Pope: Mass is not a prayer gathering for believers, it is a "Theophany”, the real presence of the Lord
Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - " The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of believers to pray together It is another thing. In the liturgy, God is present", but it is a closer presence. At Mass, "the presence of the Lord is real, very real". Rediscovering the "sense of the sacred", "entering into the mystery of God, allowing ourselves to be part of the mystery", was the focus of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, during which he also joked that going to Mass with the Pope is not a "tourist attraction".
Vatican Radio reports that Francis focused on the first reading of the day, which speaks of a theophany of God at the time of King Solomon. The Lord descends like a cloud on the Temple, which is filled with the glory of God. The Lord - said the Pope - speaks to his people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Holy Scripture. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, "different from the Word: there is another, closer presence, without mediation, near. It is His presence". "This - he said - happens in the liturgical celebration. The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of believers to pray together. It is another thing. In the liturgy, God is present", but it is a closer presence. At Mass, "the presence of the Lord is real, very real".
"When we celebrate Mass, we are not re-enacting the Last Supper: no, it is not a re-enactment. It is something more: it really is the Last Supper. It is really living the Passion and the redemptive death of the Lord once more. It is a theophany: the Lord is present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. We hear or say, 'But I can not, now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass'. We do not 'hear' Mass, we participate, we participate in this theophany, in this mystery of the Lord's presence among us".
Pope Francis explained that the nativity scene, the Way of the Cross, are representations, Mass, however, "is a real commemoration, in other words, a theophany; God draws close and is with us, and we share in the mystery of Redemption". Sadly - he added - many times we look at our watches at Mass, "we count down the minutes": "this is not the attitude that the liturgy asks of us: the liturgy is God's time and God's space, and we must place ourselves there, in God's time, in God's space without watching the clock".
"The liturgy is entering into the mystery of God, allowing ourselves be led to the mystery and being part of the mystery. For example, I'm sure you all come here to enter into the mystery, although, perhaps someone says, 'Oh, I have to go to Mass in Santa Marta, because there is a visit with the Pope in Santa Marta every morning as part of the sightseeing tour of Rome: it's a tourist site, is it not it?', (he laughs) . All of you come here, we gather here to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God's time and God's space; it is the cloud of God that surrounds us all".
The Pope recalled that, as a child, during the preparation for First Holy Communion, there was a song that showed how the altar was guarded by angels to give "a sense of the glory of God, the space of God, time of God". And when, during rehearsals, they carried the hosts, the children were told: "Look, these are not what you will receive: these are not worth anything, because first there will be the consecration". Thus, the Pope concludes, "to celebrate the liturgy means having this willingness to enter into the mystery of God," into His space, His time, and trust in "this mystery".
"We will do well today to ask the Lord to give us all this 'sense of the sacred', this sense that we understand that it is one thing to pray at home, pray at church, pray the Rosary, pray many beautiful prayers, do the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, read the Bible ... and another to celebrate the Eucharist. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, on that path that we can not control: only He is the One, He is the glory, He is the all powerful, He is everything. We ask for this grace that the Lord teach us to enter into the mystery of God".