By Christopher Wells
“If the soul is always joyful, it is a good day.” The weather was “a little ugly,” as Pope Francis said Wednesday, but the Holy Father found a way to brighten everyone’s spirit at the weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square.
Meeting with the sick
The Pope began his audience with a small group of sick people gathered in the Paul VI Hall. He then ventured out into the wind and rain, where he delivered his catechesis to a small crowd of pilgrims who braved the inclement Roman winter weather.
The right to hear the Word of God
The teaching at Wednesday’s General Audience was focused once again on the Mass, as Pope Francis reflected on the end of the Liturgy of the Word. Hearing the Word of God, with the explanation in the homily that follows, is a right, “the spiritual right of the people of God to receive the treasure of the Word of God in abundance.” Everyone who goes to Mass, the Pope said, “has the right to receive abundantly the Word of God, read well, proclaimed well, and then explained well in the homily. It’s a right!”
After the homily, the Pope spoke about the moment of silence, which gives people time to reflect on what they have heard.
The Creed and the Universal Prayer
Pope Francis then spoke about the communal recitation of the Creed at the Mass, which “manifests the common response to what was heard by the community in the Word of God. He emphasized the “vital connection” between hearing and faith, recalling the words of Saint Paul, that “faith comes from hearing.” Faith then leads to the Sacrament, so that the Creed becomes a link between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
After the Creed, the Mass continues with the Prayer of the Faithful, or the Universal Prayer – so called, the Pope said, because it embraces all of the needs of the Church and of the world. The Prayer of the Faithful, he said, echoing the General Instruction of the Missal, is an exercise of their baptismal priesthood by the People of God.
Reflecting on the words of Jesus – “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” – Pope Francis said we don’t believe this, “because we have little faith.” He encouraged us to have great faith when we pray together during the Mass. “The intention for which the faithful are invited to pray should give voice to the concrete needs of the ecclesial community and of the world, avoiding having recourse to conventional and short-sighted formulas,” he said. “The Universal Prayer, which concludes the Liturgy of the Word, exhorts us to make our own the loving gaze of God, who cares for all His children.”