Pope Francis stressed the importance of the liturgy and the sacraments to the life of Christians during his weekly catechism on Feb. 3.
“A Christianity without liturgy, I would dare say is perhaps a Christianity without Christ, without the whole of Christ,” said the pope.
He said it is essential for Christians to participate in the liturgy and the sacraments to encounter the real presence of Jesus.
“Every time we celebrate a baptism, or consecrate the bread and wine in the Eucharist, or anoint the body of a sick person with Holy Oil, Christ is here,” said the pope.
“It is He who acts and is present as when He healed the weak limbs of a sick person, or when at the Last Supper, He delivered His testament for the salvation of the world,” he added.
The pope said, “there is no Christian spirituality that is not rooted in the celebration of the holy mysteries.”
The Catholic Church teaches that the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit is made present and communicated through “the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays.”
Pope Francis said that in the history of Christianity, there has often been a temptation to emphasize one’s individual prayer over the spiritual importance of public liturgical rites.
“Often this tendency claimed the presumed greater purity of a religiosity that did not depend on external ceremonies, considered a useless or harmful burden,” he said.
The pope, however, said that liturgy is the foundational act of the Christian experience.
“Christ makes himself present in the Holy Spirit through the sacramental signs: hence the need for us Christians to participate in the divine mysteries,” said Pope Francis.
He said that when the first Christians worshiped, they did so by “actualizing the gestures and words of Jesus with the light and power of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Francis noted that even during times when Christians experience imprisonment or persecution, when the liturgical rite is at its most bare, “Christ makes himself truly present and gives himself to his faithful.”
“The liturgy, precisely because of its objective dimension, asks to be celebrated with fervor, so that the grace poured out in the rite is not dispersed but reaches the experience of each one,” he said.