ROME – Faithful going to Mass have a right to a well-read, well-spoken and well-explained homily, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
“When the Word of God is not well written and preached with fervor by the bishop or deacon, Massgoers are deprived of their rights,” he said in an off-the-cuff remark.
More than 10,000 people from all over the world gathered to see the pope in St. Peter’s Square on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, despite the heavy rain.
“The day is a little rainy, but if the soul is joyful it’s always a good morning!” the pope said.
Given the weather conditions, Francis met with the sick and disabled beforehand, who then watched the audience from inside the Paul VI hall at the Vatican.
Francis has been dedicating his recent audiences to explaining the elements of the Mass. This week he turned to the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer of all the Christian faithful.
“The Lord speaks for everyone, Pastors and faithful. He knocks on the heart. And changes hearts,” the pope said. “He consoles, calls and arouses buds of a new and reconciled life.”
For this reason, he said, the homily needs to be followed by a moment of silence, so that the seed of the Gospel can settle in the spirit of those who listen. Only after this silence, he said, are faithful called to profess their faith with the Apostles’ Creed.
“There is a vital connection between listening and faith. They are united. This faith is not born from the fantasies of human minds but, as St. Paul reminds us, ‘it comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ’,” Francis said.
The Creed, which bridges the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, is an essential part of the liturgy. “It reminds us that the Sacraments are understandable in light of the faith of the Church: they are ‘symbols’ of the faith, which presuppose and awaken it.”
What follows is the Prayer of the Faithful, the pope explained, which addresses the needs of the Church and the world and brings them before God.
“The intentions that faithful are invited to pray for must address the concrete needs of the ecclesiastical community and the word, and avoid using blind and conventional formulas,” the pope said.
Francis encouraged Catholics to ask God to help them grow in their faith, and added that “everything is possible to those who believe.”
The pope concluded the audience by chanting the Our Father and blessed the assembly. He also wished faithful “a Happy Lent” as they await the Easter celebration.