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Pope affirms that Mass is more than a mere 'representation'
by Elise Harris
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on April 7, 2013 Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on April 7, 2013 Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA

.- In his daily homily, Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of the Liturgy, highlighting how it is a real participation in Jesus’ presence, and encouraged all to enter more fully into the mystery of the Mass.

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation. It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself,” the Pope explained in his Feb. 10 homily.

Speaking to those present in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the Pope centered his reflections on the “theophany” spoken of in the first reading, taken from the First book of Kings, in which David’s son Solomon, the new king, places the arc of the covenant in the temple, and God’s presence descends upon it in the form of a cloud.

Listing the many ways that God speaks to his people, the pontiff emphasized that a theophany is “different,” and that it speaks in different way than prophets or scripture because “it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.”

He then observed how this same thing happens during the Mass, highlighting that it is not just a “social act” or a prayer gathering, but “the presence of the Lord is real, truly real.”

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper,” noted the Pope, explaining that “it is the Last Supper itself,” and that it “is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord.”

“It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”

Calling to mind how some people say that they are going to “to hear Mass,” the pontiff emphasized that “the Mass is not ‘heard,’” but “it is participated in,” and that “it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”

Representations, he said, are things like nativity scenes or even praying the Stations of the Cross, but the Mass “is a real commemoration” in which “God approaches and is with us, and we participate in the mystery of the Redemption.”

Pope Francis then lamented that there are often many who look at the clock during Mass, “counting the minutes” until it is over, highlighting that this “is not the attitude the liturgy requires of us.”

“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery,” he stated, affirming to those present that “I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery.”

“However,” noted the Pope, “someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta: it’s a tourist stop, right?’”

“All of you here, we are gathered her to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us,” the pontiff stressed.

Recalling his preparation to receive Holy Communion as a child, the Pope observed that when his class was given un-consecrated hosts to use as practice, they were told that “these count for nothing,” because they have to be consecrated.

Therefore, “to celebrate the liturgy is to have this availability to enter into the mystery of God,” and to entrust ourselves to this mystery, he said.

Concluding his homily, the pontiff encouraged all present to ask that the Lord give each of us “this ‘sense of the sacred,’” and that “to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers,” is one thing, but “the Eucharistic celebration is something else.”

“In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power...He is everything,” expressed the Pope.

“Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”

Tags: Pope, Prayer, Eucharist, Mass


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