Pope Francis explains "Genuine liturgical life, especially the Eucharist, pushes us always to charity, which is above all..." FULL TEXT


Consistory Hall
Saturday, 7 May 2022


Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!

Thank you, Father Abbot Primate, for your introduction. Italian has improved! That is fine. I greet the Father Rector, the Father Dean, the Professors, and all of you, dear students and former students of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its foundation. It came as a response to the growing need of the People of God to live and participate more intensely in the liturgical life of the Church; a requirement that found illuminating verification in the Second Vatican Council with the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium . By now, your institution's dedication to the study of the liturgy is well recognized. Experts trained in your halls promote the liturgical life of many dioceses, in very different cultural contexts.

Three dimensions clearly emerge from the conciliar drive for the renewal of liturgical life. The first is active and fruitful participation in the liturgy; the second is ecclesial communion animated by the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments of the Church; and the third is the impulse to the evangelizing mission starting from the liturgical life which involves all the baptized. The Pontifical Liturgical Institute is at the service of this triple need.

First of all, formation to live and promote active participation in the liturgical life . The in-depth and scientific study of the Liturgy must encourage you to favor, as the Council wished, this fundamental dimension of Christian life. The key here is to educate people to get into the spirit of the liturgy . And to know how to do it, it is necessary to be impregnated with this spirit. I would like to say that this should happen to Sant'Anselmo: to become imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, to feel its mystery, with ever new amazement. The liturgy is not possessed, no, it is not a profession: the liturgy is learned, the liturgy is celebrated. Getting to this attitude of celebrating the liturgy. And one participates actively only to the extent that one enters this spirit of celebration. It is not a question of rites, it is the mystery of Christ, who once and for all revealed and fulfilled the sacred, the sacrifice and the priesthood. Worship in spirit and truth. All this, in your Institute, must be meditated upon, assimilated, I would say "breathed". At the school of the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Tradition, the Saints. Only in this way can participation be translated into a greater sense of the Church, which makes us live evangelically in every time and in every circumstance. And this attitude of celebrating also suffers temptations. On this I would like to underline the danger, the temptation of liturgical formalism: to go after forms, formalities rather than reality, as we see today in those movements that try to go back a little and deny the Second Vatican Council. Then the celebration is recitation, it is a thing without life, without joy.

Your dedication to liturgical study, on the part of both professors and students, also makes you grow in ecclesial communion . The liturgical life, in fact, opens us to the other, to the closest and most distant from the Church, in the common belonging to Christ. Giving glory to God in the liturgy finds its confirmation in love for one's neighbor, in the commitment to live as brothers in everyday situations, in the community in which I find myself, with its strengths and his limitations. This is the path of true sanctification. Therefore, the formation of the People of God is a fundamental task for living a fully ecclesial liturgical life.

And the third aspect. Every liturgical celebration always ends with the mission . What we live and celebrate leads us to go out to meet others, to meet the world around us, to meet the joys and needs of many who perhaps live without knowing the gift of God. Genuine liturgical life, especially the Eucharist, pushes us always to charity, which is above all openness and attention to the other. This attitude always begins and is founded in prayer, especially in liturgical prayer. And this dimension also opens us to dialogue, to encounter, to the ecumenical spirit, to welcome.

I dwelt briefly on these three fundamental dimensions. I emphasize again that the liturgical life, and the study of it, must lead to greater ecclesial unity, not to division. When liturgical life is a bit of a banner of division, there is the smell of the devil in there, the deceiver. It is not possible to worship God and at the same time to make the liturgy a battlefield for questions that are not essential, indeed, for outdated questions and to take a stand, starting from the liturgy, with ideologies that divide the Church. The Gospel and the Church's Tradition call us to be firmly united on the essential, and to share legitimate differences in the harmony of the Spirit. Therefore the Council wished to prepare abundantly the table of the Word of God and of the Eucharist, to make possible the presence of God in the midst of his people. Thus the Church, through liturgical prayer, prolongs the work of Christ in the midst of men and women of all times, and also in the midst of creation, dispensing the grace of his sacramental presence. The liturgy must be studied while remaining faithful to this mystery of the Church.

It is true that every reform creates resistance. I remember, I was a boy, when Pius XII began with the first liturgical reform, the first: you can drink water before communion, fast for an hour ... "But this is against the holiness of the Eucharist!" dress up. Then, the evening Mass: “But, why, the Mass is in the morning!”. Then, the reform of the Easter Triduum: "But how, the Lord must rise again on Saturday, now they send him back to Sunday, Saturday evening, Sunday does not ring the bells ... And where do the twelve prophecies go?". All these things scandalized closed minds. It also happens today. Indeed, these closed mindsets use liturgical schemes to defend their point of view. Using the liturgy: this is the drama we are experiencing in ecclesial groups that move away from the Church, they question the Council, the authority of the bishops…, in order to preserve the tradition. And the liturgy is used for this.

The challenges of our world and of the present moment are very strong. Today, as always, the Church needs to live by the liturgy. The Council Fathers did a great job to make it so. We must continue this task of forming the liturgy in order to be formed by the liturgy. The Holy Virgin Mary together with the Apostles prayed, broke the Bread and lived charity with everyone. Through their intercession, the liturgy of the Church makes this model of Christian life present today and always.

I thank you for the service you render to the Church and I encourage you to carry it forward in the joy of the Spirit. I bless you from my heart. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thanks.