In his homily at the Chrism Mass this morning in Rome, Pope Francis gave some hints of his liturgical priorities and his about understanding of how priests and the lay faithful relate.
After referring to sacred robes, precious oil, onyx stones, the ephod and breastplate of the priests of the Old Testament, Pope Francis said this:
From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn to a consideration of activity, action.
Pope Francis emphasized that the activity and action of the priest today should become a sort of anointment for his people:
A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality,
Speaking of the mission of priests, he said:
We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering…
He spoke critically of priests who fail to go out:
A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little… misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart.
He said that
some priests grow dissatisfied, become sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties..
Pope Francis concluded by addressing the laity before addressing the priests. He implored the lay faithful,
“Be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers.”
He then turned to priests, counting himself among them rather than addressing them:
“May [God the Father] renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone.”
Read the full homily here.