VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Mass is not a show, but a beautiful, transformative encounter with the true loving presence of Christ, Pope Francis said.
That is why people need to focus their hearts on God, not focus their smartphones for pictures during Mass, he said.
(See a related video.)
When the priest celebrating Mass says, “Let us lift up our hearts,” he is not saying, “lift up our cellphones and take a picture. No. It’s an awful thing” to do, the pope said Nov. 8 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“It makes me so sad when I celebrate (Mass) in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cellphones in the air. And not just by the lay faithful, some priests and bishops, too,” he said.
“Please, Mass is not a show. It is going to encounter the Passion, the resurrection of the Lord,” he said to applause.
The pope’s remarks were part of a new series of audience talks on the Mass. The series, he said, should help people understand the true value and significance of the liturgy as an essential part of growing closer to God.
A major theme highlighted by the Second Vatican Council was that the liturgical formation of the lay faithful is “indispensable for a true renewal,” Pope Francis said. “And this is precisely the aim of this catechetical series that we begin today — to grow in understanding the great gift God gave us in the Eucharist.”
“The Second Vatican Council was strongly driven by the desire to lead Christians to an understanding of the grandeur of the faith and the beauty of the encounter with Christ,” he said. That is why, “with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an appropriate renewal of the liturgy” was necessary.
The Eucharist is a wonderful way Jesus Christ makes himself truly present in people’s lives, the pope said.
To take part in the Mass is to relive the Lord’s passion and redemptive death, where, on the altar, he is present and offers himself for the salvation of the world, Pope Francis said.
“The Lord is there with us and present,” he said. “But so many times we go, we look around, we chitchat with each other while the priest celebrates the Eucharist.”
If the president or any other famous or important person were to show up, he said, it would be a given “that we all would be near him, we would want to greet him. But think about it, when you go to Mass, the Lord is there and you, you are distracted, (your mind) wanders. Yet, it is the Lord!”
People should reflect on this, he said, and if they complain, “‘Oh father, Mass is boring.’ What are you saying? The Lord is boring? ‘No, not the Mass, but the priest.’ Ah, well, may the priest be converted,” but just never forget that the Lord is always there.
Catholics need to learn or rediscover many of the basics about the Mass and how the sacraments allow people to “see and touch” Christ’s body and wounds so as to be able to recognize him, just as the apostle St. Thomas did.
He said the series would include answering the following questions:
— Why make the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass? Why is it important to teach children how to make the sign of the cross properly and what does it mean?
— What are the Mass readings for and why are they included in the Mass?
— What does is mean for people to participate in the Lord’s sacrifice and come to his table?
— What are people seeking? Is it the overflowing fount of living water for eternal life?
— Do people understand the importance of praise and thanksgiving with the Eucharist and that receiving it “makes us one body in Christ”?
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This past Saturday, I attended a Memorial Mass for my friend of 52 years in FL. I was enveloped in grief and the Mass was beautiful.
My dear friend’s urn and portrait were on a small table before the altar.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, 3 precious little altar girls knelt on the step to the altar, posed to ring the bells. They knelt just to the right of the table holding my friend. The Monsignor on the altar completed this vignette.
It was simply a magnificent picture that would have been a lasting memory of my friend on her journey to Paradise!
But I thought of the Pope’s words in this article and resisted my strong desire to snap this pure essence of faith!
Although the picture will remain in my mind forever, I regret not taking the photo. The image renewed my faith!
I rarely attend a Mass where cell phones are pulled out for a photo, with exception to special occasions like Mass with the Pope, first Communions, weddings, etc. I am not sure it is bad to take a picture of special occasions, but it is always nice when they announce that pictures can be taken later and the priest will stay to participate. This takes the pressure off. More frequently, my experience has been that someone has failed to silence the phone, and it goes off. This is annoying. To prevent this, I leave my phone in the car or at home for Sunday Mass, or silence it for daily Mass. One’s attitude begins before we attend Mass. I always told my kids that we were going to God’s house and it was a special occasion. Meaning, that they needed to prepare themselves both bodily and in their hearts. I think it is very hard to get families out of the house on time to Mass without struggles. Families need to make Mass a priority and kids need to take time for grooming as if they were going out with their friends (assuming this means they care how they present themselves and dress is appropriate). Parents too, need to take care of how they prepare themselves. I have a very holy friend who wears a suit to Mass. He is a lawyer. He says, I dress every day for clients out of respect, and I do the same for the Lord. One caveat- of course I do not mean that we should emphasize dress,image,or fashion; nor do I mean, that one has to have fine clothes to attend Mass. Finally, priests need to start Mass no sooner than the published time. That means if announcements are to be made, they do not start until the published time. It is very disappointing to finally get everyone there and Mass has started, or you feel late because they have begun announcements. It is unsettling, and makes Mass a chore we never get right.
Why anyone would THINK of it is beyond me. I’ve seen it done at Confirmations and 1st Communions when the congregation was TOLD that it was NOT permitted. Maybe we need to get back to what was done by Fr. Martin Hellriegel. If people weren’t holding the missalette, he had the ushers PUT it in their hands . (and he DIED 35+ years ago and wrote the hymn “To Jesus Christ Our Sovreign King”). The issue of reverence would be resolved and no one would leave Mass early.