Sunday mass should be the culmination of all church activity

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After pandemic lockdowns in many parts of the world led to the suspension of Catholic liturgies, Sunday mass must be affirmed as the source and highlight of community life, said the Vatican Secretary of State in a message sent on behalf of the Pope.

August 28, 2021

Pope Francis celebrates Sunday mass in the Vatican. (Vatican media)


By Courtney Mares

After pandemic lockdowns in many parts of the world led to the suspension of Catholic liturgies, Sunday mass must be affirmed as the source and highlight of community life, said the Vatican Secretary of State in a message sent on behalf of the Pope.

“The suspension of the liturgies during the long period of closure and the difficulties in the subsequent recovery confirmed what was already observed at Sunday assemblies on the Italian peninsula: the alarming sign … of the change of epochs,” wrote Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a message on 23 August for Italy’s National Liturgy Week.

The cardinal said attending Sunday masses in Italy was unbalanced in terms of the generations and cultures represented.

He said that the congregations are struggling to restore Mass “as the true culmination of all their activities and as a source of missionary dynamism to push the Gospel of Mercy to its geographical and existential limits”. “The Holy Father hopes that the National Liturgical Week, with its proposals for reflection and celebrations … can step out of the marginality that it seems inexorably to counteract and regain its central position in the faith and spirituality of the faithful,” he said.

All public liturgies were suspended for ten weeks in Italy in 2020 as the country faced the highest death rates from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sad experience of liturgical ‘fasting’ last year has shown how good the long road has been which has been covered since the Second Vatican Council on the path laid out by the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium,” explained Cardinal Parolin.

“The time of privation has made it possible ‘to recognize the importance of the divine liturgy for the life of Christians, who find in it that objective mediation which requires the fact that Jesus Christ is not an idea or a feeling but a living person , and its mystery a historical event. Christian prayer goes through tangible mediations: Scripture, the sacraments, liturgical rites, communion. ‘”

The 71st National Liturgical Week took place August 23-26 after being postponed last year due to the pandemic. Cremona is in Lombardy, the region in Italy hardest hit by COVID-19.

“The weekly gathering in the ‘Name of the Lord’, perceived by Christians from the beginning as indispensable and inseparable from their identity, was severely affected in the most acute phase of the spread of the pandemic,” said Cardinal Parolin called.

“But love of the Lord and pastoral creativity have led pastors and believers to explore other avenues to nourish the fellowship of faith and love with the Lord and with their brothers and sisters as they await the abundance of To be able to return to the Eucharist in peace and security. ”

“It was a difficult and painful waiting, illuminated by the mystery of the Lord’s Cross, and fruitful in many works of care, brotherly love and service for those who suffered most from the consequences of the health crisis”, he said. CNA

See below for more about the Pope’s message

The liturgy must return to the center of the Christian faith

VATICAN: In his message to the attendees of the Italian liturgical conference, Pope Francis said that last year’s COVID-19 lockdown can help the Church rediscover the meaning of the Sunday Eucharistic Assembly.

The Holy Father thanked God that the conference could take place in person this year, “after last year’s discouraging moment” caused by the pandemic.

“However, the painful decision to postpone the event,” said the Pope, “has confirmed the chosen theme, which seeks to deepen reflection on various aspects of ‘celebrating’, in a new light brought about by the spread of COVID the test has been made. 19 and the restrictions necessary to contain it. ”

The theme of the conference to which the Pope was referring is: Where two or three are gathered in my name: communion, liturgies and territories.

He noted that Christians have always come together weekly in the name of Jesus, which is closely related to the identity of the Church.

However, he complained that the weekly trade fairs were “severely restricted during the most acute phase of the pandemic”.

“Nevertheless, love for the Lord and pastoral creativity have led pastoralists and believers to try new ways of nourishing the communion of faith and love with the Lord and our brothers and sisters in anticipation of the fullness of the Eucharist to return in security and tranquility. ”

Pope Francis said last year’s “liturgical fast” was painful but also enlightened by the mystery of the Cross of Christ and made fruitful through many “works of charity, brotherly love and service to those who have suffered most” been.

The decision not to attend mass caused the Church to reflect on the importance of the liturgy in the life of Christians, because “we must also pray with the body”.

The closure of churches has also highlighted an already underway trend on the Italian peninsula that has led to a decline in trade fair visits for certain age groups.

“We observe that people’s perception of time and of Sunday itself has changed, with consequences for the way of life and the feeling of being part of a community, people and family,” he said. “The Sunday assembly is therefore unbalanced in terms of generational and cultural presence.”

The Pope then expressed his hope that the liturgical conference could ignite new ideas and pastoral guidelines for parishes across Italy. “May Sunday, the Eucharistic gathering, the services and the rite emerge from the marginalization towards which they are inexorably inclined, while at the same time discovering the centrality of the faith and the spirituality of the believer,” he prayed. Pope Francis concluded his message by assuring the audience of his prayers for the Church in Italy that wants Christ to be at the center of its liturgical life. Vatican News


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