Sunday has lost its sense as day of rest, renewal in Christ, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just like a plant needs sun and
nourishment to survive, every Christian needs the light of Sunday and the
sustenance of the Eucharist to truly live, Pope Francis said.

“How can we carry out the Gospel without drawing the
energy needed to do it, one Sunday after another, from the limitless source of
the Eucharist,” he said Dec. 13 during his weekly general audience.

“We don’t go to Mass to give something to God, but
to receive from him that which we truly need,” the pope said. Sunday Mass
is the time and place Christians receive the grace and strength to remain
faithful to his word, follow his commandment to love others and be credible
witnesses in the world.

The pope continued his series of audience talks on the
Mass in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, which was decorated with a large Christmas
tree and a life-sized Nativity scene. A number of people in the audience hall
handed the pope — who turns 81 Dec. 17 — Christmas cards, notes and a
chocolate cake.

In his catechesis, the pope responded to the question of
why it is so important to go to Mass on Sundays and why it is not enough just
to live a moral life, loving others.

Sunday Mass is not simply an obligation, he said.
“We Christians need to take part in Sunday Mass because only with the
grace of Jesus, with his presence alive in us and among us, can we put into
practice his commandment and, in this way, be his credible witnesses.”

“Just like a plant needs the sun and nourishment to
live, every Christian needs the Sunday Eucharist to truly live,” he said
in summarized remarks to Arabic speakers.

“What kind of Sunday is it for a Christian if an
encounter with the Lord is missing?” he asked in his main talk.

Unfortunately, in many secularized countries, the
Christian meaning of the day has been lost and is no longer “illuminated
by the Eucharist” or lived as a joyous feast in communion with other
parishioners and in solidarity with others, he said.

Also often missing is the importance of Sunday as a day
of rest, which is a sign of the dignity of living as children of God, not
slaves, he said.

“Without Christ, we are condemned to be dominated by
the fatigue of daily life with all its worries and the fear of tomorrow. The
Sunday encounter with the Lord gives us the strength to live today with
confidence and courage and to move forward with hope,” he said.

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