Thursday, April 17, 2008
A glorious celebration
A wonderful celebration at Nationals Stadium. One could sense the joy in the air. The Holy Father looked delighted. His homily was fantastic. And I, for one, absolutely love the big huge outdoor Papal Masses. They are grand! Yes, they don't have the same atmosphere as a church, and can be distracting, but they are great celebrations of the catholicity of the Church, as well as a manifestation of communion. Great shots in the arm too.
I loved the little spontaneity too, the way he got up to greet Placido Domingo at the end.
And I know a certain section of the Catholic blogosphere and commentariat is now going into meltdown over the music. It started right there in the middle of Mass on EWTN, when Fr. Neuhaus couldn't resist interrupting with some dour grumbling at the offertory, something about how one can strain to display multiculturalism if one really has to.
And the Holy Father had barely left the podium, when the grumble became a full-fledged lament. "Overweening preening multicultural exhibitionsim" was his exact phrase. There is a certain kind of authentic inculturation. This clearly isn't. Mr. Arroyo said that they had received plenty of emails in the same vein. He called one set "some kind of Amazon thing." (It was actually the Veni Creator Spiritus, being sung, in Latin, set to some ... well unorthodox drums.) And so on. I guess the Magisterium that is EWTN was definitely Not Pleased.
Frankly, and with all due respect to Fr. Neuhaus (whose writings I admire a lot, and a lot of which is very inspirational to me personally), I found this to be extremely obnoxious!
I couldn't help but think of his celebrated phrase, about a "palpable uneasiness" among those who admired Cardinal Ratzinger and were elated at his election. If I recall the context correctly, it was an uneasiness that Ratzinger did not turn out to be the "hammer of heresy" that so many wanted him to be.
Well here this uneasiness was quite palpable, as it morphed into a near screed about how this went against everything that Ratzinger has written about the liturgy over the past several decades.
Well Father, he was there. Right there. This couldn't have been foisted on him, it couldn't have slipped under the radar, or come as a surprise. This liturgy was approved by him. He celebrated it.
I was so thankful when they went over to Joan Lewis who was absolutely bursting with joy, who gushed about how joyful everyone felt, how the singing was superb, how the people were reverent.
Thank you Joan for sharing the atmosphere and that JOY! I suspect that it is what so many felt as well who were watching it across the country and rejoicing at the presence of the Successor of St. Peter in our midst, and who weren't liturigcal mavens intent on analyzing and bemoaning every move that the Holy Father did that was against their own pet peeves and agendas.
All that said, I'll be the first to admit that I have misgivings about the musical selection, as well as the multiculturalism (though probably not what Fr. Neuhaus has in mind) and so on. Maybe I'll think through that and write down my thoughts.
But, my first instinct is to REJOICE! To give thanks for the ministry of the Pope. To thank God for his presence here, and to pray that through his visit the Holy Spirit will indeed renew the Church in the United States.