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VATICAN CITY — Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said.
At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing "to meet with Jesus" instead of engaging in "chitchat," the pope said Nov. 15 at his weekly general audience.
"Silence is so important," he said. "Remember what I told you last time: We are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us."
The pope continued his series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is "the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete" way of encountering God's love.
"This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through Him, with God and with our brothers and sisters," the pope said.
In the Gospels, he continued, Jesus teaches His disciples that the first thing needed to pray "is to know how to say 'father'" and to trust in God with the humility of a child.
Christians also must allow themselves to be "surprised by the living encounter with the Lord," he said, and not simply "talk to God like a parrot," repeating the words of prayers without thinking.
"The encounter with God is a living encounter," the pope said departing from his prepared remarks. "It is not an encounter of a museum, it is a living encounter. And we go to Mass, not a museum! We go to a living encounter with the Lord."
Pope Francis said the Mass is also a gift and a consolation where Christians discover that God's greatest surprise is that he "loves us even in our weakness."
"The Lord encounters our frailty," the pope said. "This is the environment of the Eucharist. This is prayer."
VATICAN CITY — Acts of charity and kindness make a person's faith shine in this world and help ensure that it will shine forever in the afterlife, Pope Francis said.
"Faith inspires charity, and charity safeguards faith," the pope said Nov. 12 at his Angelus address.
Before leading the Angelus prayer with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis discussed the day's Gospel reading, which was St. Matthew's account of "The Parable of the 10 Virgins."
In the story, 10 bridesmaids are waiting for a bridegroom to arrive. They all have lamps, but only five of the bridesmaids have extra oil with them. The groom is delayed and the 10 fall asleep. When he finally arrives, only five of them have enough oil for their lamps.
The parable, the pope said, teaches that keeping watch is not so much about never resting, but about being prepared.
"This is what it means to be wise and prudent: It is a matter of not waiting until the last minute of our lives to collaborate with God's grace, but to start doing so now," he said. "It would do us good to consider a bit that one day will be the last. If it were today, am I prepared?
"To prepare as if today were the last day — this is good for us."
And the symbolism in the parable offers some practical tips, he said. "The lamp is the symbol of the faith that lights our life, while the oil is the symbol of the charity that nourishes and makes fruitful and credible the light of faith."
Being ready for the Lord, he said, requires not just faith, "but a Christian life rich in love and charity toward our neighbors."
— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
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