Sunday, April 20, 2008

The House That Benedict Built

A few brief words about the Papal Mass at Yankee stadium. After driving to Yonkers yesterday, it was nice to take a bus in from my church and get to know some of my fellow parishioners. It took a while to get into the stadium until some more security check points became available. We had great seats. The altar staging was set-up over second base. Our seats were in the mezzanine directly behind home plate.

Due to an almost vain and very frustrating attempt that saw me spend 45 minutes or more on line at the concession stand to get a $8 Yankee stadium hot dog, I missed most of the pre-mass Concert of Hope.I did get to see most of it on the TV behind the concession stand! The only lines worse than the food lines were the lines for the ladies room. I know that because the ladies were even lined up outside the men’s rooms stalls! It’s a little difficult to be a gentleman and, you should excuse the expression, let ladies go first *ahem* when you have to go too!

I got back to my seat in time for the Benedict’s entrance via Popemobile to great cheering and applause. Interestingly, the Pope and Cardinal Egan were taken into the dugout (was it the home or visitors? Hmm…) to vest for the mass. They joined the processional several minutes later.

The mass itself was serenely beautiful. The readings were appropriate not only for the 5th Sunday if Easter, but for the Pope’s final mass on his apostolic journey to the United States. They really summed up what the Catholic Church is all about. The Pope’s homily brought out so clearly the teaching of the Scriptures and the theme of the mass.I’m sure my old Southwestern Baptist seminary preaching professors would have given it high marks indeed! Right, Dr. Fasol?

The music was excellent. It modeled what liturgical music should be: beautiful classical pieces, some basic chant, use of several languages in a way that fits the liturgy. Not to mention well-performed! Solo Deo Gratia! Let’s not forget the beautifully chanted Gospel. None of the insipid, stultifying music so common in parish masses today. You know what I mean.

I have heard some disparaging comments regarding the music at the Nationals Stadium mass. From what little I have seen, I think it important to keep in mind that mass was a votive mass of the Holy Spirit, so there was a Pentecostal theme (I mean the Holy Day, not necessarily the denomination!). It was also a weekday mass. So I think there was more room in that mass for music that might not be appropriate for a Sunday liturgy.

The Holy Father has returned to Rome. While his apostolic visit was so moving, profound and celebratory in every way, I think I can safely say it’s good that it’s over! Now we can begin the hard but necessary work of reflecting and meditating on his words and example. Let’s us imitate Pope Benedict XVI as he imitates Christ.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lost in Yonkers with Pope Bendict XVI

I attended today's Youth Rally with Pope Benedict XVI in Yonkers, NY--if someone my age can attend a youth rally! Getting there was indeed half the fun! Traffic wasn't too bad considering how much of it there was! So as I sat in traffic I said a prayer to the Blessed Mother asking her to get me to the rally in time. No surprise, I made it! At the merchandise booth a Yonkers police officer asked me how traffic was. I told him about my prayer and it's good result. He got a nice chuckle out of it.

The rally was tremendous. If you watched the coverage, especially on EWTN, you saw the main field with the stage at one end and the media at the other. Up the hill from there across a one-lane path was another field with the food and merchandise concessions. There was a large TV screen there, but no audio. Next to that field there was an adoration chapel and several areas with priests hearing confession.

Security definitely tightened up once the Pope arrived. People who left the main field to get food, for example, found that they couldn't get back. Since the video screen didn't have audio I could only hear what drifted over from the main field. Even so Pope Benedict was clearly enjoying himself. I'd say he smiled more than I've seen in any other event so far. And I thought Kelly Clarkson did a fine job singing Schubert's "Ave Maria".