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The Mass is not a show, but a beautiful, transformative encounter with the true loving presence of Christ, Pope Francis said.

That is why people need to focus their hearts on God, not focus their smartphones for pictures during Mass, he said.

When the priest celebrating Mass says, "Let us lift up our hearts," he is not saying, "lift up our cellphones and take a picture. No. It's an awful thing" to do, the pope said Nov. 8 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"It makes me so sad when I celebrate (Mass) in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cellphones in the air. And not just by the lay faithful, some priests and bishops, too," he said.

"Please, Mass is not a show. It is going to encounter the Passion, the resurrection of the Lord," he said to applause.

The pope's remarks were part of a new series of audience talks on the Mass. The series, he said, should help people understand the true value and significance of the liturgy as an essential part of growing closer to God.

A major theme highlighted by the Second Vatican Council was that the liturgical formation of the lay faithful is "indispensable for a true renewal," Pope Francis said. "And this is precisely the aim of this catechetical series that we begin today -- to grow in understanding the great gift God gave us in the Eucharist."

"The Second Vatican Council was strongly driven by the desire to lead Christians to an understanding of the grandeur of the faith and the beauty of the encounter with Christ," he said. That is why, "with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an appropriate renewal of the liturgy" was necessary.

When the priest celebrating Mass says, ‘Let us lift up our hearts,’ he is not saying, ‘lift up our cellphones and take a picture.’

The Eucharist is a wonderful way Jesus Christ makes himself truly present in people's lives, the pope said.

To take part in the Mass is to relive the Lord's passion and redemptive death, where, on the altar, he is present and offers himself for the salvation of the world, Pope Francis said.

"The Lord is there with us and present," he said. "But so many times we go, we look around, we chitchat with each other while the priest celebrates the Eucharist."

If the president or any other famous or important person were to show up, he said, it would be a given "that we all would be near him, we would want to greet him. But think about it, when you go to Mass, the Lord is there and you, you are distracted, (your mind) wanders. Yet, it is the Lord!"

People should reflect on this, he said, and if they complain, "'Oh father, Mass is boring.' What are you saying? The Lord is boring? 'No, not the Mass, but the priest.' Ah, well, may the priest be converted," but just never forget that the Lord is always there.

Catholics need to learn or rediscover many of the basics about the Mass and how the sacraments allow people to "see and touch" Christ's body and wounds so as to be able to recognize him, just as the apostle St. Thomas did.

He said the series would include answering the following questions:

  • Why make the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass? Why is it important to teach children how to make the sign of the cross properly and what does it mean?
  • What are the Mass readings for and why are they included in the Mass?
  • What does is mean for people to participate in the Lord's sacrifice and come to his table?
  • What are people seeking? Is it the overflowing fount of living water for eternal life?
  • Do people understand the importance of praise and thanksgiving with the Eucharist and that receiving it "makes us one body in Christ"?


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Kester Ratcliff
6 years 1 month ago

I understand pope Francis' point and I wouldn't interrupt the anaphora to get my phone out, but part of the reason I bring my phone is so I can read the readings for the day in English when I'm at a Mass in Dutch.

JR Cosgrove
6 years 1 month ago

I carry an IPhone most of the time but nearly always silence it for Mass unless I forget.

But I occasionally use it during Mass to remember poignant points the priest makes during a homily by taking some notes.

And who reading this article would not take a photo of the Pope saying Mass?

I was in one the main pilgrimage sites of the Catholic world a couple weeks ago, Santiago de Compostela. They asked all to put their camera/phones away before Mass. They had people in the aisles enforcing this during Mass. But when the swinging thurible was lifted over the altar at the end of Mass all the cell phones came out to take pictures. It is the largest thurible in the world.

I also second the use of a cell phone for the readings. My wife and I subscribed to the Magnificat on line recently.

Adeolu Ademoyo
6 years 1 month ago

Pope Francis is correct. The Liturgy is the work of God by the people. It is also the work of the people for God. Mass is our preparation for heaven. Therefore, the liturgical rites deserve the quiet, depth, peace, sobriety, and solemnity that allow the people of God to be in communion and in unity with God when HIS word is being proclaimed from HIS altar. The Catholic Church, Christ Church must constantly embrace the foundations of Christ Church. This is what will prevent Christ Church, the Catholic Church from falling into the traps and trappings we see that other Churches are falling into today in everything-especially the "entrepreneur" and "prosperity" churches! We must not imitate the world, the flesh and body, we must act so that the world imitates Christ. In this regard, we must be wary, we must not turn our Church, Christ Church, the Catholic Church to the "prosperity" and "entrepreneur" churches which may be lacking in rites, the spirituality, the religious encounter during Mass that enable that total union of Christ people with Christ and HIS Church. Though those who prefer to read the readings of the day either from their phones or from the Missal, (while the word of God is being proclaimed) have the right to do so. But ordinarily, because the Mass is the preparation of the people of God for heaven when we will meet Christ our savior, the following ought to be the case (i) we ought to have read the readings before coming to Mass, (ii) we ought to LISTEN, LOOK straight at the lectors and the Deacon/ priest (when there is no deacon in the Mass to proclaim the Gospel) and be in a state of prayer and humility to God (which ever way we choose while standing) when the word of God is being proclaimed. Please this is not a law or dogma. And please see it as an observation. So, what I am referencing here is a liturgical practice and things could vary, and they do vary from person to person. And more importantly we are in a "modern" (or is it post modern!) world where relativism holds sway. But then we must ask ourselves a rhetorical question: relativism with respect to rites we engage in, in our preparation to meet Christ in heaven? Perhaps it is one relativism that needs re-thinking! So a practice that is worthy of consideration may be to first read the readings at home (thereby connecting the domestic church with the larger Body of Christ even before the encounter during Mass) before attending Mass and then listen with humility, sobriety and solemnity to HIS word as HIS servants proclaim it from HIS altar. This way the phones as modern gadgets will not stand in our way when we focus on the word of God as it is being proclaimed!

Matt Wilson
6 years 1 month ago

I don't think that the Holy Father would ask the faithful to leave their daily missal at home, and that is the purpose that my smart phone serves. I only do so at daily mass, but I would not be able to make out much of the readings without it, as some of the readers and officiants are extremely difficult to understand. It's not the phone, in my view, it's what you do (or don't do) with it.

Adeolu Ademoyo
6 years ago

You are right that the Holy Father would not ask the faithful to leave their Daily Missal at home. But it seems that point is different from these points. (i) Daily Missals do not have ring tones while phones have ring tones that do and can ring during Mass if the phone is not turned off. Ring tones distract the parishioner-owner of the phone that rings and they also distract other parishioners during Mass (ii) With Daily Missal one cannot send or receive text messages, with phones one can. In some churches (especially "prosperity" and "entrepreneur" churches), church goers do receive and send text messages while their services are going on (iii) With daily Missal one cannot make calls, one cannot receive calls. With phone one can. We all know these differences between Daily Missal and phone, and I am not saying everyone who brings their phones to church uses their phones to text or call. No, that is not what I am saying. I am only saying Daily Missal and phones are different. So if they are different, one can explain and defend the use of one (Daily Missal) right inside the church of Christ-the Catholic Church-when the Mass is on, and argue against the use of the other (phone) during Mass right inside the church, when the Mass is on. Now does this say people cannot use their phones during Mass? No! It is a "modern", or is it called post "modern" world, the period of acute relativism where we all are jealous of our personal rights over any other force! We see the consequences of this relativism on faith in the contemporary world. We also see what relativism has turned some Christian denominations into-basically worshipers of the material, money, gold and dollar-thus turning the Churches and so-called "Christian" universities into business and personal profit making enterprises. I do not think the Catholic Church should go in that direction. To see the dangers of relativism to our faith, no example makes the point better than where the THE CHRISTIAN HOLY FAMILY (Mary and Joseph) has been blasphemously evoked to justify the clear pedophilia of a politician (who allegedly force and coerce-dated a 14 year old girl, when he was an adult) right in our country! If THE CHRISTIAN HOLY FAMILY can be used to justify the pedophilia of a politician, and that is done openly among christians, and members of the christian audience of such blasphemous analogy have not raised their voices and ask the person who drew the blasphemous analogy to STOP IT, then that is the ultimate in our world of relativism. Anything including the most sacred for our faith can be used to justify personal behavior. We-Catholics -then need to be more introspective about our faith and practices around us. This is not being holier than thou! However, I think that the Catholic Church should act both in and outside the Church so that the world will come to imitate Christ and HIS ministry. So, after the explanations are offered about phones and their uses right inside the Church during Mass, we are free to make our choices. There is no compulsion in our beautiful faith-Catholicism- for it is always a journey. As it is revealed, so it is experienced. As humans, God's people will always experience differently what is divinely revealed. This is why our faith in Christ is always a journey.

Alfredo S.
6 years 1 month ago

It's clear from the Holy Father's comments that he wasn't speaking about using electronic devices to follow the Mass or the readings. He is speaking against the distraction of removing oneself from a very personal encounter with Christ to take a picture. "Hold it right there Lord...gotta get a picture of this. OK, got it. Carry on."

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