Pope Francis on Active Participation and the ‘Sense of the Sacred’

Yesterday Pope Francis talked about the Mass during his homily at the Casa Santa Marta. He stressed the need for the faithful to recover a sense of the sacred, in their prayer lives at home and at Church. Among other things, he stressed the active participation of the faithful:

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. 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. We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.

Pope Francis also encouraged the faithful to view the Mass as an entry into the mystery of God:

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. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery; however, 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 [sic] 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.

And again:

We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us this ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible… 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. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.


  1. Like the kids say these days: nail, head.

    It shows that our Pope is not Mr. Anythinggoes, and it also shows that full, active participation is the gold standard. Smells and bells are fine, unless they are more of a distraction than a complement.

    I love this guy.

  2. So, in addition to a welcome and long overdue end of the use of the ridiculous words “hear Mass” here we have a Pope who believes the “mystery of God” is available there in the celebration of daily Mass according to the Missal decreed by Vatican II and authorised by Paul VI . . . without the need of eastward-facing, maniples, Latin, fanons, chant, cappa magnas, choir dress or any of the other add-ons so beloved of certain people who set themselves up as liturgical “experts” . . . what a difference a year makes, indeed.

  3. Pope Francis has forever put an end to the validity of Browning’s scathing ‘blessed mutter of the mass’ line. Bravo!

  4. “It is the Last Supper itself. 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.”

    It’s refreshing to hear that, too.

  5. Is this the fullest treatment of the liturgy by Francis in the past year? Unless I’ve missed something (meaning PrayTell did, which is unlikely) this seems to be the first real talk about the liturgy in a systematic (wrong word, but the best I can muster this late in the evening) way.

    And it’s great!

    Just when some thought he had nothing to say about liturgy…

  6. Everytime I give this message in a homily, usually bringing the missal over to the ambo, physically opening it to the specific passage in the GIRM, and reading the aforesaid passage aloud, I still get looks from people who think that this is a brand new teaching, or that I’m just making it up.

    They think their job is just to listen and absorb, not actively participating (I’m not referring to just singing or responding to prayers, etc.) in the Sacrifice or Participating in the divine.

    It can be frustrating at times, but I continue to try again and again. Maybe they will come around and more fully understand; I know I’m still trying.

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