CITY (CNS) -- God asks so little of people and yet, he gives so much in return,
Pope Francis said.
asks for our goodwill in daily life, he asks us for an open heart, he asks us
to be willing to be better," the pope said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican Feb.
of ice and unusual freezing
temperatures in Rome, Pope
Francis held the audience in the Vatican's Paul VI hall. But the Vatican
also opened St. Peter's Basilica to accommodate the overflow. Giant screens were
set up in the basilica so the people could follow the audience, and later the
pope went to the basilica to greet and bless those inside.
better to be here than in the cold, right?" he asked those in the basilica.
In his main talk, the pope continued
his series on the Mass, focusing on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which begins
with the preparation of the gifts of bread and wine that are then consecrated and
distributed to the faithful at holy Communion.
the Mass, the priest represents Christ and does what the Lord did at the Last
Supper: takes up the bread and wine to give to his disciples, saying "this
is my body, this is my blood. Do this in memory of me," the pope said.
good, he said, that the people of God present the priest with the bread and
consecration because the elements
represent "the spiritual offering of the church." At the offertory, all the
faithful are invited to present their own lives as a spiritual offering
together with the gifts brought to the altar, he said.
center of the Mass is
the altar and the altar is Christ. Always look at the altar," which also
represents the cross
where Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, he added.
the altar of Christ, we bring the little (there is with) our gifts -- bread and
wine -- and they
become the plenty --
Jesus himself, who gives himself to us" in the Eucharist, the pope said.
course, our offering isn't much, but Christ needs this tiny amount. The Lord
asks for little and he gives us so much."
experience the preparation of the gifts at every Mass as an invitation to offer
their lives more fully to the Lord so that they would receive from him the grace needed to grow in
holiness, encounter others with love and compassion and to "build the
earthly city in the light of the Gospel," the pope said.
a summary of the pope's talk was read in Arabic, the pope asked everyone to
pray for all the people
of Syria and the Middle East --
"a martyred land."
have to pray for these brothers and sisters who are at war and for the
persecuted Christians --
they want to expel them from that land. Let us pray for our brothers and
sisters," he said.