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.


Mattheus Mei said...

darn radtraddies - I thought the entire liturgy was beautiful, and I liked the musical selection it was a swath of Catholic Americana - and I don't think it swayed to far outside of tradition.
With the Veni Sancte Spiritus yes there was the Drums, but the heart from where those drums beat is from the same heart as oh so many centuries ago those words were recorded and chanted and sung throughout the ages.
The same with the Ubi Caritas which had a bit of soulfulness to it was a beautiful amalgamation of the two and a prime example of (at least my interpretation)of what it means to be apply a hermeneutic of continuity

Or am I just serving to ruffles someone's feathers...

Sherry W said...


I was watching EWTN too when Neuhaus started making his most inappropriate comments just as a Asian lady (I thought she was Vietnamese but I could not really hear what she was saying because of the Neuhaus' voice over) was praying.

At first I was stunned - because it was such a happy occasion and the Pope looked *so* joyful.

Then I saw red. When I thought of the centuries of unbelievable suffering for the faith that Vietnamese and Korean and Chinese Catholics have endured - often going generations without priests or the sacraments, being tortured and executed in terrible ways and then their struggle to come to this country and how fervent many Vietnamese are and how many priestly vocations they are produced, I was left speechless. Nothing could have been more appropriate than that this incredibly faithful community be given what? 15 seconds? in a papal Mass in the nation's capital to pray a one line prayer in their heart language.

And then I turned EWTN off. Far better to listen to the sometimes inane ramblings on CNN or MSNBC than such stuff from someone like Neuhaus whom I had respected and expected much more of.

What I really wanted was coverage without much commentary at all - where I could simply be part of the moment and take it in prayerfully without someone insisting on interpreting the experience for me and imposing their personal agendas - and I don't care if it is from the right or the left.

So its nice to know that I can do that through the US Bishop's site.

Mattheus Mei said...

Sherry, you can also just see/hear the feed on CNN's website, that's the outlet I used - no commentary!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your commentary on the commentary. I wrote them an email about it, since I felt like I had to balance out what the rest were saying.

And I agree with others. It seems that the new MC Marini had a pretty firm hand in the planning. I doubt they pulled a fast one.

I'm not always that moved by huge stadia liturgy - and it seems a little bombastic, but how are you going to have a 'moment' that reaches to the upper decks, if it isn't a little too much at the altar platform.

L.T. said...

As an Asian Catholic, I find your comments patronizing. Never wax sanctimoniously over the sufferings of others to make a point. Also, you presume all Asian Catholics love the inculturation craze and folksy liturgical movement. Many, if not most Asian Catholics, want the continuity, not in opposition to our ethnicity/culture, but with the understanding that the Gospel and Holy Tradition transforms our ethnicity and cultures.

This ideological divide desperately needs resolution and clarification. If we rush to embrace the new before we've even understood and internalized the Apostolic Tradition, we'll always be missing that one Nicene note of the Church: apostolicity.

It's only because the "traddies" love the Pope and the Tradition that they feel such revulsion at the sort of pap presented specifically at the Responsorial and the salsa thingy. If the "traddies" go too far in romanticizing one cultural expression, then it's on the grounds of Apostolic Tradition we we should make that point, not on some multiculturalist logic. But we cannot surrender objectivity regarding the liturgy without giving away the whole ship. As inappropriately intemperate Fr. Neuhaus may have been, he was right. And American Catholics need to hear that perspective once in a while, just maybe not while the Mass is going on.

The Perpetual Malcontent said...

I'm no rad-trad but I do share the view that the music at yesterday's Papal Mass was just awful. Plain awful.

If the music was "normal", nobody would've spent so much time talking about it, on-air or otherwise. But it wasn't. It's like a multiple collision, everyone notices it on the street and everyone comments about it. It was that bad.