Friday, April 18, 2008

The Pope's Visit

I know there are already so many postings all over the internet about the Pope's visit to the U.S., but I just wanted to share my own thoughts.
It truly is a grace to have him here in our country, no matter how the liturgies turn out or what anyone else does, etc. I am not saying that such things do not matter, but there is still much joy in just having the Holy Father here with us. I have been praying for him. May his presence as the voice of Christ on Earth instill greater hope in Christians and draw all people to Christ.
On specifics, I was able to watch the last half of the papal mass at Nationals Park, and I truly felt sorry that the Holy Father had to endure the performance style, self-focused, overly-multicultural display of music that happened. He did not look very pleased or comfortable at times. However, EWTN made it quite amusing with its witty and forthright comments about the music being completely unsuitable considering all the Holy Father has written about concerning liturgy and music. Rather than doing great harm, I firmly hope that the mass live on EWTN with such comments will be a turning point in liturgy for the church. I think it will end up being helpful to the new liturgical movement in the long run, and I am glad the Holy Father got to see the state of much of the liturgical life of the church up close and personal! I pray that it prompts him to shepherd with even greater clarity and firmness against liturgical abuse.
From what I have heard, I am glad I didn't hear the responsorial psalm. I was a little surpised at the lack of modest dress of a couple of the women bringing gifts up to the Holy Father for the offertory as well. If there's a dress code even at St. Peter's in Rome, why shouldn't one be enforced at papal masses for those who will visibly be part of the ceremonies? The women's dresses were visibily well above knee length, which I just find inappropriate, ESPECIALLY on such an occasion as a papal liturgy! I am not blaming these women, they probably don't even consider it immodest in our culture, but I would have thought those in charge of the ceremonies would make sure all involved understand appropriate dress and posture. Which brings me to my next point: I know they were all carrying gifts to the Holy Father, but is it not customary to genuflect/kneel before the Holy Father and kiss his ring, as the tenor did after singing Panis Angelicus? This might not be the case during the offertory, I'm not sure. I would gladly appreciate it if someone knows the custom concerning this. It just seemed odd to me they wouldn't at least kiss his ring. Also, if women having a private audience with the Pope are still required to veil their heads (which from what I've heard, they are), then why wouldn't they veil their heads if they are involved in the ceremonies of a Papal mass? Seems inconsistent to me.
Besides the music, the altar setup was nice, and the sanctuary area did not turn out to be as awful as I thought it would be from a computer image I had seen of the plans before he came. The rest of the liturgy seemed quite nice (the last half anyway), except for maybe all the people recieving communion in the hand from the Pope himself, of all people!

I also listened to the address to the UN today, which was good. As always, words of wisdom from our Holy Father. It was received very well by the UN, with a standing ovation. I look forward to watching the mass with clergy and the meeting with youth tomorrow, as well as the Mass at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. These liturgical functions promise to be more in continuity with directives from Rome. I'm glad that these celebrations will end the Holy Father's visit.

I also think I am rather glad that I am watching it on EWTN rather than being there myself. I would never get to see him so close up in person attending mass in a stadium as I can on EWTN. I like being able to get the "better view" of everything going on. Maybe I will still get the chance to see Pope Benedict XVI up close before he dies. It would be such an honor! Ad Multos Annos, Papa Benedict!

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