Pope Paul VI
On Saturday evening, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Roman church of ‘Ognissanti’- All Saints’ – in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first Mass offered in Italian. It was in the church of Ognissanti, fifty years ago, on the First Sunday of Lent, 1965, that Pope Paul VI offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass predominantly using the vernacular – the language of the people.
Describing the event, Pope Paul said: “Across the world this date marks the first time a new way of praying, of celebrating Holy Mass has been inaugurated.” In his homily, Pope Francis recalled the Gospel account of the cleansing of the temple, and Jesus’ famous remark, “Do not make My Father’s house a marketplace!” This expression, the Pope said, did not just refer to those doing business in the temple; it refers to a certain type of religiosity. Jesus’ gesture is one of “cleansing, of purification.”
God is not pleased with material offerings based on personal interests. Rather, Jesus is calling us to “authentic worship, to the correspondence between liturgy and life – a call that is true for every age, and also for us today.” Recalling the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pope Francis said, “the Church is calling us to have and to promote an authentic liturgical life, so that there may be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates, and what we live in our daily existence.” The liturgy, he said, “is the privileged place to hear the voice of the Lord, who guides us on the path of righteousness and Christian perfection.”
The liturgy, he continued, invites us to a journey of conversion and penance, especially during Lent, “the time of interior renewal, of the remission of sins, the time in which we are called to rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, that makes us go from the darkness of sin to the light of grace and friendship with Jesus.” The Pope said we must never forget “the great strength that this Sacrament has for the Christian life: it makes us grow in union with God, makes us regain lost joy and experience the consolation of knowing we are personally welcomed by the merciful embrace of the Father.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily noting that the church of Ognissanti was built “thanks to the apostolic zeal of Saint Luigi Orione.” And he recalled that it was here, “in a certain sense,” that Blessed Paul VI “inaugurated the liturgical reform” with the celebration of the Mass “in the language of the people.” Pope Francis expressed his hope that this occasion would revive in everyone a great “love for the house of God.”