How to Celebrate a Mass "Not an Academic Question"

Cardinal Arinze Says It Should Motivate the Faithful to Return

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Mass should be celebrated in such a way that it nourishes faith and gives people the “desire to return the next Sunday or even every day,” says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, made that comment on Vatican Radio as a meeting on liturgy got under way.

Fifty-one members of the Vatican congregation, including 32 cardinals, are attending the meeting that ends Friday.

The meeting’s three main topics are the art of celebrating the Eucharist, the preaching of homilies, and proper liturgical formation.

The assembly heard an address on “ars celebrandi” — the art of celebrating — by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires.

On Tuesday, Cardinal Arinze told Vatican Radio: “The art of celebrating is important. It is not an academic question.”

“Not only is it about observing liturgical norms, which is always important, but above all of having a celebration that manifests the faith of the priest and the faithful; a celebration that nourishes the people’s faith, so that when they leave they really feel nourished, reinforced, with the desire to return the next Sunday or even every day,” said the cardinal.

“In short, a celebration with dignity and discipline, and especially with faith and devotion,” he said.

Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay, India, spoke to the assembly on the subject of homilies.

According to Cardinal Arinze, the characteristics of a homily are, above all, “clear liturgical content, especially based on the readings, and solid theological content.”

“The people of God must receive good food,” he said. “For many Christians, the homily is the great weekly opportunity to be truly nourished and to be formed in the faith.”

“The homily must have the correct duration. It is not a mathematical question, but it is necessary to remember that in the church we have faithful of 80 and 20 years, as well as children of 7. How long can they maintain vigilant attention?” he asked.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, of Lyon, France, addressed the topic of liturgical formation.

Cardinal Arinze, in his Vatican Radio interview, said: “This formation is not only for the clergy, but also for men and women religious, lay men and women, for all of us! It is something that must be continued. No one can know it all once and for all.

“It would be lovely if, before going to Mass on Sunday, the texts could be read at home, especially the readings and prayers and then, once back home, be reviewed. In this way we would really advance in the faith.”

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