By Andrea Tornielli
Pope Francis’s morning Mass on Monday, 18 May, will be the last in a series that has daily accompanied millions of people around the world for more than two months.
Public Masses in Italy are being allowed to resume that same day. On that occasion, the Pope has decided to interrupt the live broadcast of his morning Mass.
The last Mass will be a special one, because 18 May also marks the 100th anniversary of Karol Wojtyla’s birth. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the altar over the tomb of his predecessor.
Pope St. John Paul II was born in 1920, elected Bishop of Rome in 1978, died in 2005, and canonized in 2014.
Final live-streamed Mass
The live video, radio and streaming transmission of the celebration of morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta during this period of quarantine was an unexpected and beautiful gift.
Many people – even those far away from the Church – felt accompanied and supported by the Pope, who quietly knocked on the doors of their homes at the beginning of each day.
Many discovered the importance and comfort of the daily encounter with the Gospel. Many had never before followed the weekday liturgy on TV, one proposed without commentary and with a few minutes of silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
The beauty and simplicity of the Pope’s off-the-cuff homilies allowed us all to enter the pages of the Gospel, as if we were present when those events took place. During the emergency that has confined us within the walls of our homes, the importance of the Pope's daily teaching was confirmed, and made even more decisive in these moments filled with uncertainty, suffering, anguish, and many questions about the future.
Papal magisterium and service
The homilies given at Santa Marta represent a significant aspect of Pope Francis’s service as Bishop of Rome. Many people were already accustomed to following them through the summaries offered by Vatican Media and the volumes of the Vatican Publishing House, which collects them in an annual edition.
Over the last two months, however, the experience has been different, because the live broadcast has offered the possibility of participating – albeit at a distance – in these daily celebrations, watching the Pope as he preached and reflected on the Scriptures.
Several million people have come into contact with these Masses every day. Many have written to give thanks. Now, as celebrations in Italian churches resume with a congregation, a new phase begins.
People around the world – one can be sure – will miss this daily appointment. But, as Pope Francis himself once said, we need to return to communal familiarity with the Lord that can be found in the Sacraments, as we participate personally in the liturgy.
And let us not forget another of Pope Francis’s invitations: that we “visit” the pages of the Gospel every day, with the same fervour and closeness with which we have grown accustomed in the televised Masses from the Casa Santa Marta.
Click here to download “Strong in the Face of Tribulation”: the digital volume of the LEV which collects most of the homilies preached by the Pope at Santa Marta during this time of crisis.