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Mass is a time for silence and prayer, not idle chitchat, pope says

Pope Francis looks on during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 15 Nov 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY – Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said.

At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing “to meet with Jesus” instead of engaging in “chitchat,” the pope said on 15 Nov 2017 during his weekly general audience.

“Silence is so important,” he said. “Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us.”

The pope continued his new series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is “the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete” way of encountering God’s love.

“This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

In the Gospels, he continued, Jesus teaches his disciples that the first thing needed to pray “is to know how to say ‘father'” and to trust in God with the humility of a child.

Christians also must allow themselves to be “surprised by the living encounter with the Lord,” he said, and not simply “talk to God like a parrot,” repeating the words of prayers without thinking.

“The encounter with God is a living encounter,” the pope said departing from his prepared remarks. “It is not an encounter of a museum, it is a living encounter. And we go to Mass, not a museum! We go to a living encounter with the Lord.”

Pope Francis said the Mass is also a gift and a consolation where Christians discover that God’s greatest surprise is that he “loves us even in our weakness.”

“The Lord encounters our frailty,” the pope said. “This is the environment of the Eucharist. This is prayer.” – CNS

Pope Francis tells his audience to stop taking cell-phone photos at Mass

Members of the faithful take photos of Pope Francis, as he arrives to lead the Liturgy of Penance in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 17 March  2017.  (Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY – On Wednesday Pope Francis chastised those who spend Mass talking to others, looking at their phone or even taking pictures during papal liturgies, saying these are distractions that take focus away from the “heart of the Church,” which is the Eucharist.

“The Mass is not a show: it is to go to meet the passion and resurrection of the Lord,” the Pope said on 8 Nov 2017. “The Lord is here with us, present. Many times we go there, we look at things and chat among ourselves while the priest celebrates the Eucharist… But it is the Lord!”

In particular, Francis condemned the use of cell phones to take photos at papal Masses. At one point during the Mass the priest says, “we lift up our hearts,” he said. “He does not say, ‘We lift up our phones to take photographs!’”

“It’s a bad thing! And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the Piazza or Basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops.”

“But think: when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted. (But) it is the Lord!”

During the general audience, Pope Francis said the Eucharist would be the new focus of his weekly catechesis for the year, because “it is fundamental for us Christians to understand well the value and meaning of the Holy Mass to live more and more fully our relationship with God.”

In the Eucharist we rediscover, through our senses, what is essential, he said. Just as the Apostle Thomas asked to see and touch the wounds of Jesus after his resurrection, we need the same thing: “to see him and touch him to be able to recognise him.”

In this way, the Sacraments meet this very “human need” of ours, he said. And in the Eucharist, in particular, we find a privileged way to meet God and his love.

The Second Vatican Council was inspired by the desire to help Christians understand the beauty of the encounter in the Eucharist even better, he continued. This is why “it was necessary first to implement, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an adequate renewal of the liturgy.”

A central theme emphasised at Vatican II was the liturgical formation of the faithful, which Francis said is also the aim of the series of catechesis he began on Wednesday: to help people “grow in the knowledge of this great gift God has given us in the Eucharist.”

As a side note, Francis asked if people had noticed the chaotic way children make the sign of cross at Mass, moving their hand all over their chest, and asked people to teach children to make the sign of the cross well.

“We need to teach children to do the sign of the cross well,” he said, noting that this is how Mass begins, because just as Mass begins this way, “so life begins, so the day begins.”

Concluding his reflection on the Mass and the Eucharist, Pope Francis said that he hopes that through these brief weekly lessons, everyone will rediscover the beauty “hidden in the Eucharistic celebration, and which, when revealed, gives a full meaning to the life of everyone.” – CNA/EWTN News

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