Pope Francis on our having lost the “sense of worship”. Fr. Z rants and suggests.

From Vatican Insider:

“A Temple is a place where we gather to worship God, not celebrate a rite”

At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House the Pope said Christians have lost sight of the meaning of worship: “We go to the Temple and come together as brothers and that’s wonderful! But God is at the centre” [And when the tabernacle is in the center, that’s more obvious.]

A stone house which houses the soul of a people who worship God, but also a human body through which the Lord speaks and the heart listens. In this morning’s mass at St. Martha’s House Pope Francis spoke about the concept of a “sacred Temple”, based on these two parallel dimensions of Christian life.

The Pope said the Temple is a sacred place where what matters the most are not rituals but “worshipping the Lord”. [Just watch.  Liberals will now trumpet that Pope Francis is against ritual, that the Pope says that the rubrics aren’t important, that we should be constrained by man-made rites.  But that is not what the Pope said.  Moreover… we don’t get everything that the Pope says in these daily fervorini, do we? We get little bit and pieces, chopped up, mixed around.] Francis emphasised that as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, human beings are called to listen to the voice of God within them, ask him for forgiveness and follow him.

Today Francis commented on the passage in the Old Testament, where Judas Maccabeus re-consecrates the Temple destroyed by the war. He presented the Temple “as a place of reference for the community, a place of reference for the people of God “, where we go for many reasons one of which surpasses all others.”The Temple is the place where the community comes to pray, to praise the Lord, to give thanks, but above all to worship: we worship the Lord in the Temple. And this is the most important point.”  [And how do we do that? Sacred liturgy.]

This is also valid for liturgical ceremonies: what is most important in this liturgical ceremony? Chants, rituals – they are all beautiful… but the most important thing is worship.[Who can object to that?  Of course true worship is more important than just going through the motions.  Our inward participation is what the outward signs must promote.]

“But I think – I say this humbly – that we Christians may have somewhat lost the ‘sense of worship , [Who will not agree?] and we think:  lets go to the Temple, lets come together as brothers and sisters – that’s good , it’s great ! – but the centre is where God is. And we worship God.” [Okay… I am not sure what that meant. Maybe he will explain.]

The Pope then asked a couple of questions: “are our Temples places of worship, do they favour adoration? Do our celebrations foster adoration?” Jesus chases out those who try to do “business” in the Temple, who had taken the place of the Temple to do trade rather than worship. [This is a good question.  However, note the language used.  Do our “celebrations” foster adoration? Do celebrations foster adoration? I’m not sure about that.  Of course everyone uses “celebration” today for every liturgical rite.  It might be good to consider fostering adoration, true worship, also through stillness and silence, self-humbling acts of kneeling more, through physical reception of the Eucharist we adore without a gesture that looks like “gimme one”.  Perhaps we can foster adoration by the fostering decorum and dignity and a sense that what we are up to in church is special, different, removed from the mundane.]

“But there is another “Temple” and another to be considered sacred in the life of faith.”St. Paul tells us that we are Temples of the Holy Spirit. I am a Temple. The Spirit of God is in me. He also tells us: ‘ Grieve not the Spirit of God is within you!’ [By committing mortal sins.] And even here, perhaps we can not speak of worship as before, but a kind of worship that is the heart that seeks God’s Spirit within and knows that God is within, that the Holy Spirit is inside. That listens to him and follows him.”

“Following God presupposes a continuous purification,” Francis highlighted, “because we are sinners”: “we purify ourselves by prayer, penance, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist.[The last two in that list are liturgical rites.]

“These two Temples – the material Temple, the place of worship, [Which is a sacred space that received a special consecration.] and the spiritual Temple inside me, where the Holy Spirit dwells – in these two Temples, our attitude should be that of piety, of loving and listening , praying and asking for forgiveness, praising the Lord,” Francis continued.  [Nothing in this say that we shouldn’t Say The Black and Do the Red.]

“And when you speak of the joy of the Temple, we talk about this: the entire congregation in worship, in prayer, in thanksgiving, in praise. [We can do that together because we follow the rites as they are in the books!] Me in prayer with the Lord, that is within me because I’m a ‘Temple’.  Listening, being open. May the Lord grant us this true sense of the Temple, to be able to move forward in our life of worship and listening to the Word of God.”

What Pope Francis is saying here is a great argument for implementing far and wide the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Pope Francis is asking good questions.  We are losing a sense of adoration in our worship?  I think so.  We need to learn again from widespread “celebrations” of Holy Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum.

One of the thing that I found is that when priests learn the older form of Holy Mass, it changes the way they say the Novus Ordo.  This in turn is noticed by people.  The way a priest says Mass has a knock-on effect for the congregation.  They see how the priest says Mass.

I have also heard from many lay people is that when they start participating at Masses in the older form, their perception of Mass changes.  The way they pray during Mass, according to them, starts to come around to the kind of prayer and adoration and worship that Pope Francis is talking about in his little sermon.

So, if we want to take Pope Francis’ words to heart, and I think that, as Catholics, we do, then we must press forward with Summorum Pontificum with greater urgency.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Francis, GO TO CONFESSION, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. CharlesG says:

    I agree that the Pope’s words are not really anti-ritual, but emphasize the purpose behind the ritual. And I would not only agree that the Pope’s emphasis on the worship of God in the liturgy not only supports Summorum Pontificum, but also following the GIRM and “saying the black, doing the red” generally. This is the way that more reverence, beauty, tradition and “verticality” can be restored to the liturgy, so that the focus is God and not the community worshipping itself in an enclosed circle, as the Pope Emeritus said. Also, it supports the “mutual enrichment” of the Vetus Ordo on the Novus Ordo (and to a lesser extent the other way, in terms of allowing a bit more active participation on the part of the congregation to assist with their uniting themselves with the clergy in the worship of God).

  2. Lin says:

    I realize the importance of a reverent Mass now that I don’t have one in my own parish. And Eucharistic adoration was given the boot, too!

  3. It’s all in The Spirit of the Liturgy, all in The Spirit of the Liturgy. Bless me, what are they teaching these young people these days?

    [lights pipe, snuffles to self in amused fashion]

  4. Fr Jackson says:

    Father – don’t try so hard to defend the Pope’s words. He’s just not quite saying what you would like him to say, and no amount of red comment is going to change that.

    [You are wrong twice. I am not trying hard at all to defend the Pope’s words. And, he is, in fact, saying exactly what I would like him to say.]

  5. donato2 says:

    “This is also valid for liturgical ceremonies: what is most important in this liturgical ceremony? Chants, rituals – they are all beautiful… but the most important thing is worship.”

    This seems to put ritual and chant in opposition to worship when, at least for me, nothing aids worship more than ritual (properly done) and chant. That is precisely my objection to all the banal hymns that are sung in most parishes today. It is not just that they are banal but also that they induce neither prayer nor worship.

    Maybe though Pope Francis is not putting chant and ritual in opposition to adoration. He may be saying that it is important to understand that adoration underlies the purpose of ritual and chant. It’s unclear form his words exactly what he means. (As we all know, this is a common frustration with his statements.)

  6. Marchelli says:

    “But I think – I say this humbly – that we Christians may have somewhat lost the ‘sense of worship , [Who will not agree?] and we think: lets go to the Temple, lets come together as brothers and sisters – that’s good , it’s great ! – but the centre is where God is. And we worship God.” [Okay… I am not sure what that meant. Maybe he will explain.]

    I think what the Holy Father is trying to get at here is that people think the main purpose of coming to church for the liturgy is to be a christian community. However, the Holy Father is pointing out that although it is good to have community coming together as brothers and sisters at Church, Christian Community is not the purpose of the sacred liturgy. The purpose and center of the liturgy is God and the worship (adoration) of God and that is the sole purpose of the liturgy. Everything else is a secondary consequence to this. Again this is just my interpretation of the passage.

Comments are closed.