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Pope Francis says Catholics must rediscover astonishment, unity, in the liturgy

In an apostolic letter, titled Desiderio Desideravi, or “I have earnestly desired,” Pope Francis calls for Catholics to implement in earnest the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, and expresses the Church’s need for “a serious and dynamic liturgical formation.”

The Pope says that the beauty of the Christian celebration must “not be spoiled by a superficial and foreshortened understanding of its value, or worse yet, by its being exploited in service of some ideological vision, no matter what hue.

To pastors, Pope Francis said not to celebrate personalized styles of the liturgy and to institute better liturgical training in seminaries, while he urged lay Catholics to rediscover the capacity to engage with symbolic action, which he says is lost in modern people.

He also provided some insight into his decision to restrict the Tridentine, or, Latin Mass, saying he wrote his motu proprio “Traditionis custodes,” “so that the Church may lift up, in the variety of so many language, one and the same prayer capable of expressing her unity.”

The Pope insisted that the Church “cannot go back to that ritual form which the Council fathers, with and under Peter, felt the need to reform.”

The same day as the letter’s publication, the Pope stressed told the newly appointed metropolitan archbishops not to build antiquated versions of the Church.

The temptations to stay still are great. The temptation of nostalgia makes us look at other times as better. Please, do not fall into “backwardness,” this backwardness of the Church that today is in style.

Just last year, Pope Francis decreed that priests wishing to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass would need to obtain permission from their bishop to do so, angering many groups fond of the pre-Vatican II form of Mass within the Church.

Still, the Pope hopes the Church can move beyond those divisions, writing in the new letter: “Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.”

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