"It is not a matter of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons, even through historical documentation, of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it."
This comes as Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has in recent years called a "reform of the reform" a "spiritual necessity", saying its possibility or desirability cannot be dismissed and that "that there has been an increasing amount of critical study by faithful sons and daughters of the Church asking whether what was in fact produced truly implemented the aims of [Sacrosanctum Concilium], or whether in reality they went beyond them."
Having iterated the irreversibility of the liturgical reform, Pope Francis then turned to the theme of the liturgical week, " A living liturgy for a living Church".
The Church sought a liturgy that was "alive" and helped the Church to become "fully enlivened by the celebrated mysteries," he said.
Quoting Sacrosanctum Concilium, he said faithful shouldn't go to the liturgy "as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration."
Pope Francis then outlined three key points to living the liturgy, which he said is centered on Christ, involves the entire people of God, and serves as a school of Christian life.
The liturgy "is alive" thanks to the sacrifice of Christ, who through his death and resurrection gave us new life, the Pope said, explaining that without "the real presence of the mystery of Christ, there is no liturgical vitality."
"As without a heartbeat there is no human life, so without the beating heart of Christ no liturgical action exists," he said.
Going on, Francis said the liturgy is also a source of life "for the entire people of the Church," and because of this, her nature is in fact "popular" and not "clerical," since it's ultimately an action "for the people, but also by the people."
Even in her many liturgical prayers the Church recalls that the liturgy itself is an action of God for the good of the people, but it's also an action from the people, "who listen to God" and praise him through the various signs they perform.
The Church, he said, gathers together all those whose heart is open to hearing the Gospel, including "the small and the great, the rich and the poor, children and elderly, healthy and sick, the just and sinners." Thus, in Christ the liturgical assembly surpasses "every boundary of age, race, language and nation."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
In fact, the Pope said the "popular" scope of the liturgy "reminds us that it is inclusive and not exclusive, advocating communion with all but without being homologous."
Finally, Francis said the liturgy serves as a "school of Christian life," which initiates a process of "transforming the way of thinking and acting, and not filling a bag of it's own ideas about God."
"The liturgy is life and not an idea to understand," he said. Nor is it "a doctrine to understand or a rite to complete."
"It's naturally also this but in another way, it's essentially different: it's a source of life and light for our journey of faith."
Pope Francis closed his address by telling attendees that the Church is only truly alive if she "brings life, is mother and is missionary, going out to meet the other, urging to service without pursuing worldly powers that make it sterile."
He also noted that the "richness" of the liturgy extends beyond the Roman Rite, and pointed to the liturgical "harmony" the Catholic Church shares with Eastern rites.