Yankees to Pope Benedict: keep off the grass

I am reading in an Italian paper this morning, Corriere della sera that when His Holiness of Our Lord, Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ now gloriously reigning goes to … grrrr… Yankee Stadium, the he will not be permitted to walk on the grass.  It mustn’t be trampled, after all.

I am a little conflicted, of course, since baseball is clearly the sport God loves most.  Thus, a ball park is a kind of cathedral and, as such, the all important grass must be respected.  I stipulate.

But this is His Holiness of Our Lord now gloriously reigning, after all.

Also, they are expecting to distribute Holy Communion to 57,000 people in something around 14 minutes.  It’ll need some 530 priests.  

I will not be one of them.

They figure each priest has to give a Sacred Host to a communicant once every 8 seconds.

I sure hope one day to see the end of these mega-Masses… or rather, if not the mega-Masses, at least the mega-Communion distributions.  I am fully aware that people can get rather emotional about this, but I find it all very troubling.

Especially that bit about the grass.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Eric says:

    Disappointed to be so close by on Long Island but not to have tickets =( though I may brave the line up on 5th Ave to try and get a glimpse of the Holy Father next weekend.

  2. Exaudi says:

    Father, certainly the priest would not go merrymaking about the nave during Mass, I think this is certainly analogous. It’s about preserving the integrity of the Sacred Liturgy. I mean, you wouldn’t want to scandalize the faithful…*cough*, I guess.

  3. Somerset '76 says:

    How ironic. The NY Yankees are very solicitious for their “sacred” ground, amidst well-known and documented irreverences of the Sacred Host that have taken place at these super-scale Papal Masses, about which not much ink gets spilled outside hardcore traditionalist circles.

    I know Fr. Z has reported in the past that Pope Benedict isn’t all that crazy about these events, the profanation of the Eucharist being one of the reasons. So why does he not just simply declare it a matter of the honor of the truly sacred to just not have these mass Communions, or else mandate that the Host only be distributed, and this only on the tongue?

    I fear I know the reason: the sense I gather he has of not having sufficient leverage to assert himself that strongly. And, really, that’s the problem across the board, in all the ecclesiastical issues, as we have particularly seen with the lack of response to the episcopal backlash against Summorum Pontificum (not to mention the extensive delay in its promulgation in the first place), Jewish agitations against the traditional rite’s Good Friday prayer regarding them, and now with rumors that Archbishop Ranjith is about to be run out of Rome.

    This is the problem: our leaders are approaching these problems from the standpoint of politics and diplomacy, when in such time of crisis as this we need them to inspire us to be “martyrs” (and in some places in the world, this literally) by being willing to take the uncompromising stand – and accept the consequences, come what may. And I can add this: the day we see a leadership that is determined to do the right things, politics and diplomacy be damned, that is the day when all but the truly schismatic among the hardcore traditionalists will begin to trust Rome.

  4. TNCath says:

    I have mixed emotions about this. First of all, anyone who has visited Yankee Stadium should visit the memorials behind the outfield that honor the Yankee greats: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig. In that same area are also memorials commemorating the visits of and Masses said by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II in this stadium. The way I see it, this makes a very powerful statement. Also, another question is this: Is not the chance for great numbers of people to receive Holy Communion from a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father at these visits an opportunity for spiritual renewal and recognition of the importance of the Petrine office by the faithful? I think it’s one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations.

    As for the “mega-Masses” in sports arenas, I do understand and sympathize with those who feel that these liturgies are not conducive to reverence and the danger of profanation of the Eucharist is certainly increased. However, anyone who has attended “mega-Masses” in St. Peter’s Square or even St. Peter’s Basilica could argue that the behavior of the crowd, st times, can be quite disrespectful as well and far from the ideal. Moreover, St. Peter’s is the only place I have ever been where I have seen people attempting to take home the Eucharist as a “souvenir” only to be caught be a watchful Vatican gendarme or priest. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen at events outside the Vatican, but I do think that no matter where you go, abuses and profanations can take place at Masses, be they “mega-Masses” or parish Masses of 30 people.

    As for the grass, well, what would George Steinbrenner and family do if the Pope DID walk on the grass? Evict him from the stadium?

  5. Andrew says:

    In Fort Worth, everyone calls the Ranger’s ballpark “the Temple” because they understand implicitly the divine aspect of baseball.

  6. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Why the time limit of 14 minutes?

  7. Michael C. says:

    As long as there are mass-communions at any papal mass, there will be irreverence and people trying to sneak away with hosts. I remember hearing about the first miracle of John Paul: a man who was cured from some illness because he had received a host consecrated by him. As if the Blessed Sacrament were some king of holy relic. People don’t really understand what the Eucharist is, and to them, it’s bread the Pope had in front of him during Mass.

  8. What can you expect from the Yankees? (Cacciaguida and I are Mets fans, each having grown up about twenty minutes from Shea, albeit in opposite directions.) One communicant every eight seconds ought to be manageable, I think. It was delightful to have met you in Norfolk on Friday evening, Father.

  9. I’m delighted the Holy Father will not be touching the grass at Yankee Stadium because I don’t want the Yankees to win the World Series.

  10. Thomas says:

    Fr. Z., have you heard this report:

    Apparently a man working on the construction of the new Yankee Stadium was a Red Sox fan. He threw a Red Sox jersey into the concrete mix that was used for the foundation of the Yankees’ dugout. Now THAT will be hallowed ground worthy of a Papal Mass.

  11. Christian says:

    I think that it is just not worth the risk of profanation to have these mega-Communion distributions. This thing of distribution communion at EVERY mass is entirely post-V2 anyway. A priest I know says he remembers going to a Solemn Mass in a German Cathedral as late as 1968 were there was no Communion distributed to the faithful. Going to Mass is not about receiving communion, it is primarily about participating in the sacrifice. This is proved by the fact that one can receive communion outside of Mass.

    Personally I would go as far as to say that most people should refrain from communion except for a few times a year in order that they might undertake a fuller preparation. Not only that this fashion of receiving communion every week may be very good for the devout (which it is) but those who find the Christian life difficult should not be forced (as they are indirectly) to feel bad about not receiving communion. This makes them take communion when they have not prepared for it and thus commit the much worse sin of sacrilege. Or it can lead to them starting to treat confession like a quick clean up in order to receive communion without embarrassment the next day. A culture in which not taking communion is perfectly normal would thus make the Christian life much more gentle on the average Catholic. This is partly why, I believe, people find Catholicism much more difficult than in the past. For most of history constant waring battle was only for the particularly devout and the Church understood that most people are weak and need to be treated very gently.

  12. SM says:

    These mega-Masses should be without communion… Spiritual Communion only, period…

    That solves the problem… Simple!

  13. Tim Ferguson says:

    Would the Holy Father allow the Yankees (or some other non-evil team, like, say, the Tigers…) play baseball in St. Peter’s?

  14. Manuel says:

    Actually soccer (football) is the most Catholic sport. It is the only one where I have heard the whole team dedicating their trophy to the Blessed Virgin.
    Here is Real Madrid CF offering their League season to the Virgin of Almudena in Madrid Spain.


    It is also the only one that has a team founded by a priest Celtic FC of Glasgow.

  15. Fr. A says:

    Well, if His Holiness were to come to “the Cell,” we White Sox fans would be honored to have him walk on the grass. :-)

  16. Rellis says:

    One good thing from this: it appears from Fr. Z’s report that only ordinary ministers of the Eucharist will be communicating to the faithful. At least some 30 year old woman won’t be there, ciborium in hand, in Section 301B.

    Probably an improvement over the “not looking so great in the rearview mirror” papacy of JPII.

  17. Scelata says:

    “amidst well-known and documented irreverences of the Sacred Host that have taken place at these super-scale Papal Masses, about which not much ink gets spilled outside hardcore traditionalist circles.”

    Can you give me a link to this?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  18. Michael says:

    I’m heading to New York along with 42 other Penn State students, as well as one of the priests stationed here at PSU. He’s been told that he will help distribute communion, and will be given a special stole for the occasion, so that all the priests will match. He’s not sure whether to wear his Benedictine habit, which he wears normally, or a cassock (in order to match all the diocesan priests there) under the surplice, however.

  19. ::gets into armchair::

    If this was me running the Liturgy, Communion would not be distributed to the Faithful. (We’d have vespers instead)

    I hope to see an end to these Mega Masses…although kneeling and receiving on the tounge would help. :)

    ::gets out of armchair::

    hopefully it will all be figured out.

  20. Josiah says:

    Michael, he should wear the habit. Habits take the place of the cassock in choir dress.

  21. Brian Sudlow says:

    Wait a minute, wait a minute. I seem to remember Leo XIII specifically publishing an encyclical letter (Testem Baseballvolentiae) that states, in unequivocal terms, that baseball, a clearly activist and democratic sport, was inferior to football (or soccer, as it is heretically known across the pond), a truly Catholic – because universal – sport.

    Don’t tell me the news didn’t reach you in the USA yet? Maybe that’s what Benedict XVI is coming to tell you ;-)

  22. Woody Jones says:

    I agree with the folks who have posted saying that there should be no distribution of communion to the faithful; vespers would in fact be better, and as Fr. Z knows, I’m sure, if done in the style of St Peter’s (Latin, Gregorian chant) it is quite spiritual and edifying. I am also very bothered by the sight of so many of the faithful receiving Our Lord in the hand, and as I remember the videos of the Cologne Masses, youths who obviously had not washed were receiving Our Lord in their grubby paws. This kind of thing comes close to sacrilege if you ask me.

  23. Thomas – That would be sweet, about the Red Sox jersey, if it could be verified. Mets fans like us generally have a kindness for the Sox, if only because the two teams have each a particular antipathy to the Y*****s.

    I wasn’t aware fo the option of celebrating a Mass without distributing Communion to the faithful. If that is really permitted it seems like a good alternative. Failing that, could communicants be instructed that they must receive on the tongue with hands folded? I haven’t forgotten the free-for-all a few years ago, when somebody offered on eBay a Host that had been given at a Papal Mass somewhere in Italy.

  24. dcs says:

    soccer, as it is heretically known across the pond

    I definitely agree that soccer is heretical. Anathema sit!!

    Apparently a man working on the construction of the new Yankee Stadium was a Red Sox fan. He threw a Red Sox jersey into the concrete mix that was used for the foundation of the Yankees’ dugout. Now THAT will be hallowed ground worthy of a Papal Mass.

    It is apparently a true story.

    The Yankees wisely dug it out. They certainly don’t need any trace of one of baseball’s most cursed franchises hanging around their new stadium.

  25. Angelo says:

    A priest, who shall not be named, wrote about ten years ago in what was then called The Latin Mass magazine that he began to have questions when he saw Consecrated Hosts consecrated at John Paul II’s papal Mass at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, October 2, 1978, being carried away in burlap sacks after the extravaganza was over. The priest’s eyes moistened quite a bit when he recounted this story in various talks that he gave over the years. He was truly sorrowful over the profane, sacrilegious way that Our Lord’s Real Presence was treated. Will it be any different this time in the Yankee Stadium concourse?

    All of this has been carefully coordinated with the new papal master of ceremonies. It is ironic that the Holy Father will use the papal staff of Pope Pius IX at events that Pope Pius IX would frown upon such as open air Masses and the invasion of the laity, both male and female, including women dressed as men, into the Hollywood-produced “sanctuary” in consultation with Hollywood producers and pro-abortion political “advance teams” as to how to “stage” a papal Mass.

    Would Pope Pius IX approve of any of this? Please, it is a travesty against the memory of Pope Pius IX, who condemned religious indifferentism. Pope Pius IX would rail against this stadium event while the very propositions he condemned in Quanta Cura, 8, 1964, and the Syllabus of Errors are promoted with great enthusiasm.

  26. John Enright says:

    That’s why the Holy Father isn’t coming to Philadelphia – to preserve the pristine condition of the grass at Citizens Bank Park. He’s obviously a Phillies phan.

  27. John E: I would buy that argument perhaps in favor of the Mets.

  28. Jeff says:

    So this is what is going to be happening in the United States:


  29. G says:

    So much talk about the ….Blessed Yankees.

    “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

    (Save the Liturgy, save the World)

  30. Humboldt says:

    I have the solution. Distribute the communion in little platic bags before the beginning of the Mass. When the pope says, eat it, then everybody will just open their little bags and problem solved.

  31. Michael says:

    Tell me Fr. Z, when we get to heaven (assuming we do) will you be blogging and groaning about the 144,000 that are ahead of ya? Sure and Mass isn’t about Holy Communion! Where did you come from? That goes back to before St Pius X himself. Last time I read Matt.,Mark, and Luke the only part of the “Mass” Jesus said was Take and Eat…Take and Drink! Sound to me like Holy Communion and that my dear lads and ladies is “FRAMERS INTENT!” Pope Benedict said it’s a problem but he also said something about no solution. Maybe the good LORD just wants it this way whether we like it or not. BY the way one Host every 8 seconds is a lot slower than the pace at the last TLM I attended!

    As for the grass. I don’t think it’s about Pope Benedict walking on the grass; but, the rest of the mob that will be there with him. After all it is baseball season. Or maybe you folks think Card. Egan can afford to re-sod the joint!

    [How sour!]

  32. pdt says:

    Fr. Z wrote:

    I sure hope one day to see the end of these mega-Masses… or rather, if not the mega-Masses, at least the mega-Communion distributions.

    While I wholeheartedly agree with eliminating mega-distributions, I would have to say that based on today’s Mass readings the mega-Catholic-assembly dates back to the earliest days of the Church. The population of Jerusalem in the days of Christ was somewhere around 60,000. Peter preached and converted 3,000 in one day. If we assume that was fully half the crowd, then 6,000 people, or 10% of Jerusalem, were there. The census bureau estimates the DC/Arlington/Alexandria SMSA at 5.09 million today. So to be comparable, the Pope will have to hold a service for well over half a million. I’d say he’s cut back significantly!

  33. Fr. W. says:

    Fr. Z.

    I am sorry to say this, but how wrong you are!!

    Cricket is quite plainly the game most favoured by God. After all it has such a theological basis. The three stumps stand for the Trinity; the two bails (that rest on the stumps) stand for the divine and human natures of Christ. The batsman is the theologian who defends these doctrines against the assaults of the devil (the red cricket ball). The bowler is the one trying to unseat the theologian especially if the theologian is not competent – that is he doesn’t defend the wicket.
    In other words if the batsman is useless (like many ‘theologians’ of today) then he doesn’t defend the basic Christian belief, he doesn’t bear up to the probing questions of the day in the form of the bowler.

    Fr. W.

  34. dcs says:

    I think cricket can be likened to one of the Eastern Rites, while baseball is definitely analogous to the traditional Roman Rite. Of course I mean baseball minus the heresies of designated hitter, interleague play, and artificial turf.

  35. Limbo says:

    Fr. Z wrote:
    I sure hope one day to see the end of these mega-Masses… or rather, if not the mega-Masses, at least the mega-Communion distributions.

    Let’s begin by axing WYD. The aussies are making a hash of it over here anyway.
    Organisers promised the government 500,000 and only 125,000 have registered. The latest thrill for me however is the Holy Father refusing to wear the goofy vestments that have been designed for the event. (Viva la Papa !)
    Sydney WYD was doomed to failure from the beginning – it was based on one of the most serious sins that being depriving a man of his just wages. The choice of Randwick Racecourse was the first big ‘NO NO’ . Randwick is not just a big vacant racecourse, it is a thriving industry where thousands of God fearin’ folk earn their daily bread working in the racing industry and ‘No’ compensation was not adequate. It is not that easy to relocate a fully functioning racing stable or for that matter a fine tuned champion – and just imagine what they’ll do to the grass there !!! – first big mistake.
    Second big mistake was the choice of ‘Gay loving’ Guy Sebastian to pound out the hyped up ‘hip-hop, power charged’ brainwashing chant for the event. Yuck !
    One can just imagine the abuse that will occur with the distribution of Holy Communion.

  36. Ron says:

    Fr. Z wrote:

    I sure hope one day to see the end of these mega-Masses… or rather, if not the mega-Masses, at least the mega-Communion distributions.

    Thank you Fr. Z!!!! I’ve also been troubled by the idea of these “mega-Masses” and cannot see how they can be reverent, how they can keep the proper intent and focus of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and how they don’t just end up spectacles and a show. Pray Our Sweet Lord one day gives us a better alternative or guides the Church somehow in this regard.

    I guess the question would be what else would we do? The Pope comes and simply don’t have a large scale Holy Mass? I don’t know what the answer is…

    Pax Christi tecum.

  37. Father Klingele says:

    The oddest thing (I having received good information but am not certain and welcome to correction) is that some priests will be concelebrating and some will be distributing Holy Communion. The priests concelebrating will not be distributing Holy Communion and the priests distributing Holy Communion will not be concelebrating (they have been asked to wear cassock and surplice). Will Msgr. Marini be the Umpire?

  38. The important score is Soccer 3, Baseball 3. I am hear to break the tie. There has never been a Pope that swung a baseball bat, however a Pope John Paul did play soccer. He started as a defender, and since he was awful, he became a ‘keeper.

    The Polish Pope even stopped a feud between two polish clubs that had raged for decades.

    The Vatican holds the Clericus Cup, and I guarantee there is no diamond with 60 feet of white lines marking a trail to bases and home.

    Baseball is not a world sport and is clearly the loser in this debate.

    Soccer 4, Baseball 3

  39. Kathleen says:

    I was intrigued by your objection to the 8 second rule. I’ve seen the extremely devout and orthodox priests at our parish distribute communion well within that time frame at ordinary Masses, with no loss of reverence or decorum. Why is it a problem?

  40. Kathleen: Who objected to the timing of 8 seconds?

  41. Lu says:

    All I can say is that the Holy Father can trample all over the grass at my place any time he wants. :)

  42. Geoffrey says:

    I love that graphic for the ever-deservedly-earned “Sour Grapes Award.” I hope I never win one!

  43. Chris says:

    I wonder how many receiving communion will do so while in a state of mortal sin?

  44. Chris says:

    I wonder how many receiving communion will do so while in a state of mortal sin?

  45. Maureen says:

    I wonder who made it your business to wonder?

    For all you know, every single person in those stadia will be in a state of grace. Even
    people who aren’t normally concerned about their souls are likely to feel that Confession
    would be a good preparation for a papal visit. Besides, you have no idea how many people
    go around committing mortal sins, and how many people are busied doing good works and not
    committing anything worse than a venial. If folks are willing to go to the trouble of
    applying for tickets, they probably are not the kind of people who commit murder or skip

  46. Brian Mershon says:

    Baseball is obviously God’s game. Sacrifice fly. Sacrifice bunt. The object is to go HOME.

    Soccer is obviously NOT God’s game as its purposefully spread through this great land of ours was promoted in the Communist manifesto. Communism is condemned by the Church.

    It also broke off the father passing down the sport he knew to his sons and so on.

    Soccer is played by those “athletes” who cannot play baseball, football or basketball. Which season is the soccer season? Seems like it is year-round to me.


  47. Barbara Rickman says:

    I want these mega masses to end because of the Ebay incident that took place after JPII died. You just don’t know who is getting that host and who has no respect for what is happening. I just can’t take someone trying to sell a sacred host on Ebay after Benedict dies!


  48. Le Renard says:

    I want these mega masses to end because of the Ebay incident that took place after JPII died. You just don’t know who is getting that host and who has no respect for what is happening. I just can’t take someone trying to sell a sacred host on Ebay after Benedict dies!

    Whether it’s at Yankee Stadium or at Our Lady of Peace parish, there will nevertheless be folks who might be obtaining the Host for unholy reasons — this includes (unfortunately enough) even Catholics themselves!

    Just ask Fr. Corapi re: hosts obtained at various parishes for such things as the Black Masses!

    At any rate, I for one love these “Stadium” Masses as they give witness to the CATHOLIC FAITH
    — the ONE, HOLY & APOSTOLIC TRUE Faith!

  49. gladiatrix says:

    Sorry Father Z

    But baseball is not the game that God loves most. Rugby is Heaven’s Game.

  50. Cassanda says:

    Favorite sport? baseball ?! soccer ?! rugby ?!

    Obviously, the Lord\’s favorite sport is lacrosse.

  51. Cassanda says:

    Favorite sport? baseball ?! soccer ?! rugby ?!

    Obviously, the Lord’s favorite sport is lacrosse.

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