The priest says, 'Lift up your hearts?' He doesn't say, 'Lift up your cell phones to take a photo!'
Pope Francis said that it makes him sad when he celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Square or in the Basilica and sees many cell phones being held up.
“The Holy Mass isn’t a show. It’s where we go to be present for the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus,” said Francis during the general audience, as he began a new series of catecheses on the Eucharist, having concluded his series on hope.
“The priest celebrates the Eucharist, and we aren’t close to the Lord. If the president of the republic were to come here today, or any very important world figure, we’d surely all be there close to him, wanting to greet him. But think! When you go to Mass, the Lord is there!”
“‘But, Father, Masses are boring!’ ‘What? Are you saying that the Lord is boring?’ ‘No, not the Mass—the priests.’ ‘Ah, so the priests should convert. But, the Lord is there (in the Eucharist)!’ Don’t forget it,” the pope exclaimed.
In order to appreciate Mass more and be less distracted, the Bishop of Rome suggested we ask ourselves some questions about the Mass. Why do we make the Sign of the Cross and the act of contrition at the beginning of the Mass? And why do we hear certain readings at Mass—three on Sunday and two on other days? Why do we read specific readings on a given day, and how are they related?
Cell phones at Mass
Then, he surprised everyone by asking, “Why, at a certain point, does the priest presiding at the celebration say, ‘Lift up your hearts?’ He doesn’t say, ‘Lift up your cell phones to take a photo!’ No, that’s very inappropriate!”
“It makes me very sad,” he continued, “when I celebrate Mass in Saint Peter’s Square or in the Basilica, and I see so many cell phones raised up, not just by lay people, but also by some priests, even bishops. Please!” he said forcefully.
Those present applauded when they heard the pope’s reprimand toward those who do not respect the culminating act of the Catholic faith, and who distract themselves and others during Mass by taking selfies, photos and videos with their cell phones.
In order to live our relationship with God fully, “for us Christians, it’s fundamental to understand well the value and meaning of the Holy Mass,” he said.
The pope explained that the goal of his catecheses will be a “better understanding” of the importance of the Eucharist and of “how God’s love is reflected in this mystery of faith.”
The meaning of the Mass
The pope started this catechesis series by citing the example of a group of fourth-century North African martyrs, and that of innumerable other Christians who have sacrificed their lives for love of the Eucharist. The reason for their sacrifice, he explained, is found in the words of Jesus: “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life within you” (John 6:53).
“Are we seeking that fountain from which ‘living waters spring’ for eternal life, which makes our life a spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving?” the pope asked.
“This is the deepest sense of the Holy Eucharist, which means ‘thanksgiving’: giving thanks to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who envelops us and transforms us in his communion of love.”
Pope Francis recalled the Second Vatican Council which, 50 years ago, carried out a renewal of the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Council emphasized the importance of “the liturgical formation of the faithful, which is indispensable for true renewal”—a renewal considered essential because “the Church continually lives from [the liturgy] and is renewed thanks to it.”
Consequently, he said, the goal of the new series of catechesis will be “to grow in our knowledge of the great gift that God has given us in the Eucharist” in which Christ is present and in which we participate in his redemptive Passion and Death.
“Let us ask the Virgin Mary to intercede for us, so we may feel the desire to know and love the mystery of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the Body and Blood of her Son Jesus,” said the pope, as he greeted the Spanish-speaking pilgrims.
The general audience concluded with the singing of the Our Father, and the apostolic blessing.