Pope Francis addressed participants in a course for Diocesan liturgical officials on Friday. He emphasized that liturgy is fundamentally about the encounter with Christ, and encouraged reverent celebrations.
The Pope stressed the importance of prioritizing the “fruitful participation of God’s people” in order “to lead the people to Christ, and Christ to the people.”
He warned against the danger of putting ritual before the encounter with Christ, saying that this approach leads to “beautiful rituals, but without strength, without flavor, without meaning, because they do not touch the heart and existence of God’s people.”
The Pope also emphasized the importance of reverence in the Mass. He suggested that liturgists should “organize a liturgy that can be imitated, with adaptations that the community can take in to grow in liturgical life” when visiting parishes.
He added that “to go to parishes and say nothing when faced with liturgies that are somewhat sloppy, neglected, poorly prepared, means not helping communities, not accompanying them.”
Pope Francis also discussed the role of the master of liturgical celebrations, or “master of ceremonies.” He stated that this role is a diakonia, or service, and that the master of celebrations should “collaborate with the bishops in the service of the community.”
He also said that problems arise when the master of celebrations is at the center of the liturgy, and that the master of ceremonies should be as hidden as possible.
Addressing priests’ homilies, he spoke in no uncertain words: “they are a disaster.”
“Please, the homilies, which are a disaster in general. At times I hear someone: ‘Yes, I went to Mass in that parish… yes, a good lesson of philosophy, forty, forty-five minutes… Eight, ten, no more! And always a thought, a sentiment and an image. Let people take something home with them. In Evangelii Gaudium I wanted to emphasize this. And I said it many times, because it is something that we end up not understanding: the homily is not a conference, it is a sacramental.”
Pope Francis ended his speech with a papal blessing and prayer:
“I wish you good work, and I bless you from my heart. And please, I ask you to pray for me, don’t forget. Thank you!”
Pray for faithful liturgy!