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Cardinal Arinze: The Mass is not Entertainment

Our Holy of Holies- the Presence of God Himself among us at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

This is the true gift- Christ revealing Himself, and Christ revealing man to himself.

The Mass is a moment of reflection and encounter with God, rather than a form of entertainment, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

Here are some fav quotes:

Regarding "music in the liturgy, we should start by saying that Gregorian music is the Church's precious heritage," he said. "It should stay. It should not be banished. If therefore in a particular diocese or country, no one hears Gregorian music anymore, then somebody has made a mistake somewhere."

"The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth. Therefore it should influence the type of instrument used, the type of music used."

"I will not now pronounce and say never guitar; that would be rather severe," Cardinal Arinze added. "But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the Mass. Yet, it is possible to think of some guitar music that would be suitable, not as the ordinary one we get every time, [but with] the visit of a special group, etc."

"People don't come to Mass in order to be entertained. They come to Mass to adore God, to thank him, to ask pardon for sins, and to ask for other things that they need."

Referring to a negative tendency in the Western world, the cardinal revealed that an increasing number of Catholics have "a more Protestant concept of the Eucharist, seeing it mainly as a symbol."

"It was recognized so much that many of the synod fathers suggested that there be themes suggested for homilies on Sundays. Seeing that for many Catholics the Sunday homily is about the only religious instruction they get in a week, the synod fathers suggested that the four major areas of Catholic faith should be covered by the homily in a three-year cycle."

The four areas correspond to the parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "First part, what we believe," Cardinal Arinze said. "Second part, how we worship, i.e., sacraments. Third part, what we live, life in Christ, so the moral law, the Ten Commandments, the Christian life lived; and the fourth part, prayer."

"There has been a bit of neglect of the holy Eucharist outside Mass," he said. "A lot of ignorance. A lot of temptations to showmanship for the priest who celebrates facing the people.

"If he is not very disciplined he will soon become a performer. He may not realize it, but he will be projecting himself rather than projecting Christ. Indeed it is very demanding, the altar facing the people. Then even those who read the First and Second Reading can engage in little tactics that make them draw attention to themselves and distract the people.

Contrary to what many think, he said, "even when there was the Tridentine Mass there were abuses. Many Catholics did not know, because they did not know Latin! So when the priest garbled the words, they were not aware of this.

Cardinal Arinze concluded that the liturgy "is not the property of one individual, therefore an individual does not tinker with it, but makes the effort to celebrate it as Holy Mother Church wants. When that happens, the people are happy, they feel nourished. Their faith grows, their faith is strengthened. They go home happy and willing to come back next Sunday."

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