1) I want to repeat what I said above – everything I saw and heard indicated to me that the participants in the Mass at Nationals Stadium had a very prayerful experience, were nourished by the Holy Father’s homily, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and are truly renewed in their faith. I found myself wishing I had been there!
2) The music for this liturgy is being discussed all over the place – NLM, FR Z and other places. I am not equipped to get into the technicalities, so I’ll just say this.
The core problem with this liturgy was that it had such a heavy performance vibe to it. Commenters have called it a “review” and I think that’s apt. I don’t want to make the multiculturalism the center of any critique myself. I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that, for example, after the Holy Father intoned the Doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, what happened next? A solemnly chanted “Amen” fitting in with what he had just done?
No – we get freakin’ trumpets – the same trumpets that preceded all three of the Mass parts used from the Mass of Creation.
There was a bombastic, almost frenzied sensibility, as various musical styles were pulled in, Cantor A was replaced by Cantor B and every Mass part had to be introduced by overwhelming musical stylings of someone.
I am not sure how, exactly, one could pull of a Mass in a stadium with 50,000 or so people without making it big in this sense. I don’t know if there is a bigness possible that would pull everyone present into the ritual while at the same time respecting the fact that this is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not Talent Night At St. Hippodrome’s. Someone can, perhaps enlighten me on that score.
And two final nits to pick. If I were to do anything to shift gears in liturgies like this, I would a) dispense with cantors, completely. People have books. They can figure it out. And b) I would have the deacon chant the Gospel. There is an incredible power and focus that resonates when the Gospel is chanted.
Here’s the thing. Cardinal Ratzinger’s writing on liturgy has been characterized by a concern about retrieving the vertical dimension of liturgy – for it is only when the vertical element of liturgy is clear that we can then comprehend the true nature of the horizontal dimension – that when we all grasp our relation to God, we better grasp our relations to each other, made all the more powerful because we know that those ties that bind us come from God. In Christ, we are one Body.
But this liturgy was very much oriented to the horizontal, from Archbishop Wuerl’s welcome, which celebrated the diversity of the cultures present, to the endless performances of different styles with overwhelming and overdramatic instrumentation.
I am at the point where I want to say:
Right. I’m an American Catholic, which means I’m diverse, free, generous and enthusiastic. I GET IT! Can we move on now?