On Saturday, the Holy Father presided over the Eucharistic celebration in the Roman parish of All Saints on the via Appia Nuova, in commemoration of the first Mass celebrated in Italian in that parish — according to the renewed liturgical norms established by Vatican Council II –, by Blessed Paul VI on March 7, 1965.
Following is a translation of the homily that Pope Francis gave after the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, as well as of the words he addressed at the end of the Mass to the faithful gathered in the courtyard of Saint Philip’s Institute.
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Jesus went to Jerusalem on the occasion of the Jewish Passover. Arriving at the Temple, he did not find people who sought God but people attending to their own affairs: merchants of livestock for the offering of sacrifices; money-changers who exchanged “impure” money bearing the image of the Emperor with money approved by the religious authorities to pay the Temple’s annual tax. What do we find when we go to our churches? I leave you with the question. The unworthy trade, source of rich earnings, aroused Jesus’ energetic reaction. He overturned the benches and threw the money on the ground, and drove out the merchants saying to them: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade!” (John 2:16).
This expression does not refer only to the traffic practiced in the courtyards of the Temple. Rather, it concerns a type of religiosity. Jesus’ gesture is a gesture of “cleansing,” of purification, and the attitude that He repudiates can be drawn from the prophetic texts, according to which God is not pleased with external worship made of material sacrifices and based on personal interest (Cf. Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:2-11). This gesture is a call to genuine worship, to correspondence between the liturgy and life; a call that is valid for every time and also for us today – the correspondence between liturgy and life. The liturgy is not something strange, there, distant, and while it is being celebrated I am thinking of many things, or I pray the Rosary. No, no. There is a correspondence between the liturgical celebration, which I then carry into my life; and on this more progress must be made, there is such a long way yet to go.
The Conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium defines the liturgy as “the first and indispensable source from which the faithful can draw the true Christian spirit”(n. 14). This means to reaffirm the essential bond that unites the life of Jesus’ disciple and liturgical worship. It is not, first of all, a doctrine to understand or a rite to carry out; it is, of course, this also but, in another way, it is essentially different: it is a source of life and light for our journey of faith.
Therefore, the Church calls us to have and to promote a genuine liturgical life, so there can be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates and what we experience in our life. It is about experiencing in life what we have received through faith and what we have celebrated here (Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).
Jesus’ disciple does not go to church only to observe a precept, to feel right with a God who must then not “disturb” him too much. “But I, Lord, go every Sunday, I fulfil …,but you don’t involve yourself in my life, don’t disturb me.” This is the attitude of so many Catholics, so many. Jesus’ disciple goes to church to encounter the Lord and to find in his grace, operating in the Sacraments, the strength to think and act according to the Gospel. So we cannot delude ourselves by going into the house of the Lord and “covering” with prayers and devotional practices behavior that is contrary to the exigencies of justice, of honesty and of charity to our neighbor. We cannot substitute with “religious tributes” what is owed to our neighbor, to postpone a true conversion. Worship, liturgical celebrations are the privileged realm to listen to the Lord’s voice, which guides us on the way of rectitude and Christian perfection.
It is about undertaking a journey of conversion and penance, to remove from our life the dross of sin, as Jesus did, cleansing the Temple of narrow interests. And Lent is the favorable time for all this; it is the time of interior renewal, of the remission of sins, the time in which we are called to rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, which makes us pass from the darkness of sin to the light of grace and friendship with Jesus. We must not forget the great strength that this Sacrament has for Christian life: it makes us grow in our union with God; it makes us reacquire lost joy and experience the consolation of feeling ourselves personally received in the merciful embrace of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, this church was built thanks to the apostolic zeal of Saint Luigi Orione. Fifty years ago, precisely here, Blessed Paul VI inaugurated, in a certain sense, the liturgical reform with the celebration of the Mass in the language spoken by the people. i hope this circumstance will revive in all of you love for the house of God. In it you find great spiritual help. Every time you so wish, you can experience here the regenerating power of personal and community prayer. Listening to the Word of God, proclaimed in the liturgical assembly, sustains you in the journey of your Christian life. Between these walls you meet not as strangers but as brothers, capable of gladly shaking hands, because you are united by the love of Christ, foundation of the hope and commitment of every believer.
In this Mass, we confidently clasp Him, Jesus Christ, the cornerstone, renewing our resolution to commit ourselves to purify and cleanse the interior of the Church, spiritual edifice, of which each one of us is a living part by dint of our Baptism. So be it.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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At the end of the Holy Mass, the Holy Father met with priests of the parish, entrusted since its foundation to the Orionini, the Director General of the Little Work of Divine Providence (Saint Luigi Orione), don Flavio Peloso, present with the General Councils of the Orionini and of the Daughters of Divine Providence, the religious community of the General Curia and representatives of the Orione Family from different parts of Italy.
Before leaving the parish of All Saints to return to the Vatican, Pope Francis greeted the faithful who were unable to find a place in the church and who followed the Eucharistic celebration on a large screen set up in the courtyard of the former Saint Philip Institute. These were the Pope’s words:
Thank you so much, thank you so much for your hospitality. It’s cold, no? And you here are courageous. You prayed at the Mass all together; this gives strength to the Church, prayer together, the Mass, to receive the Body of the Lord; He strengthens us, He makes us go forward in the midst of so many difficulties. There are difficulties everywhere, but the Lord is everywhere and where the Lord is, things go well, right?
Thank you so much, thank you so much for your hospitality, for the prayer with me in the Mass; and we thank the Lord for what He has done in the Church in these 50 years of liturgical reform. It was in fact a courageous gesture of the Church to draw close to the People of God, so that they could understand well what she does, and this is important for us, to follow the Mass in this way. And we cannot go back; we must always go forward, always forward and whoever goes back is mistaken. We go forward on this way.
Thanks to you, and I hope this parish will continue to be a model of liturgical celebration, only I would like … I would like the singing to be a bit louder! Are you afraid to sing? Because I only heard the choir, the people were somewhat
Good-bye and pray for me, pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]