Thursday, 25 July 2013

WYD 2013

It all looks and sounds quite weird to me, but World Youth Day has form, no matter who has been Pope, in this parade of nauseating cheesiness and atrocious music. It so reminds me of the honey glazed pap you hear on Monday nights at the local evangelical church that feed the homeless. They all hate it too, I think. The culture of celebrity and the music of the modern World is, in my opinion, whether it is popular or not, the last thing the Church should be offering to young people because they can find both of these pursuits outside of the Church very easily indeed. Musically, the Church should be an oasis of calm, a ship that sounds as if its floating on a sea of serenity even if the waves are climbing higher than the deck. Young people don't get much peace, certainly don't get much in the way of soul-calming, prayerful music and silence is so golden nowadays you can't even find it in a pawn shop.

Why is the Catholic Church going down this evangelical church glitzy music road? It speaks of artificial, or surface faith, as the musicians desperately attempt to conjour up emotion in that diabolical protestant way within the congregations. I hope and pray the Holy Father brings his customary humility and simplicity to WYD in Rio and crowns it with sobriety, modesty and dignity. He seems to be managing to do so thus far, appearing quite stoical at Our Lady of Aparacida, but His Holiness must really find this kind of elevation of his personality (and perhaps even the papacy itself) really quite discomforting. I always got the impression Pope Benedict XVI couldn't really abide so much attention and focus, which was always part of his appeal for me. We love you Holy Father! We love you Franciscus! Please can you ask the DJ to change the record now!

His Holiness Pope Francis has had an inspiring schedule in Rio so far, going to the poorest areas of the city, meeting with drug addicts (you are welcome in Brighton any time, Your Holiness, we've loads of them here), preaching the Gospel to huge crowds. At the Copa-copa-cabana, tonight, His Holiness had this to say:

'Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.'

Sorry, I couldn't resist that. To me that seems to be WYD in a nutshell only without the Catholic context. I hope it doesn't sound like snobbery, but there is no reason on God's green Earth that WYD should be so completely divorced from Catholic tradition, since love for the Pope and the Office of the Papacy is very much part of Catholic tradition. Why can't the Church put young people in touch with their real Catholic roots and identity instead of aping the evangelicals whose dirges and dances the Lord despises and whose faith is built on sand, not Rock.

Whenever the Church puts the young in touch with holy tradition it seems, in my short experience, to embed within the young substantial love and devotion to Jesus and Mary. Also, if the evangelicals are doing something, why not offer something different. The Catholic Church will never out-evangelical the evangelicals. The Church is too Catholic to do that.

At one Rio's most visible slums, His Holiness said:

'Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry – this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.'

Deo gratias. Amen. Don't get me wrong, here. Outpourings of love, affection and devotion to the Holy Father are a good display and profession of Catholic belief. During the Papal Visit to the United Kingdom I felt like I was in the seventh heaven. It was truly wonderful to be in the presence of the Successor of St Peter. I loved Benedict XVI the man as well, for his personal qualities of course, but the joy of it was to be so close to the man who treads in the blood of Christ and the martyrs and under whose Fatherly apostolic care and authority we duly and joyfully submit ourselves as Catholics.

I do worry a little only that WYD may encourage love of Benedict the man, Blessed John Paul II the man and Francis the man, though it has to be said that such widespread love of Benedict the man was not so apparent as the love and affection inspired by this Pope. Archbishop Chaput has put forward his own opinions on why this may be. I look forward to a rendition of Tu Es Petrus in Rio. Please God, let it be sung in polyphony or chant! Spare your people and spare Your Pope!

Thankfully, what remains of WYD for those who could not, would not, or did not attend are usually a flurry of homilies that go onto inspire not only those who were there, but those who were not. At WYD in Cologne Pope Benedict XVI presented some themes which have been taken up by Pope Francis which were later compiled into a small book called, 'God's Revolution'. The interesting thing for me is that when Pope Francis says things Pope Benedict XVI said, he seems to capture the audience and I can't quite figure out why that is, other than His Holiness has somehow managed to capture the imagination of both Catholics and non-Catholics simply by his personal charisma and outward gestures towards the forgotten. This is good, but let us also pray that renewed reverence and love for the Successor of St Peter enables those who find this Pope more 'loveable' than his predecessor find also the Teachings, the Magisterium and the Truth, Our Lord Jesus Christ - the message - as loveable as the messenger.

One conundrum is how the Catholic Church can attract evangelicals into full communion with the Successor of St Peter? Most evangelicals I meet are quite entrenched in their anti-Catholicism, as well as their distrust of the papacy. Music seems to be very important in the evangelical churches. Why not give this a bash? Whenever homeless friends of mine hear this they tend to say, "Play it again!"

And, finally...after millions of pounds spent on the Altar-stage that will not be used during the papal visit to Rio, are Judas and Our Lord momentarily in total agreement?


Patricius said...

So, who do you reckon this youth is?

Roses and Jessamine said...

Well, it is World YOUTH Day. How many teenagers do you know who can relate to Mozart? There's nothing wrong with any type of music as long as it gets kids to Mass.

Patricius said...

I am now in my fifties and one thing I recall about my youth is the fact that I didn't want to be patronised by anything that was presented as "for the youth". I was fifteen when the Beatles split up. That was the end of decent pop music. All that came afterwards was commercial pap. So perhaps I was a very odd youth. I am now a very odd adult: I go to mass.

Roses and Jessamine said...

God wants us to enjoy the vast and varied beauty of His creation, and our human creativity which reflects His. Let's not be too precious about what constitutes good and bad music. A child banging on a toy drum is making music. You might not want to listen to it, but others might.

The Bones said...

Roses, nothing on Earth is so holy as the Mass. We should surely there be as precious as we can be as to what music is played in the place of the sublime Sacrifice.

Celia said...

Francis is popular, as Archbishop Chaput says, with 'alienated' Catholics, Christians of other denominations and non-Christians; I would add dissenting Catholics, who are nursing the illusion (I hope) that he's a closet liberal. He's achieved this by knowing how to work a crowd (all those hugs), keeping off heavy topics (people love those folksy little sermonettes about gossiping, good atheists going to heaven)and above all not bringing with him the baggage of undertaking all the unpopular stuff for the previous Pope.

I don't find he's particularly liked by orthodox Catholics, who find the adulation rather nauseating. Do we really want a Pope who's endorsed by Elton John? Still, I've found the last few months spiritually quite useful, as I struggle to accept what I told others to accept during Benedict's reign: he's the Pope, you have to live with him.

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