Benedict XVI on vast, outdoor Masses: “there is a problem”

Paolo Rodari of Il riformista has an interesting piece about the Pope reaction to a question put to him during his recent meeting with the clergy of Rome.  The question was about the problem of the huge outdoor Masses which became a norm during the pontificate of John Paul II.

Here is Rodari’s piece, in my translation, with my emphases and comments.

That the papal liturgies are changing enormously, also thanks to the arrival of the Pope’s new Master of Ceremonies, the Ligurian of the [late Card.] Siri school, Msgr. Guido Marini, is something well-known.  Behind Marini, of course, is the Pope, for whom the liturgy of all time is to be celebrated in a new way (which as a matter of fact hasn’t been done for a long time), that is, faithfully following the rules – regardless of ‘old’ or new’ Missal – so as to offer a dignified whole that is respectful of what is taking place.

As a case in point, the Pontiff spoke about this a few days ago (7 Feb) in the traditional and purposely spontaneous parry and riposte which, as happens every year at the beginning of Lent, takes place behind closed doors between him and the priests and deacons of Rome.

Among the ten questions presented to Ratzinger, one was dedicated to Masses celebrated with huge crowds, those which – to be clear – more and more became the established practice during the pontificate of John Paul II. Those which, still, for logistical reasons are for example ever more frequent for spiritual retreats and large ecclesial movements.

The Pope listened in silence to the question offered to him, responded, and then in the following days, made an important decision about it.

But let’s be orderly.  The question put to the Pontiff was unimpeachable in its formulation and went like this: "How do we reconcile the treasure of the liturgy in all its solemnity and with the sentiment, emotion and excitment of masses of young people called to participate in it?"  Benedict XVI responded immediately that, in effect, there is a problem: "Liturgy in which masses of people participate", he said, "is a big problem."

[This part is fascinating.] The Pope recalled that everything began with a question presented in 1960 during a large International Eucharistic Congress at Munich, about how there could be the celebration of the Eucharist also at such events.  To adore, it was said at Munich, can be done also at a distance, but to celebrate a limited community is necessary which can interact with the mystery.  At Munich many expressed negative opinions regarding the hypothesis of celebrations of the Eucharist in the open, even with one hundred thousand people or more.  But it was the Austrian liturgist Josef Andreas Jungmann, one of the architects of the liturgical reform, who created "the concept of ‘statio orbis‘" and thus legitimated celebrations as vast as oceans: in substance, if there exists the "statio Romae", and thus the place where the faithful gather to then go together to the Eucharist, so then there can exist also (and this is the case with Eucharistic Congresses), a "statio orbis", the gathering place of the world.  [And some critics of Pope Benedict's liturgical decisions have made the dopey comment that he isn't a "trained liturgist".  But he knew this and had it at the tip of his tongue during a Q&A.]

It is thanks to Jungmann, therefore, that today there are large Mass celebrations.  Even so, for Ratzinger, these represent a problem for which a definitive response – as he said himself on 7 February last – "has not yet been found" also because, "if there concelebrate, for example, a thousand priests, you don’t know if this is the structure the Lord wanted."  [KABOOM!  This is the key.  Pope Ratzinger fishes the whole question out of the soup of pragmatism and brings it back to Christ's will.  As Pope, Benedict must concern himself primarily with what God wills before he makes practical decisions.  So, the question is no on the floor: are these mass Masses a good response to the reality of large crowds who want to be with the Pope?  Should Communion and concelebration, perhaps, be more limited?]

In the meantime, the Pope said, there is needed at least to find "a certain style to preserve the dignity that is always necessary for the Eucharist.[Well... they haven't done a very good job so far.] In the last large mass celebrations at which Ratzinger participated, for example at the recent gathering at Loreto, all these problems with these celebrations were present and the situation, he said, "didn’t depend on me, but rather on those who were tasked with the preparation".

And so, there is the solution, for now only partial, but nevertheless necessary, in view of the upcoming ocean-sized Masses: for two occasions on the apostolic visit to the United States (on 17 April in the new Nationals Park and 20 April at Yankee Stadium in New York) and those foreseen for World Youth Day in Sydney.  In the USA and Australia, the Pope decided not to delegate any longer the organization of celebrations to third parties.  And so he asked that, in the next days, that his Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, should fly across the oceans (both the Pacific and Atlantic) with the precise task of studying the locations to be used for the liturgical functions with the end of taking on direct responsibility for carrying out celebrations in those spaces; that the result might be Masses that are as vast as oceans, but at least characterized as much as possible with composure and discipline.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

113 Responses to Benedict XVI on vast, outdoor Masses: “there is a problem”

  1. Ruthy Lapeyre says:

    So glad to hear this! My God child is going to Sydney and the priest who is the spiritual director of this group of young people who are going will be very glad as well. Some one actually said the Pope was not a trained liturgist!? Well, maybe it depends on what is meant by the word “trained.” Perhaps they want to say, The Pope is not a brainwashed liturgist. And I say thanks be to God!

  2. T Erasmus says:

    Our pope is brilliant! What more could us Catholics ask for than a man who understands theology and then can express it in the most simple and endearing terms for the faithful? His reverence for God and His will supersedes any present needs for pragmatism or convenience. How welcome is the truth.

  3. Mike says:

    I have partcipated in a few of these mass Masses as referred to in the article and I absolutely felt they were composed and disciplined. I also KNOW that Our Lord was there, that Calvary was there. These were moving and spiritual momemnts for me. To celebrate the Lord’s Supper and at the same time to be with our Holy Father, God willing, the soon to be Saint John Paul II, the Great!

  4. FHC says:

    I guess I just chuckled inside thinking about Msgr. Marini studying Yankee Stadium as a site for a Papal Mass. “Hummmmm. What is this? White square like things? A mound in the middle? Statues of what saint….Babe Ruth? Hummmm. Definitely meets the vast as an ocean requirement, yes……hummmmmmmmm. May be a bit tricky to do composure and dignity. Kneeling looks to be out as an option. Interesting organ. How’s the weather here?…..Hummmmmm.”

  5. Serafino says:

    I am not a fan of con-celebrated Masses in the first place, with the exception of Masses of Ordination and the Chrism Mass at which the bishop presides. In is interesting to note, that the code of canon law does not require a priest to con-celebrate Mass. Each priest retains the right to celebrate his own Mass.

    Secondly, having assisted on more than several occasions in the administration of Holy Communion during the outdoor “Mega Masses” of John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square, I can assure you, it was less than edifying.

    In one particular group of Americans, there were young people chewing gum, drinking soda, laughing and talking as they approached to receive Holy Communion. They were jumping all over each other in an attempt to “grab” the Blessed Sacrament from my hands.

    It is interesting to note, that when Mass is celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter’s, I have never noted these abuses. I would suggest, that the Holy Father end these outdoor “Mega Masses”, and celebrate in a Sacred Place.

  6. Are we going to see an eventual move away from these dreadful mass mob concelebrations in the open? It has to be said that for all his great virtues it was John Paul II who really popularised the practice, under the direction of Piero Marini.

  7. Gregor says:

    In case someone is interested, I have posted a translation of Pope Benedict’s entire answer over at the New Liturgical Movement last Sunday: http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/2008/02/pope-benedict-on-masses-with-multitudes.html.

    As for what Rodari says regarding the Pope’s solution, I think this is just Rodari’s interpretation: the papal MC has always been closely involved with the the liturgical celebrations also on the pope’s trips.

  8. Prof. Basto says:

    LONG LIVE THE POPE!

  9. PBXVI says:

    Im in ur liturgee curbin ur abyoosez.

  10. Jeff Pinyan says:

    PBXVI – Comedy gold. I hope the other people reading WDTPRS know the meme you’re using.

  11. Fr. Michael says:

    “We won”. Please. That’s not the point. A little Christian dignity to all this, I beg.

    I don’t know where I stand on this. I agree with Pope Benedict’s desire to ensure the solemnity of the liturgy. But surely we can admit the good fruit that came from these amazingly large outdoor Masses.

    How does one reconcile these?

    “you don’t know if this is the structure the Lord wanted”. Well, come on. What does that mean really? Did the Lord want freestanding altars, people facing East, naves, pews, kneelers? It was an upper room with couches/pillows as was customary in Christ’s day and age.

    Lastly, what role does the Scriptural example of the feeding of the multitude play in this?

    Thanks, Fr., Z for your post.

  12. Angelo says:

    Fr. Michael

    “Lastly, what role does the Scriptural example of the feeding of the multitude play in this?”

    Absolutely nothing.

  13. Stephen says:

    Fr Michael,
    my thoughts exactly. Surely it is not the size of the congregation but rather the need to educate those participating that counts. If the liturgical reforms come to fruition and we begin to see a more dignified silent presence at the Holy Sacrifice-especially in the ordinary form, then surely this will eventually translate into these huge gatherings, which in a sense do mirror the great miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. I find it difficult to see that God would not want to see these Masses continue. One final thought. Doesnt the world youth day bring into sharp focus the universality of the Church gathered around Peter?
    Stephen

  14. jim veryser says:

    Our Holy Father is appointed as chief Shepherd to protect his flock from error. I trust his judgement on this issue. I love my “German Shepherd”!

  15. Michael says:

    Mike,

    I think what you describe is precisely the situation Benedict want’t to avoid. There was a sense at those Masses that people were gathered at Mass to be near the Pope, not the Lord. He was being called John Paul the Great years before he had even died, a title that can hardly be assigned to him at this point in time, since we don’t know whether his legacy will indeed be greater than all of those great and saintly popes who were never given that title. A priest friend of mine remembers distributing communion at one such WYD Mass, and remembers vividly the dozens of teenagers climbing over top of each other, trying to grab a host consecrated by JPII. One of the major newspapers came out with a story shortly after the pope’s funeral about John Paul’s first “miracle.” A man claimed to have been healed by a host JPII had consecrated. That the Blessed Sacrament’s association with the John-Paul was the most important thing to these people is disturbing to say the least. John Paul had become a rock star long before he died. People were coming to see him, John Paul the Great, and a cult of his personality developed. In the true spirit of humility, Benedict wants these masses of young people to see the Lord when they assist at Mass, not “Benedict the Great”. Seated in his throne, he wants them to see the Vicar of Christ, not Joseph Ratzinger.

  16. jim veryser says:

    Our Holy Father has been appointed as Chief Shepherd to protect us- his flock.
    We need to trust his judgement on this issue. I love my German Shepherd!

  17. J Basil Damukaitis says:

    Gang:
    I was part of the papal liturgy in St. Louis in 1999. What is happening now is NO DIFFERENT than what Piero Marini did. I remember bumping into Abp. Marini and Abp. Rigali at our Cathedral. Piero M was a very precise man and nothing escaped his planning or his eye. This is NOT a change in the way things have been done. The change is in the person actually doing it!

  18. Gregor says:

    Fr Michael, Stephen,

    if you read what the actually pope said (see: http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/2008/02/pope-benedict-on-masses-with-multitudes.html), you will find that he didn’t just say there is a problem, but actually gave reasons for that and gave more context.

  19. Franklin says:

    Seems to me that Jesus celebrated with the ‘masses’ in large outdoor settings when he multipled the bread and fishes. Don’t get so hung up on the place that you miss the message and the Holy Spirit. If you lived in 32 AD would you go to the hillside to seek grace or would you wait in the Temple waiting for grace to seek you? Pray about it.

  20. chris says:

    I agree with Pope Benedict’s desire to ensure the solemnity of the liturgy. But surely we can admit the good fruit that came from these amazingly large outdoor Masses.

    Also my thoughts as I read through some of the comments.

    It used to be that anyone could enter almost any parish in the world, witness a mass and inhale a universal Catholic church/faith. Once that disappeared with so many parishes appearing as just another local protestant church with various personal expressions being emphasized over the universal connection, it seemed that the world as well as those who no longer would experience this One Holy Catholic expression needed to see, through the Holy Father, what they would not see at home. Really, JPII was attempting to reach out and hold on to a world which was rapidly falling away during a real time of crisis. Great graces were given during that time. Now people must decide on just how seriously they wish to continue and Benedict is refining those “missioned” by his predecessor so that shallow roots may grow deeper.

  21. EDG says:

    I think he’s giving these large masses one last chance, so to speak. As many people here have pointed out, there can be positive aspects to them; but as an equal number of others have pointed out, the focus is often not on the Eucharist, and the whole thing becomes just another meaningless super-event. It will be interesting to see what he does to try to deal with this problem and re-focus these events. These two in the US are probably a sort of test, and if he can’t get them to his satisfaction, it sounds as if he is prepared to reduce or even eliminate them in the future.

  22. Gregor says:

    J Basil Damukaitis:

    exactly, this was what I had been trying to say above.

  23. The question of vast crowds is all about the worthy celebration of Mass.

    There is a distinction between :

    Christ feeding the Five Thousand (to whom he had been preaching in a field).
    The Last Supper (held only with the apostles)
    The Crucifixion (when Christ, alone, offered himself on the Cross).

  24. Fr. N says:

    I was a “communion priest” at St. Peter’s twice in 2000. I distributed the Body of Christ in the crowd. It was not very edifying, despite good intentions. Once, at another Mass there, I saw lady hand the Host over her head to other people to give to someone behind her. Then she took another. This was not about Christ. This was about … well, I don’t know. I hope the “mass Mass”
    disappears, or at least the “mass Communion” in these situations. Viva il papa!

  25. Franklin: …Jesus celebrated with the ‘masses’ in large outdoor settings when he multipled the bread and fishes.

    Nooo… what Jesus did before the Last Supper, which was the first Mass, was obvious not Mass.  Also, when Jesus fed the “masses” by multiplying loaves and fishes we was not “celebrating” with them.  Go back and read the accounts in the Gospels.  These were not celebrations.

  26. jaykay says:

    Franklin: “Don’t get so hung up on the place that you miss the message and the Holy Spirit.”

    Ummm, Franklin, as others have pointed out above, Jesus was very obviously not offering the Eucharist at the feeding of the five thousand. It wasn’t a “celebration” either (much overused term in any event). It was a very practical feeding exercise at the end of the day, after His teaching. Again, not a “celebration”.

    And the very obvious danger of “the place”, in its sheer size, is that people will “miss the message” – the “message” being the Mass and adoration of the Lord, not of each other in some feel-good frenzy.

    Perhaps you oughtn’t to get so hung up that you miss the meaning of the thread.

  27. Franklin says:

    At any celebration of the Body and Blood there will be those who do not understand nor are spiritually prepared to receive. The debate should not be about the quantity of the numbers gathered rather than the quality of the preparation of those gathered. I have seen at,Mass where only 20 are gathered, disrespect and ignorance but also such devotion that it almost brought me to tears.

    Of course there are difference between the sermons, the last supper, and the passion. The point is, that I do not believe Jesus would withhold himself from any gathering in his name. Either you believe in the Full Presence or you don’t. Either you believe that Jesus is fully present and that others actions or inactions cannot drive him away from the host or you don’t. Either this is real or it is just a symbolic gesture.

  28. Fr. Michael says:

    Fr. Z.,

    What was the encounter on the Road to Emmaeus?
    Breakfast with a charcoal fire with the disciples?

    Clearly, they weren’t “the Mass”. But we must be careful (lest we mislead those weaker in faith) when we refer to the Last Supper as the first “Mass”. That one word stirs up various meanings. We can certainly agree (dear God I hope so) that those encounters, including the feeding of the multitude were Eucharistic.

    God Bless.

  29. jaykay says:

    What was the encounter on the Road to Emmaeus?
    Breakfast with a charcoal fire with the disciples?

    They were encounters with the Lord, Fr., but they weren\’t Eucharists. The Lord might appear to me, as he has appeared to many, but that is not the same as my eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

  30. Brian Mershon says:

    “full” presence? Huh?

    Transubstantiation, yes. Lutherans and Anglicans also believe in the “real presence.” But “full” presence? Perhaps I’m misinformed?

  31. Matt says:

    I have to disagree Fr. Michael.

    Clearly, reading John 6, the miracle of the loaves was but a sign of the
    greater miracle of the Last Supper. It most definitely NOT a Mass.
    (Most of those present were not baptized, and almost all of them
    abandoned Our Lord shortly after this miracle as accounted in John 6).
    In fact, Our Lord openly lamented that the people were only interested
    in the earthly bread, not the true “bread from heaven” that the feeding
    pointed to.

    The Last Supper was the first Mass.

  32. Fr. Michael says:

    I didn’t say the feeding of the multitude was a Mass. I deliberately wrote that those encounters were NOT Masses, but were certainly Eucharistic. Sheesh louise.

    Read Fr. Meier’s books (whose work was hailed as exemplary by this Pope)and you’ll see that Scripture scholars are very clear, esp. in the Johannine material, that these encounters were Eucharistic (note the “ic” at the end of that word).

    Point being: these eucharistic encounters should INFORM our Mass. The model Jesus offers for table fellowship needs to INFORM how we approach the Mass.

    But these are points that should (and I’m sure Fr. Z., is hoping will) lead us back to the main topic at hand —- Yankee Stadium Mass. I don’t think one can discern “what God wants” based on the one Last Supper event. One has to take the biblical tradition into account as a whole.

    God Bless.

  33. michigancatholic says:

    Excellent. Benedict is brilliant and learned well during the pontificate of PJPII. These “planners” that regional groups arrange cannot be trusted.

  34. michigancatholic says:

    Pope Benedict is probably aware, having been a teacher, that the great majority of people are not intellectual in orientation. They learn only visually and cannot comprehend aberrations they see for what they are, no matter how carefully they are pointed out in language. They just don’t connect this stuff.

    Therefore, he knows that if you want the mass said correctly, then those who say the mass and attend the mass must see it done correctly. It is the only way to teach people.

    He knows that PJPII was undermined constantly, even though PJPII didn’t seem to grasp it most of the time. I suspect that PJPII lived so much in his world of ideas that he thought he was speaking clearly and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being heard. People loved him, but just plain didn’t understand much of what he said. It’s why his central thread, Theology of hte Body, made such a splash in the documents, but the birth control rates just went up and up anyway. [We currently have birth control & abortion rates that are virtually indistinguishable from the general population regardless of what is written about what we should think about.]

    Pope Benedict has better handle on this than most, I believe, not because he isn’t cerebral but because he is cerebral PLUS. He understands the church and is an exemplary teacher to boot, and thus gets the pedogogy of teaching on a bunch of different levels.

    One cannot allow people to see again what was seen on many occasions in the past: sacrileges occuring openly in big crowds, etc etc. whether from the planners, liturgical ministers or from groups in the crowd. It’s the responsibility of the celebrant to make it a sacrifice suitable for the mass as far as possible. He is aware of that and he is thinking of it in terms of peoples’ needs all around. This pope is excellent, absolutely superb.

  35. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr.Michael: I’m trying to follow your line of thinking. What the hell is “table fellowship”?

  36. michigancatholic says:

    Fr. Michael,

    This is not about “table fellowship.” This is about the Mass which is first and foremost a sacrifice. Yes, the mass has a formal meal aspect, but it should never resemble a casual meal, nor is the altar ever merely a table.

    May I remind you that among the first of the pre-figures of the sacrifice of the mass were the sacrificial offerings of animals in the Torah, the first 5 books of the OT canon. Those were formal ritual events, wherein animals were sacrificed for the sins of the people, and yes ritual portions were consumed, but these events were not ever merely meals. Not. Ever. Never.

    I can’t imagine that you are ignorant of this, but Christ replaced the lambs in the OT with himself in the NT, at the beginning of the new covenant which ADDS to the old, superimposing new meaning upon it but not doing away with it. This replacement is a seamless replacement, being a superimposition, so that we have an unbloody sacrifice and Christ offers himself for our sins in the place of the lambs. The whole universe revolves around this.

    So, even the people who had come to see Jesus at the “loaves and fishes” event knew they were not at home having a casual snack on any old day. Especially after he produced the loaves and fishes for them. In fact, this thronging to Christ for what only he could give, and the act of feeding them in their need and ignorance from his power displayed in his care and sacrifice for them on that day, serves as a prefigure of the sacrifice of the mass. That’s why it’s recounted in the NT. It’s not just a ‘nice story’ for “table fellowship” and neighborly amusement. Got it?

    You seem to have missed about 9/10 of the meaning of that event. Amazing.

  37. Fr. Michael: What was the encounter on the Road to Emmaeus?… Clearly, they weren’t “the Mass”.

    “It is you who have said it.”

    But we must be careful (lest we mislead those weaker in faith) when we refer to the Last Supper as the first “Mass”. That one word stirs up various meanings.



    And we must be careful not to confuse people by saying that the Last Supper wasn’t  the first Mass, because it was.   For the first time Christ changes bread and wine into His own Body and Blood.   That is what happens at Mass.   I will grant that, as the first Mass, with Christ Himself in the flesh before His Passion acting as the High Priest, it was a unique Mass, but it was Mass.  



    We can certainly agree (dear God I hope so) that those encounters, including the feeding of the multitude were Eucharistic.

    Okay.  All those other times of feeding the multitudes were “Eucharistic” in some way, but they weren’t Mass. I don’t know what the Emmaus encounter with the Lord was, but it was clearly.”Eucharistic”. 

  38. The Last Supper (the Wedding Banquet) with Calvary (the Consummation, so to speak, of that marriage of Christ with His Bride, the Church), was the First, Last and only Mass which we offer.

    The question is, how can we offer the Holy Sacrifice in the best way, participating with active reception (and, for the priest, in Persona Christi). THAT should be an easy question to answer: The Holy Father’s Marshall Plan leads the way!

  39. michigancatholic says:

    Mind you, the “loaves and fishes” segment was NOT a mass. It was a PRE-FIGURE of the mass. There are many of these throughout the OT and the NT. Another notable one is found in the Passover narrative in the OT. But it also was NOT a mass.

    The first mass was, as Fr. Z points out, on Holy Thursday just hours before Christ was arrested. It was a culmination pointing to the future, in a very scriptural style.

    My mind is boggled by this whole discussion. You know, scripture isn’t like a cookbook, where you can pick up the text, point to page x and say this is the only recipe I like, so this is it, the rest doesn’t matter. All of scripture has to be taken together. The previous informs the proximate. Salvation history builds through time and when you fail to understand the meaning of the past, you lose the meaning of the present.

    So, Fr. Michael, you can’t just up and decide to have some “table fellowship.” It doesn’t work that way. At. All.

  40. Fr. Michael: But these are points that should (and I’m sure Fr. Z., is hoping will) lead us back to the main topic at hand——Yankee Stadium Mass. I don’t think one can discern “what God wants” based on the one Last Supper event. One has to take the biblical tradition into account as a whole.

    When it comes to celebration of Mass I think we have to take the whole liturgical tradition into account .

    I am not wild about these huge Masses, which are really unknown in the history of the Church until very recently.  Certainly the idea of distributing Holy Communion to so many is a thing unthought of, unimagined, until recently.  It is a wild innovation, in many ways.

    Outdoor Masses, though odd, are at least acceptable so long as there are structures like a baldachino of some sort.  Let’s leave aside special situations like Mass on the hoods of jeeps in time of war or forward deployment.

    I can’t get my head around large numbers of priests celebrating and consecrating at a great distance from the altar. I struggle with Masses for large numbers of people wherein an attempt is made to distribute Communion to everyone. 

    Frankly, I think concelebration in any number should in the Novus Ordo be safe, legal and rare.  I really think we must get rid of this idea that everyone has to go to Communion at every Mass.

    Frequent Communion in the state of grace is wonderful and should be possible.  But there are times when it is acceptable for a person to participate actively at Holy Mass without receiving Communion.  That participation might not be the perfection of active participation (which is the reception of Communion in the state of grace), but it is not nothing.

    So by all means, let’s have the big stadium Mass (though I wish it were at Shea Stadium or any other stadium and not … grrr… Yankee Stadium).  However, I would recommend to His Holiness and his Master of Ceremonies that there be a placed a reasonably low limit on the number of concelebrants (if there really have to be any at all) and therefore also a very small number of communicants.  Then use the Mass as an opportunity to make clear the Church’s teaching about Communion in the state of grace and the possibility of “spiritual Communions” when physical reception isn’t possible.

  41. Matt says:

    Fr. Michael,

    I agree with your point, but I was responding to the issue you had with
    calling the Last Supper “the first Mass”. Why have an issue with that?
    The miracles you mention do point to the Eucharist, but they are not models
    of how to celebrate the New Coventant “Todah”…this clearly
    comes from Our Lord via Apostolic Tradition instead.

    There is no precedent for mega masses in Apostolic Tradition (kind of hard
    to have an outdoor mega mass, when even Catechumens were not allowed
    to partake or observe the “divine mysteries”), The
    Early Church would not have countenanced the sacrifice as being a
    table-fellowship much less as a public statement of faith to the world
    (quite the opposite of JPII era).
    There is present the eshatological aspect of the heavenly banquet, but the
    whole modern table-fellowship idea originates in late Medieval protestantism.

    We can debate the mega Mass being a development of sorts, but then it is a
    question of prudence, given its logistical challenges and the opportunities for
    serious liturgical abuses to occur.

    I was at WYD 1991, 1993 and 2000. In each case, the logistics of the Mass
    in my view far outweighed the benefit. There were fatalities at each of those
    events due to people (some of them young) becoming dehydrated in the hot sun with
    at times gravely inadequate facilities for that size of crowd (picked up
    each time by the eager media).

    The “vigil” if it can be called that (by WYD 2000 it was more of a protestant
    style entertainment event–with the Pope as MC-and yes one highlight was a
    rendition of Kumbaya by an American evangelical “worship group” using modern
    hip-hop beat) always turned into a “cuddle party” of sorts with the teens
    spending the night so tightly packed together-I liked this when I was 17,
    but hardly edifying for my own character. Besides at all three WYD we were
    sitting too far from a speaker to hear ANY of what was going on. Even during
    the Mass a good portion of the “audience” could not hear a single word, or see
    what part of the liturgy was taking place, much
    less “participate”.

    WYD 2000 was also the world’s largest wet-t contest….as the crowd
    had to be hosed down in the 42 degree weather. Mud was also everywhere.

    This was a logistical nightmare each time, and in retrospect hardly
    edifying (though as a young person I thought it was cool) by
    the age of 25 I knew it was a giant showcase of a sham and
    something I would never expose my kids to.

    Please Lord, no more JPII Potemkin Villages.

  42. RBrown says:

    I find it difficult to see that God would not want to see these Masses continue.
    Comment by Stephen

    What a strange thing to say.

  43. jaykay says:

    Just as regards Fr. Michael\’s last few comments: yes, Father, I did understand you to say that \”Eucharistic\” is an adjective and that it was used in that sense in your earlier comment about Emmaus etc. But what if one doesn\’t agree with the scripture scholars? Opinions, certainly, and very informed ones but I still wouldn\’t go along entirely. That said, I must read up on that point and thanks for the pointer.

    \”I don’t think one can discern “what God wants” based on the one Last Supper event.\”

    Well, is this in relation to the Mass in general or to the public event in New York, which is what the thread is about? Really the two can\’t be dissociated, then, because it can be assumed that God does want reverence in each and every Mass as befitting the Sacrifice offered. Since the Last Supper was a model of reverence then surely one can very well assume that we should actively plan for a fitting sense of reverence at every Mass, small, big or mega. And it can be done at the mega ones but it\’s just much more difficult. Catechesis beforehand is clearly what’s needed.

    A lot of it, if some of my experiences of these events are anything to go by

  44. Christine says:

    I thougth Emmaus was a Mass. First He explained the Scriptures and then HE blessed and broke the Bread and He disappeared and they recognized Him. Very strange, but clearly not the same as the fish fry on the shore of the lake. The one thing that is clear about Emmaus is that it is not a massive group of people, as in the feeding of the 5,000 and it is after the Resurrection.

  45. michigancatholic says:

    Fr. Z,

    You’ve brought up another issue that people also generally don’t want to talk about. When going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion involves showing up at a building and going inside to hear the Mass in its entirety, not so many people will simply stroll through and miss the meaning of the whole thing or make mistakes about whether they should receive Holy Communion and so on. [Well, maybe with the exception of Christmas eve & Easter Sunday, another topic.]

    In large outdoor groups, such as the throng one usually sees in St. Peter’s square during a special event, there are many people who come, bless their hearts but don’t belong to the church and don’t understand what’s going on. Sometimes whole tourist groups show up as part of the tour and get involved. I’ve been there and I know it happens.

    This kind of thing shouldn’t be part of the liturgy.

    I mean non-Catholics are certainly welcome to come, but they need to be aware that it’s not just a party or merely a warm and cozy event that they can take in on their own terms and then walk away from. I don’t know how else to put this.

  46. Prof. Basto says:

    Fr. Michael, citing Pope Benedict in the quote: “you don’t know if this is the structure the Lord wanted”. Well, come on. What does that mean really?

    Father, with all due respect, that is no way to refer to a statement by the Roman Pontiff. It is scandalous that a member of the Catholic clergy tells the Pope to “come on”, as if the said clergyman were attemping to ridicule the Apostolic statement.

  47. Deborah says:

    Unless there are drastic changes in the WYD schedule plans it is impossible to drop the large outdoor Sunday Holy Mass. We sleep outdoors on Saturday night to Sunday and obviously need to fulfill our Sunday obligation.

    I agree with Fr. Z, there should be a spiritual Communion made by the pilgrims rather than knowing for certain that Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament will be disrespected when given out en masse.

  48. michigancatholic says:

    Christine,

    I’m not sure whether one would call Emmaus a mass or not.

    Remember that a Mass is more than just having the pieces. As I pointed out above, pre-figures of the mass involve formality and structure of a certain type, as well as the elements. A coat, a lamb and a walking stick does not a passover make. Necessarily.

    It seems likely that Emmaus would have been, but I’m not sure I’d jump to the conclusion without knowing something more. Fr. Z, what do liturgical & scriptural authorities teach most of the time? And why?

  49. RBrown says:

    Read Fr. Meier’s books (whose work was hailed as exemplary by this Pope)and you’ll see that Scripture scholars are very clear, esp. in the Johannine material, that these encounters were Eucharistic (note the “ic” at the end of that word).

    Point being: these eucharistic encounters should INFORM our Mass.

    They were Eucharistic in the sense of universality, but that doesn’t mean they offer an exemplar for the celebration.

    The model Jesus offers for table fellowship needs to INFORM how we approach the Mass.

    If you consider the mass a meal, you’re off to a bad start. The Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper, but it is a memorial of Christ’s Passion and Death. As someone noted above, the Last Supper looks forward to the Sacrifice.

    The Eucharist as Meal concept comes from Protestantism, which denies that it is a Sacrifice and considers it a memorial of the Last Supper. Paul VI, in an effort at syncretism with Protestant theology, said that the Eucharist is a memorial of both the Last Supper and the Passion and Death. The new catechism corrects this.

    IMHO, if the Last Supper would have been celebrated AFTER Christ’s Resurrection, then it would be a meal.

    But these are points that should (and I’m sure Fr. Z., is hoping will) lead us back to the main topic at hand——Yankee Stadium Mass. I don’t think one can discern “what God wants” based on the one Last Supper event. One has to take the biblical tradition into account as a whole.
    God Bless.
    Comment by Fr. Michael

    See above.

  50. Gerri Kirkpatrick says:

    I am pleased at all the intelligence shown by the participants. I have one suggestion after reading about people passing hosts to others. At these large Masses, all should be required to receive on the tongue. To this I add I love receiving in my hand, but out of respect for the Eucharist it might be better received on the tongue in large groups.

  51. michigancatholic says:

    Correct, RBrown.

    The term “Eucharistic” is used to identify a type. An easier way to think about it, in the way it’s usually used, is as an exemplifier of “properties leading to” or as a “pre-figure” or “proto-type.”

    It doesn’t necessarily identify only things that belong to the set of “Masses” or “things containing the Eucharist themselves” although it would include those AS WELL.

    Being Eucharistic, in this sense, is necessary but not sufficient, one could say, for a thing to be considered a Mass.

    Honestly, there are terms such as “Eucharistic” which are very confusing to many people, because of the way they’ve been bandied about casually. For that reason, I tend not to use this term and a few others, but rather I tend to explain more carefully what I intend to say.

    The confusion with terms like this comes in because many people nowdays use a rather impoverished system of language to describe liturgical and theological ideas and things. So it can be rather difficult to carry on a decent conversation about Catholic things with many people who consider themselves informed in the Church. This casual sloppiness is what people have been encouraged to do. It was part of the “Spirit of Vatican II” development.

    Glib discourses are as rife as they are ignorant. It needs to stop and Catholics need to learn to be precise again. The depth and beauty of our faith demands it.

  52. elizabeth mckernan says:

    I am old enough to have attended several ‘house’ Masses during the 1960s celebrated for just three or four families in various living rooms. I was also present for Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Wembley stadium during his visit to Britain in 1982, and more recently for the outdoor Mass for the Feast of the Assumption in Lourdes.

    Whether for a dozen people or for many thousands I felt the same involvement and emotion. If many thousands of people are present whether in Lourdes or for the World Youth Day and they all wish to attend Mass, surely they cannot be prevented from doing so? Abuses sadly will occur whether it is a large or small gathering.

    I do hope the Holy Father will solve this problem.

  53. Fr. Michael says:

    Prof. Basto,

    I recall that scene from the movie “Clear and Present Danger” where the U.S. President says to Jack Ryan “How dare you speak to me that way!” and Ryan interrupts, “How dare YOU sir,…..”

    If Pope Benedict, or any pope, gives answers in a Q/A session, they are fair game for Christian thought, critique, etc… He wasn’t speaking ex cathedra for instance when making these “statements” as you put them.

    By the way, if you think that I of all people am being disrespectful, let’s pause to ponder the many times that Pope Paul VI is referred to on this blog as some hippie Protestant minister.

    How dare you, sir professor, question my respect and love for the Holy See. :-)

  54. michigancatholic says:

    Elizabeth,

    Liturgical affairs are not primarily about emotion.

  55. Fr. Michael says:

    Michigancatholic,

    My strong German ancestral background keeps me thick skinned, but I am insulted by your harsh comments.

    I do not need you to tell me what the Torah is.

    I do not need you to tell me about the link between Isaiah’s lamb imagery and the New Testament understanding as Christ as the Lamb of God.

    As a priest in good standing, who loves holy mother Church deeply, and someone working on his PhD in theology, I am far from being in need of your condescending responses.

    9/10? Paalease.

    Peace of Christ.

  56. Fr. Michael says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for your response and comments.

    Yeah, I was at the ’93 WYD in Denver. That night spent sleeping on the ground at Cherry Creek Park was one I don’t mind forgetting. My group was so far back, that at the Mass the next morning we could barely make out was happening, couldn’t hear anything. My peers around me were talking and chit-chatting like nothing was going on.

    I was saddened by it all.

    But I go back to my main point. We have two goods here: 1) the solemnity of the Mass and 2) the great and tremendous need young people have and the general public have (especially in the US during this voting season and growing secular age) to hear the message the Holy Father brings to these events.

    A solemn Mass and a people crying out for hope and the Gospel message.

    Perhaps it should be Yankee Stadium Vespers or Yankee Stadium Lessons & Song interspersed with reflections from the Holy Father and stay away from the Mass issue all together.

    Again, Matt, thanks for your reflection.

  57. michigancatholic says:

    Good. We’re getting somewhere. We’ll be there when you stop having “table fellowship” moments like a Quaker. =)

    At least you didn’t say that what happened with the loaves and fishes was that Christ encouraged people to share what they’d brought under their clothes (which is a bogus interpretation, not to mention unhygenic). That puts you in the top 50%, so don’t be too bent out of shape.

  58. JMJ says:

    I will be attending the Mass at Yankee Stadium and will report abuses seen (God willing there
    will not be any)It will be interesting to compare the number of abuses seen in my own parish. I
    am guessing they will be statistically the same.

    I will follow any further decisions our Holy Father makes regarding mass Masses.

    God bless all the priests who commented on this blog. Remember our time is always
    best spent praying and serving as our vocations dictate.

    JMJ

  59. Alison Hugh says:

    I will be attending the Mass at Yankee Stadium and will report abuses seen (God willing there
    will not be any)It will be interesting to compare the number of abuses seen in my own parish. I
    am guessing they will be statistically the same.

    I will follow any further decisions our Holy Father makes regarding mass Masses.

    God bless all the priests who commented on this blog. Remember our time is always
    best spent praying and serving as our vocations dictate.

    JMJ

  60. Fr. Michael says:

    JMJ wrote:

    “God bless all the priests who commented on this blog. Remember our time is always
    best spent praying and serving as our vocations dictate.”

    Thanks for the wish of blessing. And, haha, your point about time is well taken. Thanks.

  61. RBrown says:

    Correct, RBrown.
    Comment by michigancatholic

    Gee, thanks.

  62. Where Mass is celebrated before very great crowds of people, the need to avoid sacrilege is paramount.
    It overrides all other considerations.
    Therefore, the distribution of Holy Communion should be restricted to a few.
    Any Catholic will understand perfectly the need for this.

  63. Catherine says:

    A PHD in Theology! Well then, that explains it Father Michael! :) Teasing!

    I have been reading all the entries and what a wonderful forum Fr. Z. I do believe that the key here is RESPECT for the Eucharist which sees so much sacriledge, disrespect, and abuse these days. There is hardly any true Chatechetical direction these days ( I am 39 and
    one of the guinea pigs of CCD at Vatican II) so it natural that many do not
    have full understanding of what they are receiving at Mass and if they should go or not
    in the first place.

    Wouldn’t it be better if the Pope visited, spoke at WYD and other places on
    a Saturday. All could experience this wonder and then those could go to Mass
    inspired the next day? This would eliminate the issues, no?

    I find our Pope to be leading the battle in a loving way to eliminate the
    confusion and abuses that have been going on for a long time.

  64. Fr. Michael says:

    Catherine,

    I know, scary isn’t it! :-)

    Thanks for your post.

    I agree with your assessment.

    The Roman deacons bringing the hosts from the Papal Mass to area churches comes to mind here. As Catholics we do have that desire to be in union with the Holy Father and express that union. Communicating at a Papal Mass is such a profound moment (yes yes abuses and dumb tourists aside….). I guess that act would be lost at such gatherings as Yankee Stadium or WYD if it was a sort of Saturday rally. But, perhaps that should be the case lest we have disrespectful large Masses.

    Peace.

  65. Prof. Basto says:

    Father Michael,

    We don’t know each other. I can only assess your opinions based on what you write here.

    And I don’t think its fair game to use a certain kind of language towards the reigning pontiff, even as a critique of a position expressed by him in a Q&A session. I’m not a native speaker of English, but your words seemed an attempt to ridicule the Pontiff’s position.

    As for your considerations regarding Paul VI, I’ll meditate on the issue. You offer food for tought.

    Anyways, I take you for your word regarding your statement of love for the Holy See, and, since it appears that I have misinterpreted you, I offer my apologies.

  66. Fr. Michael says:

    Prof. Basto,

    Thank you for your kind posting.

    Even though I re-read and edit my comments before hitting the “submit” button, I will try to be ever more cautious about word-choice.

    Good evening.

  67. Dove says:

    Gerri, you are right. Communion on the tongue should be the rule and that will get rid of the abuse in which the host is saved up or passed
    along to another person.

  68. RBrown says:

    But I go back to my main point. We have two goods here: 1) the solemnity of the Mass and 2) the great and tremendous need young people have and the general public have (especially in the US during this voting season and growing secular age) to hear the message the Holy Father brings to these events.

    A solemn Mass and a people crying out for hope and the Gospel message.
    Comment by Fr. Michael

    Of course, the question is whether the giant outdoor celebration undermines the solemnity of the mass. What is appropriate for U2 or the Rolling Stones isn’t necessarily appropriate for the mass.

  69. Victor says:

    We need to realize that ontologically, there is no difference between communicating at a Papal Mass and communicating at the Mass of Father McWatchacallhim. Don’t we pray for and with the Holy Father at both occasions? And by this, don’t we have communion with him by it? If people would realize this, much would have been won.
    I really like Fr Michael’s last proposition. Let the crowd have a mass gathering with the Holy Father, let them pray and sing together, let the Holy Father give them a Catechesis, and then let them go to church next Sunday – I am sure there are enough churches in Australia. Or, let the Holy Father celebrate Sunday Mass in the local cathedral, with those who wish participating via Video Screen before/after they had their own Sunday Mass.

  70. Martha says:

    Dear friends when our Pope Benedict give us advices we should pay attention.Compare with himm we all are pygmies.He is only asking for proper respect and dignity throuot the solemnity of the Mass.The rest is chaos and division and that of course is very pleasing to the Evil One..

  71. RBrown says:

    By the way, if you think that I of all people am being disrespectful, let’s pause to ponder the many times that Pope Paul VI is referred to on this blog as some hippie Protestant minister.
    Comment by Fr. Michael

    I don’t remember anyone saying that about Paul VI here.

    On the other hand, I do think his papacy opened the door for mass to be celebrated by priests who acted like some hippie Protestant minister.

  72. Gavin says:

    The current polemical petty bickering aside, I’m very interested to see what Benedict will do with these large Masses. I hope Fr. Z will stay in the loop and keep us updated on what the plans are!

  73. I have often been concerned about Mass in large crowds and
    peoples receiving Our Lord, who are not Catholic or in the right
    frame of mind and/or grace.

    I am definitely for receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist on the
    tongue, and that priests and deacons should give Communion.

    Comment by: Janet M. Thomas, 2/19/08 @ 4:25p.m.

  74. Tim Ferguson says:

    Okay, here’s a suggestion (not that the Holy Father needs suggestions from a pipsqueak canonist like me, but hey…)

    The Holy Father says Mass in the morning at a cloistered monastery for a small group of religious. Simulcast on TV. Throughout the region, parishes have celebrations of the Mass for the various and sundry pilgrims.

    In the afternoon, at Yankee Stadium, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York offers Mass, with just his auxiliaries concelebrating, with the Holy Father presiding in choro and preaching, and the other assembled hierarchs and priests similarly attending in choro. A representative group of the faithful receive communion. The remainder of the crowd, together with the Holy Father receive Our Lord in spiritual communion.

  75. Stephen says:

    I would just like to say that I am saddened by the somewhat arrogant way some people like to express their views. To me there is not too much charity being shown especially to a priest. The bottom line here is that:1) Jesus wants us to be able to recieve Him as often as possible2)and in a worthy manner. I for one would be bitterly dissapointed if I was present in a large gathering for Mass and unable to welcome Jesus into my heart. Ask yourself one simple question. For what reason did Jesus institute the Blessed Sacrament? He Himself stated “When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself” Perhaps at the Last Judgement the Lord will decide to judge us all in small groups-otherwise those at the back might not feel involved!
    It all comes down to the individual. If every person present at these large Masses had a burning desire to partake in the Sacred Mysteries then surely God would approve. Proper catechesis is the key to sloving the problem
    stephen

  76. mpk says:

    What happens at any large Mass to the precious Body and Blood is much more important than how you feel about being able to as you say welcome Jesus into your heart. Sorry Stephen but this is not about us. It’s about Our Lord who offered Himself for us in this great mystery.

    The issue is how can those who consecrate the species and are most responsible insure that the Body of Christ does not end up on the ground and trampled. Or as so often happens received thoughtlessly by Catholics who have not been to Confession for decades. Or received by non-Catholics because in Catholic parishes they are familiar with they are welcomed to receive at the “table” (former NY church).
    I’ve read that in some Churches where the MEF is offerered after the NO the priest washes the floor where Eucharistic ministers have been standing out of concern for Our Lord’s Body having fallen to the ground before they say Mass. How often do we take the Eucharist this seriously and act like we really believe this is the Body and Blood of Our Lord?

    As for the polemics. Well it’s pretty difficult when talking about something this important not get a little riled. During the last 40 years the idea that the Mass is a celebration where people gather around the table for as Fr. Michael put it “fellowship” necessarily causes the nature of the Sacrifice to be diminished. Look no further for an explanation of the irreverent behavior. It is not clear to a good many Catholics that the Mass is a Sacrifice. Fr. Michael, sorry if you consider me out of line, but all the talk about a table and celebration and fellowship all these years has really taken its tole. The way we talk about the Eucharist really must change in order for us to begin to think once again like Catholics.
    Pat

  77. Due to the sacrileges that could come with “Mass in Masses” Communion on th Hand should be banned.

    Catecheis on the Real Presence of Christ should be done by the Pope.

    In a Mass of 10′s of Thousands, Only those that are in close distance to the Holy Father shoud recieve as to prevent point 1.

    A TLM would be great.

  78. Deborah says:

    It is highly doubtful that a few minutes of catechesis about the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament is going to make up for a decade or more of either none or distorted catechesis…not realistic at all, in my opinion.

  79. Bob Brady says:

    The papal mass in New Orleans in 1987 was a very emotional one for me. First thousands of people present were roasting in the sun and some had to be airlifted to hospitals by Army helicopters. Then a major thunderstorm came up and priests/deacons/press representatives all ran for cover because of the lightning. I stood in 3 inches of rain water and watched the lightning stike five miles away, they four, then three, then two…all directly coming my way. I stood next to the director of an abortion clinic I pickeded (she later converted to Catholicism) and was anticipating the press story if we were hit by lightning! Just as the next stroke was to hit where we were standing Pope John Paul II climbed the stairs to the platform where he celebrated mass. At this moment the sky suddenly became clear and blue! Pete Fountain and Al Hurt played “When the Saints go Marching In.” The whole experience was very profound for me and I felt that I had experienced a miracle.

    Months later I was asked by the then ex-clinic manager to be her sponsor at her confirmation. She left the abortion business and became an ultrasound technician.

  80. FRJTK says:

    I was at WYD Toronto Mass; a bit of a carnival atmosphere.
    I was also at the Canonization Mass of St. Josemaria; Wow! to see the great crowd kneel down as one body in reverence during the Eucharistic prayer was something amazing.

  81. Bob Brady says:

    The papal mass in New Orleans in 1987 was a very emotional one for me. First thousands of people present were roasting in the sun and some had to be airlifted to hospitals by Army helicopters. Then a major thunderstorm came up and priests/deacons/press representatives all ran for cover because of the lightning. I stood in 3 inches of rain water and watched the lightning stike five miles away, they four, then three, then two…all directly coming my way. I stood next to the director of an abortion clinic I pickeded (she later converted to Catholicism) and was anticipating the press story if we were hit by lightning! Just as the next stroke was to hit where we were standing Pope John Paul II climbed the stairs to the platform where he celebrated mass. At this moment the sky suddenly became clear and blue! Pete Fountain and Al Hurt played \”When the Saints go Marching In.\” The whole experience was very profound for me and I felt that I had experienced a miracle.

    Months later I was asked by the then ex-clinic manager to be her sponsor at her confirmation. She left the abortion business and became an ultrasound technician.

  82. “Pope John Paul II climbed the stairs to the platform where he celebrated mass. At this moment the sky suddenly became clear and blue! Pete Fountain and Al Hurt played ‘When the Saints go Marching In.’”

    Now THAT could only happen in New Orleans.

    Seriously, though, I was afraid of what the papal Mass here in DC might devolve into, so I am relieved that his MC is coming over here to set things straight. I wouldn’t mind reading in the Post of a “versus orientem” celebration once the smoke clears.

    That’ll keep people on their toes for a few weeks.

  83. Tom Harris says:

    Unfortunately, these days whenever the Pope is involved it is almost impossible to have a small anything, be it a Mass, moving him from one location to another, or going across any town in the world. Be that as it may, the dignity and respect for the celebration of Mass as PBXV1 is trying to ‘recapture’ is much like Jesus trying to keep the people quiet for His Sermon on the Mount. It’s an uphill battle, but I suspect it can be accomplished to some degree if the heart of the participants is in the right ‘sacred’ posture. Of course, when you are leader of 1.3 billion Catholics this will always be an uphill struggle, as surely as it must have been for Jesus giving His Sermon on the Mount. But Benedict has already shown he can get things done that need to be done and is not afraid to state it as it is. So I will place my bets that Benedict will accomplish this as well.

  84. WFW says:

    I agree with David Alexander about the DC mass–does Msgr Marini’s involvement include music as well? One can only hope…

    As to the massive masses issue–I know that there has been a theological push after VII regarding having unity especially in the liturgy–this is one reason why there is usually only one altar in churches constructed and “rennovated” after VII. But if there must be a mass and people must recieve communion what about reviving the ancient monastic practice of having multiple masses at the same time? There could be twenty or thrity altars set up (this might not work in a stadium but would in a big field) each with a different celebrant with attending concelebrants. For the sermon the celebrant could either preach his own sermon, everyone could listen to the Holy Father give his own or the celebrant could read the Holy Father sermon to the people gathered around. That way people would be closer to the Sacrifice itself while expressing visible unity. I also like the idea of stressing the fact that even though there may be thirty differnet masses taking place it is all still ONE mass with ONE celebrant.

  85. Jack says:

    The unfortunate thing about the Internet is that people will have the same name as you.

    Anyway, it seems the thing that Benedict is condeming here is the army of concelebrants, not so much outdoor Masses. I think there’s a picture floating around of a young Fr. Ratzinger offering the Old Rite in the fields of Germany, the faithful kneeling in reverance. Does anyone really think that Our Lord would be offended by something like that?

    Also, in terms of a cult of Papal personality, Benedict just doesn’t have it. John Paul could never pull off a reverent outdoor Mass, even if he wanted to, because people looked to JPII’s persona. Benedict can do it, because he is so skilled at letting the persona Christi shine through him.

  86. For decades those of us who profess Christ have been seen by the secular elite as unable to think, as lesser lights. Now we have a Vicar of Christ on earth who puts a majority of them and us to shame with his ability to think. His intelligence and use of it shines out from the Holy See and cannot be ignored by anyone who has ears to hear.

  87. Rouxfus says:

    The encounter on the road to Emmaus, with two apostles gathered together in His name, was clearly a private Mass conducted during the Easter Triduum, but it is clearly not the Extraordinary Use of the mass, nor is it the Ordinary Use. Perhaps it would be called the Super-Susbstantial Use celebrated in the vernacular. The question remains: was it a stable group?

    Kidding aside, there were many elements of what we know the Mass to be: a Liturgy of the Word, where the High Priest proclaimed scripture (the “reading”), and explained its significance (a homily). Then, a Liturgy of the Eucharist: He then “took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened and they knew him: and he vanished out of their sight.” Just as we are commanded to do at the dismissal “Et missa est” then they returned to Jerusalem, found the other disciples, and started proclaiming the good news, and teaching the others what they were taught: “and they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.” Without even breaking bread again, just mentioning it, called Jesus back into their presence, for further instruction.

    This is all serious and sacred stuff, but sometimes when I read the threads on WDTPRS, I can’t help but recall H.L. Mencken’s definition of ‘Creator’: “a low comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh. “

  88. pmsmema says:

    I never will be able to understand how people think and go back and forth to try and prove
    who or which is right. My first time ever encountering this web site. I became more confused by the back and forth of many seeming to want to prove they each had the right answer. The Holy Father will do what the Holy Spirit guides him to do, and nothing will make a bit of difference. So why not pray for him in his discerning the Will of the Holy Spirit. And stop the rhetoric back and forth. We all have opinions, and they are just that opinions. Because one states it outloud in a forum, does not make it right or wrong. Let us be kindand accept the difference of opinions of our brothers in Christ and our sisters too. Amen

  89. jack burton says:

    Jack said: “The unfortunate thing about the Internet is that people will have the same name as you.”

    I just wanted to make it clear that “Jack” and “jack burton” are not one and the same person. I for one disagree strongly with Jack’s sentiments regarding Pope John Paul II.
    I have a hard time understanding many aspects of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate but I would never presume to question his character.

    Peace.

  90. Tobias H says:

    Some of the comments about our late and beloved Holy Father John Paul II are just unbelievable.

    I hope they come from people who are too young (like me) to remember the critical condition of the Church in 1978 and compare it to the much improved situation in 2005, and who (unlike me) have never cared to check out the facts of history.

    Do you think Pope Benedict is telling lies when he speaks of his predecessor with such love and admiration?

  91. jack burton says:

    Yeah, I think some people have spent a little too much time surfing Novus Ordo Watch.

  92. Diane says:

    “…the Pope decided not to delegate any longer the organization of celebrations to third parties. And so he asked that, in the next days, that his Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, should fly across the oceans (both the Pacific and Atlantic) with the precise task of studying the locations to be used for the liturgical functions with the end of taking on direct responsibility for carrying out celebrations in those spaces; that the result might be Masses that are as vast as oceans, but at least characterized as much as possible with composure and discipline.”

    If it weren’t lent, I would go crack open a bottle of champagne.

    Someone remind me to celebrate this when Easter comes.

  93. allie says:

    Much valuable insight has been expressed on this topic. From downunder, while the rest of you sleep, I will ad a couple of thoughts.
    Sad and terrible abuses occur frequently inside churches, even our cathedrals, and in other locations such as school gyms given over to school masses, ovals etc. Terrible irreverence for the eucharist, even sacrilegious reception and disrespect for the liturgy generally are fostered by certain factors. Wherever large numbers or pockets of the congregation are largely infrequent attendees at Mass there will be abuse unless clear strategies are employed to prevent (catechesis at the event and clear example form others, appropriate choice of hymns) Special ministers and communion on the hand invite trouble. I have attended a packed celebration of Mass at chestokowa, where communion was skillfully ( miraculousy) delivered to everyone but expert deacons. At that Mass it was wonderful to be in such a crowd of reverent devotion.
    As to WYD type Masses, many spiritually switched on youth are deeply affected and inspired by their experience. One of the most wonderful aspects of this experience seems to a be a powerful revelation of the reality of the Church as body of Christ. They experience their brotherhood and sisterhood with all those joining in the MAss from around the world. They experience a profound realisation of their organic and real relationship to the Pope. And to consummate this experience they receive the eucharist which is the sacrament of unity. This is a good thing. Obviously it would be better without the abuses and poor behaviour of some. Just imagine being present for such a Mass in which there was a sea of Catholic devotion and deeply held belief in the Real Presence and in the body of Christ.

  94. Fr. Michael says:

    Pat wrote:

    “Fr. Michael, sorry if you consider me out of line, but all the talk about a table and celebration and fellowship all these years has really taken its tole. The way we talk about the Eucharist really must change in order for us to begin to think once again like Catholics.”

    As I wrote above, I regret using the word “fellowship”. I should have known it would set the typical WDTPRS reader off.

    What I MEANT to say, is that we read in Scripture the accounts of Jesus and who he chose to eat with. Think Zaccheus. His social choices revolving around meals inform our own choices. This was true with the disciples and Paul, who in his own way, gave instruction for meal ethics.

    What does that have to do with the original topic of Fr. Z’s posting? My original point is that the biblical tradition as a whole informs our Eucharistic practices, not just the Last Supper event.

    Again, I regret the use of the word “fellowship”. I’m not a hippie, honestly…. no seriously, I’m not. Unfortunately, that one word choice got in the way of my simple and to the point, point.

    God bless!

  95. Fr. Michael: I should have known it would set the typical WDTPRS reader off.

    The “typical” WDTPRS reader?

    Please do elaborate.

    I am not sure about who the “typical” reader is around here, having just posted a list of locations people are coming from around the world,…

    …but this sort of generalization is likely to set me off!

  96. “If it weren’t lent, I would go crack open a bottle of champagne.”

    Wait until Sunday, which if I remember, is not included in the Lenten fast.

  97. Jan B. says:

    I have so many thoughts on this topic, and am writing a short story based on my experience of a mass held in a bull ring outside of Puerto Vallarta. However, Allie’s comments on abuses makes me remember to add, Holy Mass is not our only problem. The new emphasis on Nocturnal Adoration without paying attention to unaddressed and in fact denied liturgical abuses, is also full of abuses. Adoration is often given over to the various lay groups in a parish, and I attended one sponsored by a charasmatic group, and babies, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve heard praying in “tongues” amplified over a dozen speakers, in the dark, with the sanctuary filled with writhing believers. They apparently learn to speak in ‘tongues’ from late nite porno sites. Priests are not often present at these “celebrations” and the very worst elements have control. It’s terrifying what has happened to our Church and this pope’s inability to admit it is even more terrfying.

  98. jack burton says:

    I find Fr. Michael’s observation that Christ often gathered multitudes to himself to be interesting and worthy of discussion but hardly decisive or per se integral to the issue of giant outdoor Masses.
    In “Feast of Faith” Pope Benedict does a good job of refuting the theories of some that try to link the Eucharist with the general fellowship meals of Jesus and the feeding of the multitudes in an erroneous way. Perhaps this heterodox trend in recent theology (mostly Protestant) is part of the reason why these concepts rouse suspicion in some people.
    The shape that the early celebration of the Eucharist took was not one reminiscent of a memorial of the loaves and fishes episodes in an open field but rather of the sacred banquet shared in the sanctuary of the Upper Room. It was here that the Pasch of Christ was initiated; it was here that the first Christians waited in fervent prayer and supplication for the Lord to manifest Himself; and it was here that the first-fruits were revealed in the descent of the Holy Spirit.
    Christ instructed Peter and John to prepare the upper room for His Passover and I would say that the table, or altar, is clearly an essential requirement. This pattern was followed by the earliest Christians who prepared a suitable room in the homes of patrons. I think it is clear that celebration in the outdoors was not the idea. This is not to say that it is an impossibility; I only wish to suggest that Scripture and Tradition clearly favor the sanctuary motif above an outdoor multitude and perhaps with very good reason. In any case I believe that the form of Christian worship is more closely connected to the Passover liturgy than to the fellowship meals or feeding of the multitudes (while not denying a connection between these on a different level).
    I’m sure Pope Benedict had something much more learned and profound in mind when he asked us to consider the structure the Lord wanted; I pray that he will elucidate the matter in the near future.

  99. Matthew Mattingly says:

    “In the USA and Australia, the Pope decided not to delegate any longer the organization of celebrations to third parties. And so he asked that, in the next days, that his Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, should fly across the oceans (both the Pacific and Atlantic) with the precise task of studying the locations to be used for the liturgical functions with the end of taking on direct responsibility for carrying out celebrations in those spaces; that the result might be Masses that are as vast as oceans, but at least characterized as much as possible with composure and discipline.”

    I COPIES/PASTED THE ABOVE FROM THE ARTICLE. I THINK WITH THIS DECISION, THE POPE BRILLIANTLY PUT AN END TO THE BIZARRE ANTICS WITH REGARDS TO HUGE PAPAL MASSES WE SAW ALL THE TIME UNDER JOHN PAUL II. BY THIRD PARTIES I PRESUME IT IS MEANT THE LITURGICAL HACKS (DISSIDENT NUNS, PRIESTS, AND MOSTLY LAYWOMEN), WHO PLAN THESE HUGE GATHERINGS. NOW THEY WILL ALL BE OUT OF THE PICTURE, AND THE PAPAL MC- GUIDO MARINI- WILL OVERSEE EVERYTHING. THANK GOD IT ISN’T PIERO MARINI, WHO WOULD JUST RUBBER STAMP THE ABUSES, OR ADD WORSE ONES.
    I THINK THAT SLOWLY ALOT OF THE ABUSES WITH REGARDS TO THE MASS WILL BE SUPRESSED AND REPUDIATED IN THIS PONTIFICATE ( ALTAR GIRLS, COMMUNION IN THE HAND, COMMUNION STANDING, 1,000+ PRIESTS CONCELEBRATING AT ONCE, DISTRUBUTION OF HOLY COMMUNION AT HUGE PAPAL MASSES (whether at St. Peter’s or elsewhere). I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED IF SOONER THAN WE THINK, ALOT OF THESE RULINGS ARE MADE. DOING AWAY WITH MASS “FACING THE PEOPLE” would be another good abuse to supress.

  100. Barbara says:

    When people attend mass, indoors or out, and they are chewing gum, bring in food, bottles of beverage it is disrespectful.
    It is also disrespectful to wear halter tops, plunging necklines, wholly clothes that reveal way to much body skin.
    The howdy dowdy greeters telling jokes, talking so loud that any attempt for praying; before and after mass; is drowned out by the the gossiping of another persons marriage; all the talk about parties, trips, vacations, every topic but GOD.

    The disrespect shown at the outdoor masses is the same conduct displayed at mass in the church.

  101. jack burton says:

    No kidding Barbara! I belong to a TLM parish but the church itself is shared with a novus ordo congregation and one time I accidentally showed up for one of the novus ordo Masses and I couldn’t believe the contrast! It was horrifying to witness that sanctuary being profaned as it was. Of course they had stripped things down to Calvinist standards but the real killer was the way the people acted. At the TLM people do not talk in church much less linger in clusters cackling away before and after Mass. I even heard trashy profanity coming from the mouths of one of the greeter-EM people who was talking at the volume one would expect in a bar. I can’t even begin to explain all the details but it was a very depressing and disturbing experience to say the least.

  102. jcd says:

    GRACE AND PEACE OF OUR LORD JESUS BE WITH YOU…I LOVE OUR POPE…

    UNFORTUNATELY,THERE IS ALOT OF ABUSE BEING DONE TO OUR LORD, HIS CHURCH AND TO HIS BELOVED PEOPLE. OUR REVERENCE IN CHURCH MUST ALSO BE GIVEN TO EACH OTHER. BLESS THE LORD ALWAYS.

  103. ALL: Please do not SHOUT. Typing in all CAPS on the internet is considered SHOUTING. It is less than proper “netiquette”

  104. jmj says:

    God bless to all with good intentions and who share constructive ideas regarding
    how to end liturgical abuses and increase veneration of our Lord in the Blessed
    Sacrament. And of course as to how and if to celebrate mass Masses. JPII we love you!

    Please remember to for the unborn today and go out to your local clinic to pray
    now! Let us cut computer time during Lent especially.

    God bless,

    JMJ

  105. Barbara says:

    I suggested to my 24 year old daughter she just might like the Latin Mass that was coming back.
    Her comment floored me; she did not understand the mass in English why would she understand the Latin mass.
    She went to Catholic School for 12 years. The school did not teach her prayers, I did that. She and her classmates do not know the sacraments, ten commandments, history of the church and the mass. I have asked her and she does not know.
    They have no respect for what they do not understand. Why should they?
    The bishop and the priests complain about the loss of 20 to 40 years leaving the Catholic Church.
    When I mention the lack of teaching they turn a deaf ear.

    The young people are leaving a nothing and finding a half of a loaf. The Catholic Church would be a whole loaf if they knew and understood the teachings of the church. Instead they are going else where for something over nothing.

    As for when the bishop of my diocese will allow the Latin Mass, that will require following the Popes protocol for enforcing the pope’s orders.

    The chapel,at the cathedral, was just refurbished and it is now in the round. They completely removed the Blessed Mothers side chapel. Over half of the setting is gone. The bulletin no longer lists Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

  106. jack burton says:

    I must supplement a prior post concerning meal fellowship in a vast gathering.

    Of course the Mass is more than meal fellowship so this is practically irrelevant, but I thought it would be worthwhile to point out that I believe the miraculous fellowship meals of Jesus with the multitudes – which foreshadowed the Eucharist in some way – are perhaps not so supportive of vast, outdoor Masses as one might assume (fundamental problems with this approach aside).

    The prior practice, for example for a vast multitude of pilgrims in Rome, might be to provide many Masses in the various Churches of the city. There may of course have been the big Papal Mass but this would not attempt to accommodate the entire mob who would be able to properly attend Mass and receive Communion at one of the peripheral Masses before or after the Papal Mass. It is obvious that from many angles, certainly the reverential, this is prudent and wise, but is the big top production Mass perhaps supported by Christ’s feeding of the multitudes?
    Of course my previous response was meant to indicate something of the ideal form of the liturgical celebration and puts forth the sanctuary scenario after the model of the upper room, but I believe that the feeding of the multitudes may reinforce this idea rather than contradict it, for example:

    “At the same time, the underlying semitisms often provide a key to theological meaning. Thus, for example, when Jesus invites his disciples to “come apart into a desert place [or wilderness] and rest awhile” (6:31), it is worth noting that the word for “rest” in the sense of leisure is rarely found in classical Greek: Mark’s use of it in that sense, particularly in conjunction with the “wilderness,” suggests that he is thinking of the Sabbath rest in the book of Exodus. Or to give another example, when Jesus instructs the crowd to sit before he feeds them with the five loaves, Mark’s words are literally as follows: “And he commanded them all to recline in garden-plots by hundreds and fifties” (6:39-40). Here the repeated word ‘recline’ suggests the symbolic posture of those eating a Passover meal, a connotation reinforced by their gathering in “meal-eating groups.”
    The strange and unusual word “garden-plots” does not seem to make much sense in Greek but arguably would be suggestive in Hebrew of the garden of Genesis. The repetitious phrasing here, in which the second verse offers a slight variation on the first (“garden-plots” for “green grass” and “hundreds and fifties” for “meal-eating groups”), is typical of the couplets of Hebrew verse.”
    – Marie Noonan Sabin, “Reopening the Word: Reading Mark as Theology in the Context of Early Judaism,” p. 8

  107. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    The problem with these youth events and outdoor Masses is rock noise. This form of noise is evil and comes directly from the devil. It is evil not owing to its content (as foolish Pentecostalists prattle) but because its form is disordered. The end of art is to point to the Creator. Beauty is a quality that inheres in objects; it is not in the eye of the beholder. There is no beauty in that aural sewage, and it should never be permitted at World Youth Day events.

    P.K.T.P.

  108. john says:

    John Paul made a career out of these masses. What the youth and those who go to mass today seem to forget that they are there for the worship of God in the highest form.

    So funny how people will dress in a suit and tie for work, or a date, but to go and see God and take the body and blood, shorts, flip flops, whatever

    This is all a product of Vatican II which I have to feel was the work of the devil because nothing so horrible could come from a council, or the council was not inspired by the holy Spirit as the opening speech of Pope John XXIII seems to indicate as he says the council would only be pastoral

  109. jack burton says:

    john,

    I’ve been to two WYD Papal Masses and the shirtless communicants and rock music were the least of the problems. Most people can only see the Mass from the TV screens since the Pope is far away on a stage and the environment is nothing like Mass. One difference between this and simply being in St. Peter’s Square during a Papal Mass is that in this case random EMs with baskets of Hosts come around and pass out Communion indiscriminately. I wish they would have provided Masses in the various churches of the city so that people could actually feel as though they went to Mass that day instead of Woodstock with Mass playing in the background on giant screens. I remember some girl asking me to protect her because a creepy guy kept making vulgar passes at her; talk about reverence at Mass. haha

  110. Barbara says:

    Would it be possible the Pope says mass at the National Cathedral and the rest of the people watch his mass at the surrounding churches by telea com hook up? The priests, not the lay or nuns, at each church would pass out communion. The priests at each church would consecrate the hosts at each church. With all the priests in town it would not necessary for any non priest to distribute Holy Communion.

    Both of my parents funeral mass were con celebrated by four priests who were close friends and a nephew. The #%^^ nun helped to distribute communion. If I had even suspected this was going to happen I would have stopped it before mass. Never did I think with four priests would she be so disrespectful.

    In Idaho the Benedictine Sisters are so liberal the surrounding dioceses do not even consider them a religious order and have not for over 30 years.

  111. john says:

    Jack

    I am not against the masses per se as they are a means to reach out

    But the mass today in general-has become a circus with the norms being stretched

    The church seems to want to make everything easy for the laity, but the church as instituted by Christ here on earth as a means of getting to heaven, which is the end means

    For the church to exist, it must be One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic and a defection in any one of those is a defection. Is getting to heaven easy? Have the “standards” been lowered these past 40 years? Did God ask to be worshipped less reverent? Did I miss the news release?

    What happened is the church after WWII decided to be more in tune with the modern world, something Pope St Pius X warned infallibly about, but Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI decided to ignore

  112. Barbara says:

    The mass has become more like a concert. Which style of music (?) do you prefer.
    I have told my daughters my funeral mass is to be organ, violin only; not drums, water sticks, guitars, etc., or I will haunt everyone involved. Only catholic hymns are to be sung.

    The bag pipes can be played at the grave side service, this is what happens when you have Scot ancestors.