Pope Francis focused on the Eucharist and highlighted the importance of how we attend and participate in the Mass in order to really experience our relationship with God. Speaking to a 13,000 strong crowd gathered in St Peter's Square for the General Audience, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that the Eucharist is a wonderful event during which Jesus Christ, our life, becomes present. But, he said that while the Lord is present with us at Mass, often "we talk among ourselves and we are not close to Him."
He explained that for us Christians it is essential to understand the meaning and the value of Holy Mass in order to be able to fully live our relationship with God.
"We cannot forget the great number of Christians who, in the entire world, in two thousand years of history, have resisted until death in order to defend the Eucharist" he said. And he remembered those whom, he said, "still today, risk their lives to participate at Sunday Mass".
The Pope recalled the history of Christians in North Africa who were caught celebrating Mass in 304, during the persecutions by the Roman Emperor Diocletian: "When asked why they had faced such danger, the Christians said that their Christian life would end if they did not go to Mass."
Those Christians, he said, were killed and became witnesses of the Eucharist, which they chose over their mortal lives.
Noting that it is important to go back to the roots and rediscover what is the true meaning of the actions we carry out during the celebration of the Sacraments, the Pope said the Eucharist allows us "to take part in the sacrifice of Mass and approach the table of the Lord."
He explained that the word Eucharist means thanksgiving, because we thank God for allowing us to receive him.
Pope Francis also referred to the Second Vatican Council which, he said, pushed forward a series of liturgical renewals in order to encourage the encounter between the faithful and Christ.
Describing the Sacrament of the Eucharist as "an amazing event during which the Lord is present," the Pope noted that too often the faithful describe the Mass as boring. "Is the Lord boring? He asked those present: No, no, it's the priest. It's the priests? Then the priests must convert!"
Then, explaining why we do certain things during Mass he posed the question: "Have you seen the way children make the sign of the Cross?...We must teach them, he said, how to do it well, because that is how Mass begins, that is how life begins, that is how the day begins!"
Pope Francis remarked on the fact that the priest who celebrates says: "Lift up your hearts" not "Lift up your cellphones to take a photo!"
"This is a bad thing" he said. "It makes me very sad when I celebrate Mass here in the Square or in the Basilica and I see many cellphones raised. And it's not only the faithful, but also many priests and bishops. Please! Mass is not a show!"
It is very important, Pope Francis concluded, to rediscover the meaning of the Eucharist and of the other Sacraments which are the signs of God's love, the privileged ways to meet with Him.
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