Pope Francis keeps repeating that fears, doubts, lack of boldness… all can radically keep us from pushing the renovation that the Church needs today. In his Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel he even says that if we stay paralyzed by fear, we can once more end up simply being «spectators of a sterile stagnancy in our Church».
His words are worth thinking about. What do we see happening among us? Are we being mobilized to revive the faith of our Christian communities, or do we keep marking time within that “sterile stagnancy” that Francis talks about? Where can we find energy to act?
One of the Vatican Council’s great achievements was to push us forward in regards to the «Mass»: till then understood as an individual obligation to fulfill a sacred law, towards the «Eucharist» lived out as a joyful celebration of the whole community that nourishes our faith, helps us grow in solidarity, and awakens our hope in the Risen Jesus Christ.
Without doubt, throughout these years, we have moved forward in important ways. We are far from those masses celebrated in Latin, in which the priests «says» Mass and the Christian people come to «hear» Mass or «assist» at the celebrations. But aren’t we still celebrating the Eucharist in a routine and boring manner?
It’s an undeniable fact. People are abandoning the Sunday practice at an unstoppable rate because they don’t find in our celebrations the atmosphere, the clear word, the expressive ritual, the stimulating welcome that they need to nourish their weak and failing faith.
Without doubt, all of us, pastors and laity alike, need to ask ourselves what are we doing so that the Eucharist would be, as the Council wishes, «the center and the culmination of the Christian community’s whole life». How can the hierarchy stay silent and unmoved? Why don’t we believers more forcefully show our concern and our sadness?
The problem is serious. Do we have to stay «stagnant» in our way of celebrating the Eucharist, so unattractive to men and women today? Is this liturgy that we have kept repeating for centuries, the best one that can help us to bring to reality that memorable supper of Jesus where we so admirably concentrate the nucleus of our faith?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf