Pope Francis concludes his catechesis on liturgical matters…
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and Happy Easter!
You see that today there are flowers: flowers that speak of joy and gladness. In some places, Easter is also called “flowering Easter,” because the Risen Christ flowers: he is the new flower; our justification flowers, the holiness of the Church flowers. Therefore, many flowers — it’s our joy. We celebrate Easter the whole week, the whole week. And therefore all of us say to one another once again the wish of a “Happy Easter.” We say together: “Happy Easter,” — all! [They answer: Happy Easter!] I would like us also to say Happy Easter — because he was Bishop of Rome — to our beloved Pope Benedict, who follows us on television. We all say Happy Easter to Pope Benedict [They say: “Happy Easter!”] and loud applause.
With this catechesis, we conclude today the series dedicated to the Mass, which is, in fact, the commemoration, but not only as memory, in which the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus are relived. The last time we arrived at Communion and the Prayer after Communion. After this Prayer, the Mass ends with the blessing imparted by the priest and the dismissal of the people (Cf. Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 90). As it began with the sign of the cross, in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, it’s again in the Name of the Trinity that the Mass is sealed, namely, the liturgical action.
However, we know well that while the Mass finishes, the commitment opens to Christian witness. Christians don’t go to Mass to carry out a weekly task and then forget, no. Christians go to Mass to take part in the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord and then to live more as Christians: the commitment of Christian witness opens. We leave the church to “go in peace” to bring God’s blessing to our daily activities, in our homes, in work environments, among the occupations of the earthly city, “glorifying the Lord with our life.” However, if we leave the church chatting and saying: “look at this,” Look at that… .,” talking too much, the Mass has not entered our heart. Why? — because we are unable to live the Christian witness. Every time I go out of the Mass, I must leave better than I entered, with more life, with more strength, with a greater desire to give Christian witness. Through the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus enters in us, in our heart and in our flesh, so that we can “express in life the Sacrament received in faith” (Messale Romano, Collect of Monday of the Octave of Easter).
From the celebration to life, therefore, aware that the Mass finds its fulfillment in the concrete choices of one who is personally involved in Christ’s mystery. We must not forget that we celebrate the Eucharist to learn to become Eucharistic men and women. What does this mean? It means to let Christ act in our works: that His thoughts be our thoughts, His sentiments ours, His choices our choices. And this is holiness: to do as Christ did is Christian holiness. Saint Paul expresses it with precision, speaking of his own assimilation to Jesus, and he says thus: “I have been crucified with Christ; 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). This is Christian witness. Paul’s experience illumines us also: in the measure in which we mortify our egoism, namely, that we die to what is opposed to the Gospel and to the love of Jesus, greater room is created in us by the power of His Spirit. Christians are men and women that let their soul be enlarged with the strength of the Holy Spirit, after having received the Body and Blood of Christ. Let your soul be enlarged! Not these narrow and closed, small and egoistic souls, no! Wide souls, great souls, with great horizons . . . Let your soul be enlarged with the strength of the Spirit, after having received the Body and Blood of Christ.
Because Christ’s real presence in the consecrated Bread doesn’t end with the Mass (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374), the Eucharist is kept in the Tabernacle for Communion <to be taken> to the sick and for silent adoration of the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament; Eucharistic worship outside of the Mass, be it in a private or communal way, helps us in fact to remain in Christ (Cf. Ibid., 1378–1380).
Therefore, the fruits of the Mass are destined to mature in everyday life. We can say so, forcing somewhat the image: the Mass is as the grain, the grain of wheat, which then grows in ordinary life, it grows and matures in good works, in attitudes that make us similar to Jesus. So the fruits of the Mass are destined to mature in everyday life. In truth, enhancing our union with Christ, the Eucharist updates the grace that the Spirit gave us in Baptism and in Confirmation so that our Christian witness is credible (Cf. Ibid., 1391–1392).
Again, by enkindling divine charity in our hearts, what does the Eucharist do? It separates us from sin. “The more we share the life of Christ and progress in His friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from Him by mortal sin” (Ibid., 1395). The regular approach to the Eucharistic Banquet renews, strengthens and deepens the bond with the Christian community to which we belong, according to the principle that the Eucharist makes the Church (Cf. Ibid., 1396), it unites us all.
Finally, to take part in the Eucharist commits us in our relations with others, especially the poor, educating us to pass from the flesh of Christ to the flesh of brethren, in which He waits to be recognized, served, honored and loved by us (Cf. Ibid., 1397). Bearing the treasure of union with Christ in earthen vessels (Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7) we have constant need to return to the holy altar until we enjoy fully in Paradise the beatitude of the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Cf. Revelation 19:9).
We thank the Lord for the journey of rediscovery of the Holy Mass, which He has given us to fulfill together, and we let ourselves be drawn with renewed faith to this real encounter with Jesus, dead and risen for us, our contemporary. And may our life always be “flowering,” as Easter, with the flowers of hope, of faith <and> of good works. May we always find the strength for this in the Eucharist, in union with Jesus. Happy Easter to all!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
Translation from the Italian by Virginia M. Forrester, © ZENIT, www.zenit.org