As the Council recalls, the liturgical action of the Church is also a part of her contribution to the civilizing task (cf. Gaudium et spes n. 58, 4). The liturgy is indeed the celebration of the central event of human history, the redemptive Sacrifice of Christ. By this, it testifies to the love with which God loves mankind, it testifies that human life has a meaning and that [man] is called by vocation to take part in the glorious life of the Trinity.
Mankind needs this testimony. It needs to perceive, by way of the liturgical celebrations, that the Church is conscious of the Lordship of God and of the dignity of man. It has the right to be able to discern, beyond the limitations that will always characterize her rites and ceremonies, that Christ “is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister” (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7).
Aware of the concern which you have surrounding your liturgical celebrations, I encourage you to cultivate the art of celebration, to help your priests in this sense, and to work ceaselessly in the liturgical formation of seminarians and faithful. Respect for the establishes norms expresses love and fidelity to the Church’s faith, to the treasure of grace that she protects and passes on; the beauty of the celebrations, much more than innovations and subjective adaptations, is what makes the work of evangelization durable and efficacious.
Address to the Bishops of France in their ad limina visit
17 November 2012