From a reader:
I’m a regular reader of your blog who lives in Madrid, Spain. Today there was an outdoor Mass to commemorate the Feast of the Holy Family, which aimed to draw attention to the importance of the Christian family and its values in today’s world, and how these values are being threatened by such forces as anti-life government policies (especially here in Spain). Despite a cold, overcast, day, an estimated one million people attended! You can see photo galleries and videos here:
This aerial view (taken from the roof of a skyscraper on one side of Plaza Colon, where the Mass was celebrated) gives you an idea of how huge the crowd was:
The entire area was about as packed as the detail below, throughout the entire Plaza Colon (which is the biggest in Madrid) and the adjacent boulevards feeding into it (note the Spanish flag with a Sacred Heart where the national coat of arms usually goes):
Regardless of how one feels about these kinds of outdoor mega-Masses, the fact that hundreds of thousands of people braved nasty weather (there was even a snow alert on the radio) to witness to their convictions and their faith – in the middle of the Christmas holiday period, when half the city is away on vacation – looks like a positive sign.
I was in Madrid last week while they were preparing for this. There have been a couple of these mass gatherings, which the press – or at any rate, El Pais, Spain’s equivalent of the NY Times – traditionally ignores, just the way the US press ignores the annual March for Life, no matter how many people turn up. Madrid’s Cdl Rouco has been very strong in defending the church – and by extension, the family – from attacks by the hostile Spanish government of Zapatero. He made it clear that this was not a confrontational event, but a public liturgy of thanksgiving and praise. I saw a great photo of priests hearing confessions along the fence in front of the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library).
I should also mention that there were some 30 bishops at the event, and the list of who attended and who didn’t is very interesting. Almost all of the recent appointments were there – if you read the Spanish blog La Ciguena de la Torre, you can get the details.
Those pictures are great! I love it! For all those who think the Faith is dead in Europe you are wrong. I go to France each year and I am amazed at the great Faith found there. Our holy family is alive in Europe, they just don’t make the newspapers that often.
Very encouraging. A few years ago, one of President Zapatero’s ministers warned him about taking the Church on. Spain, much like the Church in the USA, is undergoing a long-awaited renaissance within its hierarchy…and Deo gratias for it! The above mentioned blog and its running commentary on which bishops attended, and which were notably absent.. strikes me so similar to the increasingly bold and confrontational debate within the American hierarchy. Very interesting to see how the soon-to-retire Cardinal-archbishop of Seville (Spain’s Cardinal Mahony) has been paired with a very orthodox and conservative coadjutor (and current bishop of Cordoba).
I’m wondering how they possibly distribute the Blessed Sacrament to all those worshipers?
That said, I’d love it if something like this happened in my city.
Robert – I read that the distribution of Communion at this mass was not one of its most successful features. Normally, they do what is done at a big papal mass: there will be people holding large umbrellas with the papal colors scattered throughout the crowd, and a priest stands under the umbrella and distributes Communion to the people who make their way to the umbrella closest to them. However, I guess they had a number of technical problems with this mass. The Papal message was broadcast late, some priests never made it to the umbrellas, and they don’t seem to have consecrated enough hosts. But these were just glitches in what was otherwise a great (if extremely chilly!) event.
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