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Pope's Catechesis: Series on Mass Continues

General Audience — November 22, 2917

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Continuing with the new series of catecheses on the Holy Mass, in his address in Italian the Pope reflected on the theme: “The Mass Is the Memorial of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.”
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father addressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Continuing with the catecheses on the Mass, we can ask ourselves: What is the Mass essentially? The Mass is the memorial of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. It makes us participants in His victory over sin and death and gives full meaning to our life.
Therefore, to understand the value of the Mass we must then understand, first of all, the biblical meaning of the “memorial.” It is “not merely the recollection of past events, but in a certain sense renders them present and real. Thus, in fact, Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers, so that they may conform their lives to them. “ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1363). With His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, Jesus Christ has brought Passover to fulfillment. And the Mass is the memorial of His Passover, of His “exodus,” which He carried out for us, to make us come out of slavery and to introduce us in the Promised Land of eternal life. It’s not merely a recollection no, it’s more: it makes present what happened 20 centuries ago. The Eucharist always leads us to the summit of God’s action of salvation: the Lord Jesus, making Himself broken bread for us, sheds on us all His mercy and His love, as He did on the cross, so as to renew our heart, our existence and our way of relating to Him and to brothers. Vatican Council II states: “Every time that the sacrifice of the cross — with which Christ, our Paschal Lamb, was immolated –, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our Redemption is effected” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 3).
Every celebration of the Eucharist is a ray of that sun without a sunset, which is Jesus Risen. To take part in the Mass, in particular on Sunday, means to enter into the victory of the Risen One, to be illumined by His light, warmed by His warmth. Through the Eucharistic Celebration, the Holy Spirit makes us participants in the divine life, which is able to transfigure our whole mortal existence. And in His passage from death to life, from time to eternity, the Lord Jesus draws us with Him to <celebrate> Easter. Easter is celebrated in the Mass. At Mass, we are with Jesus, dead and risen, and He draws us forward, to eternal life. In the Mass, we are united to Him. Rather, Christ lives in us and we live in Him. ”I have been crucified with Christ — says Saint Paul –, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20). Paul thought thus.
In fact, His Blood frees us from death and from the fear of death. It liberates us not only from the dominion of physical death but of spiritual death, which is the evil, the sin that takes hold of us every time that we fall victims of our sin or of that of others. And then our life is polluted, it loses <its> beauty, it loses meaning, it withers.
Instead, Christ gives life back to us; Christ is the fullness of life, and when He confronted death He annihilated it forever: “Rising He destroyed death and renewed life,” (Eucharistic Prayer IV). Christ’s Passover is the definitive victory over death because He transformed His death into a supreme act of love. He died for love! And in the Eucharist, He wishes to communicate to us His paschal, victorious love. If we receive it with faith, we can also truly love God and our neighbor, we can love as He loved us, giving His life.
If the love of Christ is in me, I can give myself fully to the other, in the interior certainty that even if the other were to wound me, I would not die; otherwise, I would have to defend myself. The Martyrs, in fact, gave their life for this certainty of Christ’s victory over death. Only if we experience this power of Christ, the power of His love, are we truly free to give ourselves without fear. This is the Mass: to enter in the Passion, Death, Resurrection <and> Ascension of Jesus; when we go to Mass it’s as if we went to Calvary, the same thing. But think: if we in the moment of Mass go to Calvary – let us think imaginatively – and we know that that man there is Jesus, do we then permit ourselves to chat, to take photographs, to engage somewhat in a show? No! Because it’s Jesus! We will certainly be in silence, in mourning and also in the joy of being saved. When we enter the church to celebrate Mass we <should> think this: I am entering in Calvary, where Jesus gives His life for me. And thus the show disappears, chats disappear, comments and the things that remove us from this most beautiful thing that is the Mass <disappear>, <it’s> the triumph of Jesus.
I think that now it’s clearer how Passover is rendered present and operative every time we celebrate Mass, namely, the meaning of the memorial. Participation in the Eucharist makes us enter in Christ’s Paschal Mystery, making us pass with Him from death to life, namely, there in Calvary. The Mass is to <relive> Calvary, it’s not a show.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I greet the participants in the Meeting of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations; the participants in the Chapter of the Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation; the participants in the Course of Formation for Missionaries at the Pontifical Salesian University and the members of the Benedict XIII Studies Center of Gravina in Puglia, accompanied by Archbishop Giovanni Ricchiuti.
I greet the Franciscan Family of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pozzo of Capurso; the parish groups, in particular, the faithful of Saint Teresa of the Cross in Lissone; the Association of Italian Blood Donors (AVIS), on the 90th anniversary of its foundation, and the UNITALSI Group of Emilia Romagna.
I greet the representatives of the Food Bank Foundation, and I wish every good for the food collection, which will take place next Saturday in active continuity with the World Day of the Poor, which we celebrated last Sunday.
Finally, I thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Cecilia. Dear young people, following her example, grow in the faith and in dedication to your neighbour; dear sick, in suffering you experience the support of Christ who is always beside one who is undergoing trial; and you, dear newlyweds, have the same look of pure love that Saint Cecilia had, to learn to love unconditionally. And let us all pray to Saint Cecilia, may she teach us to sing with the heart, may she teach us the jubilation of being saved
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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