Friday, May 02, 2008

Holy Father's Visit

One of the comments I accidentally deleted today made the remark that I seem to have "lost interest" in the Holy Father's visit to the United States because I have failed to comment on it. He specifically asked whether or not I would be willing to criticize the "kumbaya fests" that happen on papal trips since I was so quick to criticize NCYC's kumbaya fests.

For the record, I did not do much commentary on the Pope's visit because so many other blogs were already doing it, and doing a much better job than I would have.

While I disagree with the point of view this commentator took, he brought up a good point: are we as equally likely to criticize the same things we dislike about NCYC when they happen to appear at a papal Mass? I love Pope Benedict XVI, but I would have to say that the answer is "yes." I am equally shocked and scandalized, perhaps even more so, when these type of song and dance events go on at papal Masses. Whatever else could be said about NCYC, I must point out that none of that dancing or drama stuff was during a Mass. The NCYC Mass was relatively free of liturgical abuse (I say relatively), aside for the poor choice of music.

The fact that Pope Benedict XVI is immersed in the Traditions of the Church makes it even worse when these types of things show up at papal Masses, and I am speaking in general here, not about any one Mass in particular. The commentator who challenged me to criticize the papal Mass seemed to be taking the papalatry stance: "Well, you shouldn't criticize NCYC's excesses because the Pope allows the same thing at his" (implying, of course, that the Pope's decision is automatically correct and therefore ought to be praised).

This line of thinking demonstrates two things: first, the unreasonable degree to whch certain Catholics extend the prerogatives of papal infallibility (i.e., that the Pope ought to be implicitly trusted and praised even in something like the music he allows at a liturgy). But we all already know about this trend. More importantly, I would point out the way in which the things that the Popes allow in their liturgies really do set an example that is followed quite consciously by others around the world. Perhaps the Pope is thinking, "Well, I don't intend this to be a norm. I just permitted it for this unique occasion." But the exceptions that he permits soon become regular praxis in the Church Universal, as every deviation and experimentation is justified with "well, the Pope allows it." Whatever the Pope's intentions are at allowing such things, this is the inevitable result.

So, am I less of a Catholic for thinking the Pope (any pope) ought not to permit the NCYC style hoopla at papal Masses? I don't think so. If you think so, then you have a very skewered idea of how far the prerogatives of obedience to the Pope go. I can be a loyal Catholic and still say the Pope's vestments at his Mariazell Mass were ugly and not in keeping with any liturgical color:

Similarly, I am free to criticize the choice of music, decora, etc., though we all have to remember that this criticism is leveled in a spirit of charity and filial devotion, not one of divisiveness and anger. We criticize the Church not in order to bring it down, but because we want it to rise. There is a world of difference.

I think the Holy Father knows what he is doing, and I am aware that he does not always make the decisions in these matters, that he has people who arrange these things for him. To be fair, his ex-Master of Ceremonies Marini was fired right after the above pictured Mass in Mariazell. But if Benedict is sincere about wanting to restore the liturgy, then he needs to speak out on these things a lot more frequently and with much more conviction, especially if they occur at one of his own Masses.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the clarification regarding NCYC that “none of that dancing or drama stuff was during a Mass.”
Excesses deserved to be criticized, but, for the sake of integrity, one should attempt to apply an equal standard. Regarding the NCYC YouTubes that you placed on your site, many comments were invoked. They included concerns about the money spent, the pizza consumed, the Catholic Social Teaching encouraged, multi-culturalism, and a sense of kumbaya love-fest. The overwhelming set of images that you placed on your site via NCYC-related YouTubes were from the general sessions and prayers, inviting criticism regarding the motives or effectiveness of NCYC.
One wonders, however, that if a similar search of YouTube was conducted of the Papal youth rally, would these same commenters be equally offended by the very same concerns. To be fair, the Papal youth rally was a prayer service not a Mass. A similar search of YouTube for the concert that occurred preceding the Holy Father’s arrival could likely do the same thing that your posting of NCYC videos did, especially among those who have definitive ideas about what music is considered “appropriate.”
During his US visit, the Pope challenged US Bishops to lead "a renewal of that apostolic zeal... (which) calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today’s challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church’s mission to the present generation." Perhaps this could be our standard in evaluation our programming (such as NCYC, Papal Youth Rallies, etc.) with young people?
During his US visit, the Pope reminded US educators of "A particular responsibility therefore for each of you, and your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief." Again, when the next expensive money draining, pizza consuming, Catholic Social Teaching encouraging, multi-cultural kumbaya love-fest comes along (World Youth Day in Sydney this summer), might we all pray that such a desire has been evoked?

In the meantime, when discussing NCYC, Papal youth rallies, World Youth Day, and their ilk, might we engage in a discussion where we can, together, seek to engage the Spirit in our work with young people? In the future, perhaps, we can “refrain as much as possible from making blanket statements about the entire event” such as “the Catholicism I witnessed while I was at NCYC in Columbus was not really Catholicism at all (it was more of a pan-Christianity)?”

Boniface said...

Dr. Miller-

I stand by my statement, "the Catholicism I witnessed while I was at NCYC in Columbus was not really Catholicism at all (it was more of a pan-Christianity" because anythign distinctively Catholic about the event (except the presence of priests and a Mass) was absent. A Protestant could have felt perfectly at home there.

Anonymous said...

Great. . . now we can discus . . . It seems that your concerns are related to Catholic identity.

Here is what I saw. . . Kids attending Eucharistic Adoration and others genuflecting in homage when the monstrance was processed through a crowed hallway. Others attended the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Creation story (which is a key to JP2’s Theology of the Body) was told creatively not once but twice from the main-stage. Bishops were all over the place. Workshops included messages on chastity, Eucharist, Mary and the saints, vocations, and, yes, topics related to Catholic Social Teaching. . .

Could each and every one of those elements have been more pronounced? You betcha!

Now, exactly, which elements of Catholic identity do you feel were missing. . .?

Boniface said...

Ah, names can be deceiving. So people genuflected before the Eucharist. Did they understand what they were genuflecting before?

Sacrament of Reconciliation was sparsely attended, contrasted to the expo hall, which was packed. There was tons of empty seats in Reconciliation and in the Adoration chapel...whole empty rows. A quote from my original post:

To NCYC's credit, Mass was offered every day, and Confession and Eucharistic Adoration were going on continually (I made sure my kids went every day). But the adoration chapel frequently had many empty rows of seats; the comedy club, on the other hand, was packed and we had to sit on the floor.

Workshop on saints and Mary? I attended one called "Growing with Mary and the Saints." Sounds good, right? Here is my post on what it was really about (skip down to the part about Bro Mickey McGrath. The picture at the top of the post is supposed to be of Mary).

What about Catholic social teaching? Yep, there was a workshop there called "Catholic and Just" Here's what it was:

That day we went to a workshop called "Catholic and Just" which was on Catholic social teaching. The speakers were neo-Marxists who insinuated that Global Warming was as serious as abortion. My kids and I got up to leave and a large woman yelled, "You're just leaving cuz' you don't want to hear the truth!" or something to that effect.

What about the evning prayers?

That night we went to what was billed as "evening prayer" but was actually this weird dance with the lights off where these kids all were twirling glow sticks in the shape of a human body while this crazy music was playing. Bizarre.

So, yes, it is about identity. You can put all the Catholic names on these things you want...yeah, there were a ton of priests and bishops there..and guess what, a ton of them were wearing rainbow stoles and the altar was covered in a tye-dye altar cloth, too.

If you have not checked out my original write ups on this event, please do so. Here is the first one, and you can link to the second from it:

Anonymous said...

Again, by your standards, we might imagine that the Papal youth was an unsuccessful event if a sweeping majority did not attend reconciliation having been distracted by long lines for food. Perhaps, Dunwoodie failed because of the incongruity between Kelly Clarkson’s pre-arrival concert and her later singing of “Ave Maria.” Maybe, it was because that while the event was supposed to be prayer, it just didn’t seem or feel or flow like prayer. . .

It is challenging in determining “Catholic Identity” by only what seems absent. Again, what should be the basics of what should be present? Where is the list of standards from which you make such comments? (It can’t a simple as it looks like a pig, sounds like a pig, and smells like a pig, therefore it is a . . . ) Can we all apply your same standards to the Papal Youth Rally or towards your own parish’s recent prayer or liturgy with youth that your postings have made regarding NCYC?

Finally, are you evaluating NCYC by the intention of the planners (who provided Mass and Eucharist Adoration and Reconciliation etc.) OR the participants who didn’t attend as fully as anyone would have desired OR their adult leaders and chaperones (who seemed to include a ton of rainbow stole wearing ecclesial leaders – you weren’t one of them, were you???)

As an aside, when the Holy Father visited the UN, he did speak about the “environment.” He did speak about “human rights,” from which you can I can and will draw a case against “abortion” - - a word which he did not speak in from the UN podium. He also included some commentary regarding Marx (which Marxist was your classification of two NCYC workshop presenters, I’m not sure that spoke his name at all or as often as the Pope did) in a recent encyclical. Yet, we are not concerned about that, are we?

All I am encouraging is that we ratchet down the rhetoric and tone of such commentary. Otherwise, I am concerned that it will be applied more globally and eventually be a cause for scandal within our ONE Church.

Thank you for providing the forum for this dialouge!

Anonymous said...

I think the vestments that the Holy Father (and the other ministers) are wearing is the most atrocious of all vestments donned by Benedict XVI by far.