardinal Sarah's God or Nothing

Cardinal Sarah wrote the God or Nothing with Nicolas Diat in 2015. Sarah again tackles many controversial topics. 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. Here are some powerful quotes from the book:

“Relativism is a widespread evil, and it is not easy to combat it. The task becomes more complex inasmuch as it arbitrarily serves as a sort of charter for a way of communal life. Relativism attempts to complete the process of the social disappearance of God. It guides mankind with an attractive logic that proves to be a perverse totalitarian system.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quotes on the Priesthood

“We need priests who are men of the interior life, “God’s watchmen” and pastors passionately committed to the evangelization of the world, and not social workers or politicians.”

“The only way to win this great combat is union with God. Christians will never succeed in overcoming the challenges of the world by appealing to political tools, human rights, or respect for religious liberty. The only true rick for the baptized is prayer and the encounter with Jesus Christ.”

“God is still calling as many men as in the past; it is the men whose hearing is not what it used to be.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quotes on Society and Politics

“Unfortunately, it is easier to destroy a country than to re-build it.”

“A Godless society, which considers any spiritual questions a dead letter, masks the emptiness of its materialism by killing time so as better to forget eternity.”

“Today all our freedoms are threatened. Economic, political, and media pressures never cease to diminish the connection between liberty and truth.”

“The most important moments in life are the hours of prayer and adoration. They give birth to a human being, fashion our true identity; they root our existence in mystery.”

“Soviet Communism showed how possible it was to lead mankind into misery while promising absolute equality.”

“If man claims to adapt the liturgy to his era, to transform it to suit the circumstances, divine worship dies. The development of some liturgical symbols is necessary sometimes; however, if man goes so far as to confuse the temporal and the eternal, he turns his back on the essential justification for the liturgy.”

“In your opinion, what would be the best way of summarizing the long pontificate of John Paul II? All those very productive years can be traced back to the three pillars of his interior life, which were the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Blessed Virgin, Crux, Hostia, et Virgo. His extraordinary faith sought the foundations for its strength only in the most ordinary tools of the Christian life.”

“Mankind has never been so rich, yet it reaches astounding heights of moral and spiritual destitution because of the poverty of our interpersonal relationships and the globalization of indifference.”

“True charity is neither almsgiving nor humanistic solidarity nor a form of philanthropy: charity is the expression of God and an extension of Christ’s presence in our world. Charity is not an ad hoc function but the inmost nature of the Church, intima Ecclesiae natura. It urges us to evangelize; to put it simply, the Church reveals the Love of God. Often the absence of God is the deepest root of human suffering. And so the Church gives the Love of God to all. Consequently, a Christian cannot perform acts of charity only for his brethren in Christ, but must do so for all men without any distinction.”

“I would like to quote also words by Paul VI, spoke on June 29, 1972, during a Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica. The pope did not hide his pain and anguish: ‘Given the situation in the Church today, we have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no confidence in the Church. Instead people put their trust in the first secular prophet who comes along to talk to us about a newspaper editorial or a social movement, and they run after him to ask him whether he has the formula for true life, ignoring the fact that we already have it, that we are the owners of that formula.’”

Here's the Amazon link to Robert Cardinal Sarah's The Day Is Now Far Spent:

Quotes from Robert Cardinal Sarah's The Day Is Now Far Spent

In The Day Is Now Far Spent, Cardinal Sarah explains that “the crisis that the Church is experiencing is much deeper [than problems with a business]; it is like a cancer eating away at the body from within … In large sectors of the Church, we have lost the sense of God’s objectivity. Each individual starts from his subjective experience and creates for himself a religion that suits him.”

Here are several quotations and selections from The Day Is Now Far Spent:

“True freedom lies in the battle to agree with the Father’s will and to correspond to it.”

“Simplicity, confidence, self-abandonment in God’s hands: that is our path to God. Christian life is a conspiracy of charity.”

Over and against a “veritable cacophony [that] reigns in the teachings of pastors, bishops, and priests” which has led to “confusion, ambiguity, and apostasy,” the Cardinal calls Catholics “to receive the Church’s teaching with a spirit of discipleship, with docility and humility.”

Sarah quotes Pope Benedict XVI that “the renewal of the liturgy is the fundamental prerequisite for the renewal of the Church.” He comments on this passage: “I humbly beg bishops, priests, and the people of God to care more for the sacred liturgy, to put God at the center of it, to ask Jesus Christ once again to teach us to pray. We have desacralized the Eucharistic celebration.” (111)

“Priests in particular ought to carry them in their heart when they climb the steps to the altar. They must remember that at the altar they are facing God. At Mass, the priest is not a professor who gives a lecture while using the altar as a podium centered on the microphone instead of the Cross. The altar is the sacred threshold par excellence, the place of the face-to-face encounter with God.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quotes on Western Civilization

The West “no longer weeps with gratitude before the Cross; it no longer trembles in amazement before the Blessed Sacrament. I think that men need to be astonished in order to adore, to praise, to thank this God who is so good and so great. Wisdom begins with wonder, Socrates said. The inability to wonder is the sign of a civilization that is dying.” (127)

“Man’s dignity is an echo of God’s transcendence. But if we no longer tremble with a joyful, reverential fear before the greatness of God, how could man be for us a mystery worthy of respect? He no longer has this divine nobility. He becomes a piece of merchandise, a laboratory specimen.”

“I am convinced,” Sarah states, “that Western civilization is going through a lethal crisis. It has reached the limits of self-destructive hatred” The Church must awaken to preserve “what is most human in man. She is the guardian of civilization.” (158)

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quotes on Technology, Materialism

“In our materialistic civilization, man thinks almost exclusively of his own narrow interests. He sees God as the one who ought to provide him with what consumption does not give him. God is utilized to satisfy selfish demands. If he does not answer prayer, they abandon him. Some even go so far as to blaspheme his holy name. The religion that ought to connect heaven and earth then runs the risk of becoming a purely narcissistic space.”

Sarah also returns to the theme of his previous book on silence and technology: “Modern man neglects his interior life so much that he longer knows what it means. He is submerged in the mud of passions, preoccupied with musing himself and enjoying all the pleasures of the world.” (251)

“Refusing to let God enter into all aspects of human life amounts to condemning man to solitude. He is no longer anything but an isolated individual, without origin or destiny. He finds himself condemned to wander through the world like a nomadic barbarian, without knowing that he is the son and heir of a Father who created him through love and calls him to share his eternal happiness. It is a profound error to think that God came to limit and frustrate our freedom. On the contrary, God comes to free us from solitude and to give meaning to our freedom. Modern man has made himself the prisoner of reason that is so autonomous that it has become solitary and autistic.”

“No! The world that should not be loved is another world, namely, the world as it has become under the dominion of Satan and of sin – the world of ideologies that deny human nature and destroy the family.”

“Dear young Christians, if it is permissible for an old man, like Saint John was, to speak to you directly, then I too exhort you, and I tell you: you have overcome the Evil One! Fight any law against nature that they try to impose on you, oppose any law against life, against the family. Be one of those who take the opposite direction! For us Christians, the opposite direction is not a place; it is a Person, it is Jesus Christ, our Friend and our Redeemer.”

Sarah also offers hope and inspiration for renewal: “We must burn with a love for our faith. We must not tarnish it or dilute it in worldly compromises … The day when we no longer burn with love for our faith, the world will die of cold, deprived of its most precious good. It is up to us to defend and to proclaim this faith!” (324)

“… and to each Christian they will say, as once to Francis of Assisi: “Go and repair my Church!” Go, repair by your faith, by your hope and your charity. Go and repair by your prayer and your fidelity. Thanks to you, my Church will again become my house.”

“For the Church’s mission is a mission of love, and love does not dominate. Love is there to serve and to die, so that man might have life, and have it abundantly. John Paul II was right when he used to say that we are only just starting to evangelize.”

Quotes from Robert Cardinal Sarah on Liturgy

“If man claims to adapt the liturgy to his era, to transform it to suit the circumstances, divine worship dies. The devel-opment of some liturgical symbols is necessary sometimes; however, if man goes so far as to confuse the temporal and the eternal, he turns his back on the essential justification for the liturgy.” [From God or Nothing]

Sarah quotes Pope Benedict XVI that “the renewal of the liturgy is the fundamental prerequisite for the renewal of the Church.” He comments on this passage: “I humbly beg bishops, priests, and the people of God to care more for the sacred liturgy, to put God at the center of it, to ask Jesus Christ once again to teach us to pray. We have desacralized the Eucharistic celebration.” (The Day Is Now Far Spent, 111)

>> Quotes from Robert Cardinal Sarah at 2016 UK Liturgy Conference

In July 5, 2016, the opening session of Sacra Liturgia U.K. featured an address by Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacra-ments.
His Eminence touched upon all of the major topics which constitute the on-going reform of the Roman Rite. The follow-ing are selections from the Cardinal’s address:

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quote on Ad Orientem Worship

“And so, dear Fathers, I ask you to implement this practice (ad orientem worship) wherever possible, with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people. Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, when we attend ‘the Lord who will come’ and ‘who will not delay’ (see: Introit, Mass of Wednesday of the first week of Advent) may be a very good time to do this. Dear Fathers, we should listen again to the lament of God proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “they have turned their back to me” (2:27). Let us turn again towards the Lord!”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quote on the Greater Use of Latin

“We must get the right balance between the vernacular lan-guages and the use of Latin in the liturgy. The Council never intended that the Roman rite be exclusively celebrated in the vernacular. But it did intend to allow its increased use, particularly for the readings. Today it should be possible, especially with modern means of printing, to facilitate comprehension by all when Latin is used, perhaps for the liturgy of the Eucharist, and of course this is particularly appropriate at international gatherings where the local vernacular is not understood by many. And naturally, when the vernacular is used, it must be a faithful translation of the original Latin, as Pope Francis recently affirmed to me.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quote on Kneeling for Communion

“So too kneeling at the consecration (unless I am sick) is essential. In the West this is an act of bodily adoration that humbles us before our Lord and God. It is itself an act of prayer. Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. Dear Fathers, where possible and with the pastoral prudence of which I spoke earlier, form your people in this beautiful act of worship and love. Let us kneel in adoration and love before the Eucharistic Lord once again!”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quote on Silence within the Liturgy

“We must ensure that adoration is at the heart of our liturgical celebrations. Too often we do not move from celebration to adoration, but if we do not do that I worry that we may not have always participated in the liturgy fully, internally…If I am never silent, if the liturgy gives me no space for silent prayer and contemplation, how can I adore Christ, how can I connect with him in my heart and soul? Silence is very important, and not only before and after the liturgy.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah Quote on Sacred Liturgical Music

“Before I conclude, please permit me to mention some other small ways which can also contribute to a more faithful implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. One is that we must sing the liturgy, we must sing the liturgical texts, respecting the liturgical traditions of the Church and rejoicing in the treasury of sacred music that is ours, most especially that music proper to the Roman rite, Gregorian chant. We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs.”

Remember! Please comment below with any additional Cardinal Sarah quotes - thanks!

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  1. I have read all his books and try to follow his talks. And also use his quotes to ask or answer many themes in my correspondence with my Spiritual Director.