Liturgy must lead to awe, to unity, to mission, says Pope


VATICAN CITY – The study and celebration of the liturgy should lead to a sense of awe before God, a commitment to mission and growing unity within the Church, not to tension and contention, said the Pope Francis.

“When the liturgical life is a bit of a banner of division, there is the smell of the devil, of the deceiver. It is not possible to adore God and at the same time make the liturgy a battlefield”, the pope said May 7 during a meeting with students and professors of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St. Anselm in Rome.

The papal audience marked the conclusion of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Benedictine-run institute, which was founded after the Second Vatican Council and its reform of the liturgy.

Pope Francis said the institute responds “to the growing need of the people of God to live and participate more intensely in the liturgical life of the Church” by understanding it and experiencing “its mystery with an ever new sense of ‘wonder”.

“We don’t own the liturgy,” he said. On the contrary, the liturgy is lived and celebrated.

However, the pope said, people should be aware of “the temptation of liturgical formalism: to focus on forms, formalities rather than reality, as we see today in these movements which try to go back and to deny the Second Vatican Council”. Then the celebration is the recitation, it is something without life, without joy.”

The teaching of each council took time to be fully accepted, he said, and that is no different with Vatican II, especially with its reform of the liturgy.

He told students and professors that he remembered, in his youth, how people were so upset – “they rent their clothes” – by the reforms that began even before the council, such as the decision of the pope XII that drinking water did not violate the fast required before Mass. or allow people to fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation by attending a Saturday evening Mass or the restoration of the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening.

“All of these things scandalized closed minds,” he said, and “it still happens today. Indeed, those with closed minds use liturgical schemas to defend their own point of view. the liturgy: this is the drama we are living”. in ecclesial groups that distance themselves from the Church, questioning the council (and) the authority of the bishops” even though they claim to “preserve the tradition”.

The celebration of the liturgy must increase communion within the Church and unity with others, he said, because “the liturgical life opens us to each other, to those closest to and those furthest from the Church, in our common belonging to Christ”.

“To give glory to God in the liturgy finds its counterpart in the love of neighbor, in the commitment to live as brothers and sisters on a daily basis, in the community in which I find myself, with its merits and its limits”, declared Pope Francis.

And, he said, each mass or liturgy ends with the sending of members of the congregation on mission.

“What we live and celebrate leads us to meet others, to meet the world around us, to meet the joys and needs of so many people who perhaps live without knowing the gift of God” , he said. “An authentic liturgical life, in particular the Eucharist, always pushes us to charity, which is above all openness and attention to others.”

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