Don't pray to God 'like a parrot,' says Pope Francis

Mass-goers should spend their time in silence before the service, preparing to 'meet Jesus' instead of engaging in 'chitchat', Pope Francis has said.

'Silence is so important,' the Pope said during his weekly general audience yesterday. 'Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us.'

ReutersPope Francis has said Mass-goers should meet Jesus before the service 'in silence'.

Francis reflected on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is 'the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete' way of encountering God's love.

'This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters,' he said.

He added that in the Gospels, Jesus teaches his disciples that the first thing needed to pray 'is to know how to say "father"' and to trust in God with the humility of a child.

Christians, he said, must also allow themselves to be 'surprised by the living encounter with the Lord,' and not simply 'talk to God like a parrot,' repeating the words of prayers without thinking.

Straying from his prepared words, Pope Francis added: 'The encounter with God is a living encounter. It is not an encounter of a museum, it is a living encounter. And we go to Mass, not a museum! We go to a living encounter with the Lord.'

The Pope went on to say that the Mass is also a gift and a consolation where Christians discover that God's greatest surprise is that he 'loves us even in our weakness'.

'The Lord encounters our frailty,' Francis said. 'This is the environment of the Eucharist. This is prayer.'