On the Creed and Universal Prayer
by Pope Francis
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Good morning, even though the day is not very nice. But if the soul is joyful it is always a good day! So, good morning! Today the audience will be held in two parts: a small group of sick people will be in the Hall, due to the weather, and are here. But we can see them and they can see us on the maxi-screen. Let us greet them with applause.
We are continuing our Catechesis on the Mass. Listening to the biblical readings, extended in the homily, responds to what? It responds to a right: the spiritual right of the people of God to receive with abundance the treasure of the Word of God (cf. Introduction to the Lectionary, 45). Each one of us, when he goes to Mass, has the right to receive abundantly the Word of God, well read, well said and then explained well in the homily. It is a right! And when the Word of God is not read well, it is not preached with fervour by the deacon, by the priest or by the bishop, a right is denied to the faithful. We have the right to listen to the Word of God. The Lord speaks for all, Pastors and faithful. He knocks on the heart of those who participate in the Mass, each one in his or her life condition, age, and situation. The Lord consoles, calls, nurtures the shoots of a new and reconciled life. And He does this through His Word. His Word knocks on the heart and changes hearts!
Therefore, after the homily, a time of silence allows the seed that is received to settle in the soul, to enable the birth of the intentions of adhering to what the Spirit has suggested to each person. The silence after the homily. There must be a good silence there, and each person must think about what he has heard.
After this silence, how does the Mass continue? The personal response of faith is found in the Church’s profession of faith, expressed in the “Creed”. We all recite the “Creed” in the Mass. Recited by the whole assembly, the Symbolum manifests the common response to what has been heard in the Word of God (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 185-197). There is a vital link between listening and faith. They are united. In fact, this, faith, does not come from the imagination of human minds but, as Saint Paul recalls, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10: 17). Faith is nurtured, therefore, by listening, and leads to the sacrament. Thus, the recitation of the “Creed” ensures that the liturgical assembly “call to mind and confess the great mysteries of the faith by reciting the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical use, before these mysteries are celebrated in the Eucharist” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 67).
The Symbolum binds the Eucharist to baptism, received “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, and reminds us that the Sacraments are understandable in the light of the faith of the Church.
The response to the Word of God received with faith is then expressed in the common plea, called the Universal Prayer, because it embraces the needs of the Church and the world (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 69-71; Introduction to the Lectionary, 30-31). It is also known as the Prayer of the Faithful.
The Fathers of Vatican Council II wanted to restore this prayer after the Gospel and the homily, especially on Sundays and feast days, so that “by this prayer, in which the people are to take part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world” (Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 53, cf. 1 Tim 2: 1-2). Therefore, under the guidance of the priest who introduces and concludes, the people, exercising their baptismal priesthood, offer to God prayers for the salvation of all" (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 69). And after the individual intentions, proposed by the deacon or by a reader, the assembly unites in one voice, invoking: “Hear us, O Lord”.
Indeed, let us remember what the Lord Jesus told us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” (Jn 15: 7). “But we do not believe this, because we have little faith”. But if we had faith – says Jesus – like the mustard seed, we would have received everything. “Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you”. And in this moment of the universal prayer after the Creed, it is the moment to ask the Lord the strongest things in the Mass, the things we need, what we want. “It will be done for you”; in one way or another “it will be done for you”. “Everything is possible to he who believes”, the Lord said. What did that man answer to the Lord, who addressed him to say that phrase – everything is possible to he who believes? He said, “Lord, I believe in you. Increase my faith”. We too can say, “Lord, I believe in you. Increase my faith”. And the prayer must be recited with this spirit of faith. “Lord, I believe in you. Increase my faith”. The pretences of worldly logic, on the other hand, do not rise up towards Heaven, just as self-referential demands remain unanswered (cf James4,2-3). The intentions for which the faithful people are invited to pray must give voice to the concrete needs of the ecclesial community and of the world, avoiding the use of conventional and short-sighted formulas. The “universal” prayer, which concludes the liturgy of the Word, exhorts us to make our own the gaze of God, Who takes care of all His children”.
Greetings in various languages
I welcome Francophone pilgrims, especially those from France and Belgium. I greet the young people of Paris, Saint-Cloud, Aix and Périgueux. Today we begin our journey towards Easter. I invite you to enter this time of conversion, giving more space in your lives to prayer and sharing with the poorest. I wish everyone a good Lent. God bless you!
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Ash Wednesday audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, China and the United States of America. I wish you and your families a holy and fruitful season of Lent, and I invoke upon you the grace and peace of Christ our Lord. May God bless you all!
I extend a cordial greeting to the German-speaking pilgrims. Today Lent begins, a time of grace for the preparation for Easter, that is, the encounter with the risen Jesus. In these forty days we are invited, with prayer, fasting and charitable works, increasingly to become one with Christ. This is why the Lord blesses you and your families.
I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims from Spain and Latin America, and in particular the pilgrims from Caravaca de la Cruz, with their bishop José Manuel Lorca. Today, Ash Wednesday, at the beginning of the Lenten season, time of grace and mercy, we ask the Virgin Mary to help us prepare to celebrate the Passover of Christ with a purified heart. May the Lord bless you. Thank you very much.
I cordially greet the various Portuguese-speaking groups from Brazil and Portugal, especially the many faithful of the parish of Nossa Senhora do Resgate, the members of the Família Vida Association, and the students, teachers and their respective relatives from the São Teotónio College. I invoke the protection of the Virgin Mary upon you and all the other Portuguese-speaking pilgrims: may she take you by the hand for the next forty days, helping you to become more like the resurrected Jesus. I wish you a Lent that is holy and rich in fruits.
I extend a cordial greeting to the Arab-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East. The profession of faith manifests the common answer to what is heard from the Word of God. So, may this answer come from our hearts and become incarnate in our daily life. May the Lord bless you all and protect you from the evil one!
I cordially greet Polish pilgrims. Today we enter Lent, a time of fasting, prayer and charity. As our foreheads are marked with ashes with the invitation to “convert and believe in the Gospel”, let us make our hearts willing to live this time in union with the suffering Christ, Who redeemed us with His passion and death so that, free from sin, we can participate in the holiness of God Himself. I bless you from my heart.
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking faithful.
I greet in particular the participants in the Course promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy, for those responsible for the ongoing formation of the clergy in Latin America; the Claretian Missionaries; the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres and the Daughters of Jesus.
I greet the young people from Tezze sul Brenta; the parishes; the recently-confirmed groups from Valbona and Lozzo Atestino, and the confirmands of Monselice and Arquà Petrarca. I also greet the associations and educational institutes, in particular L’Arca di Legnano and De Filippo of Rome. I urge you to revive your faith, so as to be witnesses of the Lord’s love with concrete works of charity.
I address a special thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today, Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten journey. Dear young people, I wish you to live this time of grace as a return to the love of the Father, Who awaits us all with open arms. Dear people who are sick, I encourage you to offer your sufferings for the conversion of those who live far from faith; and I invite you, dear newlyweds, to build your new family on the rock of God’s love.
Greeting to the sick in the Paul VI Hall
Thank you for the visit. I give my blessing to you all. I am going to the square now, and from here you will be able to follow the audience in the square. They will be able to see you from the square! You will see the square, and the square will see you. And this is nice. Let us pray a Hail Mary to Our Lady.
Recital of Hail Mary
And pray for me! Do not forget! And have a good audience. Until later. Thank you!
© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2018
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