Friday, April 18, 2008

Further Reactions & Commentary on the Washington Mass / Mess

  • To all those who protested the music, Vox Nova thinks you're a bunch of sour grapes:
    Of course, for the few hundred grumpy online Catholics full of sour grapes, there is the great multitude of faithful Catholics, who love the Pope, who love the Pope’s coming to America, and have taken in the greatness of such a wonderful event.

    At the mass, one could hear non-Catholic protesters with loudspeakers. They were trying to interrupt the mass. Online, we had Catholic trying to do the same. Since both thought they knew the way of faith greater than the Pope, can someone tell me what separates the two of them?

  • "Latin Rite Catholics should be spared from appeals to rank tribalism", says Rich Leonardi (Ten Reasons):
    I'm blessed with an extended family that traces its ancestral roots to at least three continents. The notion that my African-American niece should automatically feel an affinity for Jazz, or my Asian-American sister-in-law ought to perk up over a prayer given in Tagalog, is offensive and condescending. It is no different than a parish worship commission asking me, an Italian-American, if I would like to see a performance of the Tarantella at the next Mass.
  • Fr. Rob Johansen (Thrown Back) reigns in some of the more strident protestors (and dispels a few conspiracy theories alog the way):
    Firstly, I was taken aback by the sheer violence and passion of the reaction from the supporters of the Reform of the Reform and Traditional liturgy. I'm not here speaking so much of Shawn Tribe and the people at NLM, nor of Fr. Zuhlsdorf at "What Does the Prayer Really Say?". Their commentary has been measured and quite insightful. No, I am speaking of the many commentors at both sites (Some 300 at NLM alone!). I gathered from many of the comments on the above mentioned sites that people were shocked and surprised by what they saw and heard. I can't see why anyone should have been surprised - the music selected for the Mass was announced almost three weeks ago. I don't get the shock: the organizers of the DC Mass reveled three weeks ago that they intended to present a mish-mash, or, again in Fr. Neuhaus' inimitable words, a "liturgical stew". And that's precisely what they did.

  • "Critics vs. the critics of the critics", by the Cranky Conservative:
    I recognized that the music was . . . not good. It didn’t escape my attention. But I am learning as time goes on not to let that sort of thing bother me. We can’t be critics while we’re at Mass. It’s not a performance - it’s Mass. Sure, there are some who seemingly want to make it more of a performance, but those are battles to be fought at other times. Quite frankly I was much more bothered by the idiots shouting into their megaphones about the whore of Babylon than I was by the awkward musical setting of the responsorial psalm. It was much more saddened by the hatred I was hearing outside than the perhaps awkward expressions of love I was hearing inside.

    That said, I can certainly sympathize with the critics, especially those who feel that the musical selections were a complete slap in the face to the Pope. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt and hope that those who planned the Mass were in no way really trying to “send a message.” We don’t know that the Pope was displeased. I’m sure he knew what to expect. And even though the Pope prefers a more traditional setting - as do I - I’m sure he was and is ecstatic to see so many joy-filled and faithful Catholics joined together. In a world where so much is going wrong, 50,000 people getting together and joining in the Eucharist is an occasion for joy, no matter what might be blaring over the loudspeakers.

    In the long run, liturgy matters. It is not inappropriate to have a discussion about the liturgy and the musical selections and other things which do detract from the full meaning of our liturgy. It’s certainly questionable as to whether multilingual Masses do more to fracture than to unite us. . . .

    I guess this is all a long way of saying that while I was moved and uplifted by the Papal Mass, we can’t ignore the deeper issue of how we celebrate the Holy Eucharist in America. Asking that any discussion be civilized and respectful should go without saying. Sadly, it will probably go without so doing.

Some quick thoughts:
  • With regards to how the liturgy ought to be performed and also in terms of the musical selections, we have over a decade of writings from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to draw from, most prominent of which is The Spirit of the Liturgy).
  • Certain aspects of the Nationals Park Mass fell far, far short of what the Holy Father probably would have desired (therein lies the motivation for the more reasonable of the complaints).
  • As Msgr. Marini indicated last month, while cognisant of what was being done, the Vatican opted to take a "hand's off" approach:
    Early in the planning process for a papal trip, the monsignor said, his office sends the local church a set of guidelines, which is “substantially the same” as the set developed during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

    “A few small things were modified to reflect the liturgical attitudes of Pope Benedict,” he said; they include a request that a crucifix be placed on the altar for eucharistic celebrations, that concelebrating priests be as close to the altar as possible and that the offertory gifts be limited to the bread, wine and charitable gifts.

    Msgr. Marini said the Vatican did not dictate the choice of music and hymns for the U.S. liturgies.

    One could speculate as to why Marini chose not to assert more control over what was chosen — in such cases, I think it’s best to relenquish top-down control to those properly delegated at the local level. As Henry points out Benedict did indeed "clap his hands" to one of the performances, but I'm not sure one could posit that this is, indeed, what he would have preferred.

    Fr. Neuhaus sums it up:

    When over the years one has been present at papal events beyond numbering, one inevitably develops a measure of critical distance in which even mildly critical comments can clash with the intense piety of many of the Catholic faithful. Anything short of all-Wow!-all-the-time is taken as a sign of insufficient enthusiasm.