VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The “sense of mystery” and awe that Catholics should feel at Mass is not inspired by Latin or by “creative” elements added to the celebration, but by an awareness of the sacrifice of the Christ and his real presence in the Eucharist, said Pope Francis.
“Beauty, like truth, always engenders wonder, and when these refer to the mystery of God, they lead to adoration”, he wrote in an apostolic letter “on the liturgical formation of the people of God”.
Title “Desiderio Desideravi” (“I sincerely desired”), the letter was published on June 29, the feast of Saints. Peter and Paul. The title comes from Luke 22:15 when, before the Last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
In the letter, Pope Francis insisted that Catholics need to better understand the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council and its goal of promoting the “full, conscious, active and fruitful celebration” of the Mass.
“With this letter, I simply want to invite the whole Church to rediscover, safeguard and live the truth and power of Christian celebration,” the pope wrote. “I want the beauty of Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church not to be marred by a superficial and shortened understanding of its value or, even worse, by its exploitation in the service of an ideological vision, whoever she is. what color.
“The priestly prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper for all to be a judge each of our divisions around the broken bread, around the sacrament of mercy, sign of unity, bond of charity,” he said.
While his letter offered what he called a “meditation” on the power and beauty of the Mass, Pope Francis also reiterated his belief in the need to limit celebrations of the liturgy to the rite in use before the Vatican Council. II.
“We cannot return to this ritual form which the council fathers, ‘cum Petro et sub Petro’, (with and under Peter) felt the need to reform, approving, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and following their conscience of pastors, Pope the principles from which the reform was born.
The liturgical books approved by “the holy pontiffs Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II”, he said, “guaranteed the fidelity of the council’s reform”.
Although the post-Vatican II Mass is celebrated in Latin and dozens of vernacular languages, he said, it is “one and the same prayer capable of expressing its unity (that of the Church)” .
“As I have written before, I hear that this unity be restored throughout the Roman Rite Church,” he said, which is why in 2021 he promulgated “Traditionis Custodes” (Guardians of Tradition), limiting the celebrations of the Mass according to the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.
Much of the Pope’s new letter is aimed at helping Catholics learn to recognize and be amazed by the great gift of the Mass and the Eucharist and how it is not just a “stage show” or a weekly “performance” of the Last Supper, but truly enables people of all times and places to encounter the crucified and risen Lord and to eat his body and drink his blood.
And, wrote the Pope, it is essential to recognize that the Mass does not belong to the priest or to a particular faithful, but to Christ and his Church.
“The liturgy does not say ‘I’ but ‘we’, and any limitation of the scope of that ‘we’ is always demonic,” he said. “The liturgy does not leave us alone to seek a supposed individual knowledge of the mystery of God. Rather, it takes us by the hand, together, in assembly, to lead us to the depths of the mystery revealed to us by the word and the sacramental signs.
“In accordance with every action of God,” he said, the liturgy leads people into mystery using symbolic actions and signs.
Pope Francis has acknowledged that some people claim that by reforming the liturgy and allowing Mass celebrations in the language of the local congregation, he has somehow lost what is ‘signified by the vague expression’ sense of mystery. “”.
But the mystery celebrated and communicated, he says, is not about “a mysterious rite. It is, on the contrary, to marvel at the fact that the salvific plan of God was revealed in the paschal act of Jesus.
The liturgy uses “things which are the exact opposite of spiritual abstractions: bread, wine, oil, water, perfumes, fire, ashes, rock, fabrics, colors, the body, words, sounds, silences, gestures, space, movement, action. , order, time, light,” he said. These concrete things proclaim that “all creation is a manifestation of God’s love, and from the moment this same love was manifested in its fullness in the cross of Jesus, all creation was drawn towards it” .
However, Pope Francis wrote, the words, gestures and symbols to be used are only those approved by the Church.
“Let’s be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully nurtured — space, time, gestures, words, objects, clothing, song, music — and every rubric must be observed,” he wrote. Otherwise, the celebrant or the ministers risk “robbing the congregation of its due; that is, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual established by the Church.
Pope Francis has said that the “non-acceptance of the liturgical reform” of Vatican II, as well as “its superficial understanding, distracts us from the obligation to find answers to the question that I come back to repeat: how can we grow in our ability to fully live the liturgical action? How can we continue to be amazed by what is happening at the party before our eyes?
“We need a serious and dynamic liturgical formation,” he said.