In the context of yesterday’s General Audience, the Holy Father spoke not only of the Vultus Christi, the Face of Christ, but also of turning toward the Lord in the Sacred Liturgy. While in the Mass of the Catechumens or Liturgy of the Word, the Face of Christ is turned toward us, in the Mass of the Faithful or Liturgy of the Eucharist, we follow Him in His contemplation of the Father, and in His priestly service in the heavenly sanctuary “within the veil” (Heb 6:19). “This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Unity will be the fruit of “turning together toward the Lord” or it will not be at all.
The Face of Christ
The world is suffering from the absence of God, from the inaccessibility of God, it has the desire to know the Face of God. But how can men and women today know the Face of God in the Face of Christ if we Christians are divided, if one teaches against another, if one stands against other? Only in unity can we truly show the Face of God, the Face of Christ, to a world which has such need to see it.
Prayer for Unity
It is also evident that it is not with our own strategies, with dialogue and with all that we do — which, however, is so necessary — that we are able to obtain this unity. That which we are able to obtain is our readiness and capacity to welcome this unity when the Lord gives it to us. This is the meaning of the prayer [for unity]: to open our hearts, to create in us that readiness that opens the way to Christ.
In the liturgy of the ancient Church, after the homily, the Bishop or the one presiding the celebration, the principle celebrant, used to say, “Conversi ad Dominum” [Turn toward the Lord]. Thereupon he himself and everyone would rise and face the East. All wanted to to look toward Christ. Only in the conversion of oneself, only in this conversion [turning toward] Christ, in this common looking to Christ, are we able to find the gift of unity.
Pope Benedict XVI
General Audience, 23 January 2008