(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted Roman parish priests in an audience in the Vatican Thursday, reflecting on the theme ‘Ars celebrandi,’ especially on the homily. To prepare for the meeting, the priests received a copy of the 2005 statement that the then Cardinal Bergoglio delivered at the Congregation for Divine Worship on the issue. Sergio Centofanti of Vatican Radio’s Italian service spoke to Don Fabio Bartoli, pastor of the Church of St. Benedict in Rome.
R. – “I was very impressed first of all by a reference he made to the need to recover the sense of wonder in the Liturgy; I was struck by the idea that he emphasized: how the priest who celebrates the Liturgy in an automated way, attentive only to the rules, is not capable of wonder - but neither is the priest who celebrates in a sloppy manner. So both things: avoid automation and sloppiness, taking care to communicate the sense of wonder that we first must feel in the celebration.”
Q. – Pope Francis also speaks of having contact with the people…
R. – “Absolutely, because you cannot talk about abstract things that affect only you. It is clear that we must start from the experience of the people, from what is their experience, their suffering, their fatigue. However, we must guide them in precisely this sense of wonder. This too is important because if there is one thing that our people have lost, it is precisely this sense of wonder and the sacred. The key moment of the homily is just that: …to lead life in an encounter with the sacred, to experience and internalize the sacred…”
Q. - In what context do Roman parish priests work today?
R. – “I think in general this city suffers much of the evils suffered by any city: a life that is now perceived in a completely horizontal way, without any reference to the transcendent, without any reference to God. So I think that - regardless of the specific context, ie: the social and economic differences of the people, a common trait that we all must have is this very sense of the transcendent, of the primacy of God that each one of us must transmit in a way that his community can relate to…”
Q. - What is Pope Francis saying to his diocese?
R. – “I think above all, the Pope is urging us priests to ‘be’ deeply with our people; He has said it from the beginning: remember the famous speech of the shepherd who has to have the same smell of the sheep? He exhorts us to be close to our people to love, to love them and to lead them to Christ. I think from that initial intuition - now two years ago - everything he says explains further how to take us in this direction.
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