Sunday, April 20, 2008

not done yet

"Enough already about the Pope," said the comment I received yesterday. That sentiment is mild compared to some of the remarks left on the News Sentinel's website (here and here). People who do not understand the Pope's role were quick to criticize him and his Catholic flock.

Pope Benedict's trip resonated with me for several reasons. I'm a cradle Catholic who grew up in the New York and Washington suburbs. When we moved to California, my wife and I missed our families. We were drawn to the church where we found comfort in the familiarity of our parish community. On this visit, the Pope is traveling to places that are significant to me. Yesterday he was in Yonkers, the city where I lived until college. Today he was at Yankee Stadium, where I've been several times, mostly for football games but for a few baseball games too. This morning he prayed at Ground Zero, where my cousin heroically perished.

I got an email yesterday from radio newsman Dave Schreiber, a former co-worker at WAVA. I haven't heard from Dave in ages but he was so moved by the Pope's visit to the Park East Synagogue that he had to tell somebody. I'm glad he thought of me.

While I watched the various Papal events, I thought of the people I knew who were in attendance. My daughter was at the White House on Wednesday. My mother and my sister were at Nationals Park on Thursday. Our friend Fr. Ragan Schriver was also at both D.C. ceremonies. Our parish youth minister led a group to New York for the Mass at Yankee Stadium. As I wrote on Friday, several priests we know represented Knoxville during the Pope's visit.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who provides commentary on EWTN, surprised me with his criticism of the Mass at Nationals Park. He expressed his displeasure over the multicultural exhibition, particularly in the selection of music. I was taught that the word catholic (with a small "c") meant universal. It seems xenophobic to expect a Mass of that magnitude to be all-English with only old-school hymns.

Fr. Neuhaus didn't care much for the music at Saturday's Youth Rally either. I have only seen bits and pieces of it on the Internet. I heard a version of "Ave Maria" sung by Kelly Clarkson; a song I remember from Burbank called "Pan de Vida" and a version of my favorite "Litany of the Saints."

The big Masses at St. Finbar Church were usually tri-lingual affairs. The parishioners who spoke Spanish and Vietnamese wanted to feel at home as much as I did. Aren't they entitled to the same feeling of comfort?

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