In zijn vraaggesprek met de clerus van Rome, 7 februari jl., bespreekt paus Benedictus de problemen die gepaard gaan met de H. Mis waaraan duizenden mensen deelnemen. Voor wie ooit aanwezig was of enkel beelden zag van zulke 'vieringen' zoals in Keulen of Oostenrijk in het recente verleden, beseft dat hier ernstige vragen dienen bij gesteld te worden, zowel wat betreft de gelovigen als de massaal concelebrerende priesters. Interessant is vooral dat blijkt dat de H. Vader bij deze gelegenheden niet alles in hand lijkt te hebben en dat bovendien hij de vraag stelt of bij massa-concelebratie nog "datgene wat de Heer gewild heeft" aanwezig is.
Hier zijn de woorden van onze Heilige Vader (Engelse vertaling via de website van Sandro Magister)
"Q: How do you reconcile the treasure of the liturgy in all of its solemnity with the sentiment, feeling, and emotionality of the masses of young people who are called to participate in it?
A: The problem of liturgies at which masses of people participate is a serious one I recall that in 1960, during the great international Eucharistic congress in Munich, there was an attempt to give a new physiognomy to the Eucharistic congresses, which until then had been solely acts of adoration. The intention was to put the celebration of the Eucharist at the center as the act of the presence of the mystery celebrated.
But the question immediately arose of how this could be done. Adoration, it was said, can also be done from a distance; but in order to celebrate there must be a delimited community that can interact with the mystery, and therefore a community that must be an assembly around the celebration of the mystery.
Many were against the idea of celebrating the Eucharist outdoors with a hundred thousand people. They said that it was not possible because of the very structure of the Eucharist, which requires community for communion. And there were also prominent personalities, very respectable, who were against this solution.
But then professor Jungmann, a great liturgist and one of the leading architects of the liturgical reform, created the concept of "statio orbis," returning to the "statio Romae" in which during the Lenten season the faithful would gather in a place, the "statio," like soldiers for Christ, and then would go to the Eucharist together. If that, he said, had been the "statio" of the city of Rome, the place where the city of Rome gathered, that this would be the "statio orbis," the place where the world gathers.
It was from that moment that we had Eucharistic celebrations with mass participation. For me, I must say, it remains a problem, because concrete communion in the celebration is fundamental, and therefore I do not believe that the definitive answer has truly been found. Again at the last synod [of bishops] I raised this question again, but the answer was not found.
I posed another question, about mass concelebration: because if, for example, a thousand priests concelebrate, it is not clear whether the structure intended by the Lord is still present. These are questions. And so you encountered, in Loreto, the difficulty of participating in a mass celebration during which it is not possible that all be equally involved. A certain style must therefore be chosen to preserve the dignity that is always necessary for the Eucharist; the community is not uniform, and the experience of participation at the event is different; for some, it is certainly insufficient. But in Loreto, this matter did not depend upon me, but rather upon those occupied with the preparation.
We must therefore reflect well on what to do in these situations [. . .] The fundamental problem remains, but it seems to me that, knowing what the Eucharist is, even if one does not have the possibility of the kind of exterior activity desired to feel oneself as a participant, one may enter with the heart, as the ancient imperative of the Church says, which may have been created precisely for those who were in the back of the basilica: "Let us lift up our hearts! Now let us all come out from ourselves, so that we ma be with the Lord and be together." I do not deny the problem, but if we truly follow these words, "let us lift up our hearts," we will all find, even in difficult and sometimes questionable situations, true active participation."