Pope Francis holds a weekly general audience at the Vatican each Wednesday, and for months he has been building upon the same topic during his address to the gathered crowds. “Since the beginning of the year, we have been listening to the Holy Father speak about the topic of hope. And every week he has spoken about hope from a different perspective and certainly helped to raise the fire of hope within our own hearts. And [this week], he announced that he will be changing his topic for the rest of the year and will be speaking about the Eucharist,” reported Ashley Noronha, Relevant Radio Vatican Correspondent.
Why will he be focusing so much time to speak about the Holy Eucharist? “We have to understand the Eucharist in order for us to understand the value and the meaning of the Mass, and with that, then we can more fully live out our relationship with God,” says Noronha.
“It’s through the Eucharist that we see Christ and we touch Him. [Pope Francis] brought up the Apostle Thomas, who needed to see and touch in order to recognize Christ. Through that, the sacraments meet what he called a very human need that we have, because this is how we can reach out and meet God and experience His love.”
In his weekly catechesis, the Holy Father spoke about seeing children enter the church and making the sign of the cross in a rather chaotic way. “Sort of moving their hand all over their chest, and he noted that it lacked reverence,” says Noronha. The Pope asked the faithful to take the time to teach children well about how to properly make the sign of the cross, noting that it’s with that sign of the cross that Mass begins.
He also spoke about how distracted people can be during the liturgy. “Focus is often taken away from the Eucharist … He reminded people that Mass is an opportunity for us to demonstrate reverence. He said that it’s not a time to chat with friends. It’s not a time to pull out your cell phone and take photographs. He specifically said, ‘when we say we lift up our hearts, we don’t say “we lift up our phones to take photos!”’”
“It saddens him how often he sees people chatting on the phone. And it’s interesting, because that is something I see here in Italy,” says Noronha. “When people’s phones ring, they don’t turn them off but instead they answer them in the pews or might run out of church and have a conversation. So it’s interesting that the Holy Father brought that up today and asked us all to really pay closer attention to how we can cultivate that greater sense of reverence in the Mass so that we can rediscover the beauty that is hidden in the Eucharistic celebration.”