On Wednesday Pope Francis again offered some reflections and tips for the Liturgy of the Word, saying faithful who attend Mass lack a fundamental “right” if they do not receive a well-prepared and well-preached homily.
In the Liturgy of the Word, the Lord speaks for both pastors and faithful, and he “knocks on the door of those who participate in Mass, each one in their condition of life, age and situation,” the Pope said Feb. 14.
Because of this, after the readings are done, people in the pews are entitled to a “well-written, well-preached” homily, he said, explaining that “when the Word of God is not well-read or preached by the priest, deacon or bishop, the faithful lack a right. We have the right to hear the word of God.”
Pope Francis spoke to some 10,000 pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square during his weekly general audience address on Ash Wednesday, continuing his catechesis on the Mass.
Though the weather was dreary, Francis told attendees that “if the spirit has joy, it's always a good day.”
He focused his reflections for the day on the Creed and the Prayers of the Faithful, saying that after the brief moment of silence after the homily is finished, “our personal response of faith is included into the profession of faith.”
“There is a vital link between listening and faith, they are united,” he said, adding that faith isn't the result of a “fantasy of human minds,” but rather comes from “listening, and listening involves the Word of Christ.”
When we recite the Creed, then, it allows the entire congregation to both meditate on and profess “the great mysteries of faith, before their celebration of the Eucharist.”
Francis said that our response to the Word of God is also seen during the Universal Prayer and the Prayers of the Faithful, during which we pray for the needs of both the Church and the world.
He noted how during the Second Vatican Council, the prelates who participated wanted these prayers to take place after the Gospel and the homily, especially on Sunday and feasts, “so that with the participation of the people, they prayed for the Holy Church, for those who govern us, for those who are found in various necessities, for all men and for the salvation of the world.”
Turning to Scripture, he noted how in the Gospels Jesus said that “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask what you want and it will be done.”
Many times “we don't believe this, because we have little faith,” he said. But if we have faith “the size of a mustard seed,” as Jesus said, “we will receive everything.”
When the congregation unites in offering their prayers to God, this is also a time for the faithful to express their own personal desires to God, he said, adding that “it is the strongest time in the liturgy to ask the Lord for what we want, what we desire.”
“It will be done, in one way or another, but it will be done,” he said. And if someone is struggling with faith, he urged them to pray the same prayer as the man in the Gospel who had asked Jesus to heal his child, saying “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”
Francis also encouraged priests not to be afraid to be spontaneous with the prayers of the faithful, since they focus on the concrete needs of their community and of the world, and to avoid the use “of conventional and short-sighted formulas.”