Patricius commented on my previous post about the Holy Father’s visit; and because I think it’s an entirely reasonable question – and is probably one felt, if not echoed aloud, by many others – I think it deserves as reasonable an answer as I can give.
What he asked was : ‘What is so dignified about having a huge Mass in some ungodly place like a football stadium? I would rather the Pope celebrated Liturgy with the Oratory Fathers at Birmingham, did his canonization business and then went to a large field to preach to large crowds about Newman rather than downgrade the fundamental importance of the Sacred Liturgy just because some enthusiast wants to see the Pope …’
Now; in some ways I would agree with him. My personal taste would certainly be to avoid anything that crowded : but at the same time I would happily go to anything celebrated by the Holy Father with an unrestricted entry, simply because I think that there is more to this than a question of liturgical taste . . . although a football stadium is no use . . . because it’s not enough people. I’m thinking about a venue which would take a minimum of 250,000, and preferably more than that . . . and I accept that in one way that isn’t likely to be ‘dignified’; but what it would do is allow the Catholics of England & Wales to show the world, quite unmistakably, their devotion to, and respect for, the Holy Father.
If the only motivation was about the Faithful ‘wanting to see the Pope’, again, I would sympathize with his viewpoint; but it’s not. This is about making a very clear statement to the world that we are prepared to stand up and be counted for our faith.
I don’t know if you know that comment that The Crescat has on her sidebar ? ‘The time of persecution is coming. If brought up on charges of being a Catholic I hope there's enough evidence to convict me.’
Well, that’s sort of where I was coming from when I suggested that it would have been a good thing to have had events to which hundreds of thousands could have gone. There are apparently a lot of people out there who think that the Catholic Faith is out of date, foolish, malign, and indeed even worse; and that it is very much a ‘minority sport’ nowadays, agreed with only by a tiny minority of mentally insignificant people . . . and I believe it would be very valuable to have had an opportunity to remind these people that they are not in the majority . . . that there are a lot more Catholics out there than they might think, that many of them are of high intellectual stature and integrity, and that those Catholics are not ashamed to stand up and be counted.
Yes, I would rather the Holy Father canonized Newman in a seemly Mass of Beatification at the Birmingham Oratory; I would rather that every word of the Papal liturgy in the UK was in Latin, every note of the music was chant, and every detail of the liturgy strictly traditional . . . but I recognize that that preference is selfish; because the Holy Father is our Pope, not just mine, and so it is right – indeed it’s important – that he finds common ground with all of us, and not just those who agree with me.
However, what I do think is important is that it can be clearly seen that he is doing this; and that can only happen if the great majority – as opposed to the tiny minority – of Catholics can attend his events in the UK . . . which, as things stand at present, they can’t.
Those – and essentially only those – are the reasons why I have continuously suggested that we should all have had the chance to attend the Papal functions; so that we could all, in our millions, have the chance to stand up and be counted . . . and similarly, why all the public Papal events should be Masses – so that our devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament could be clearly seen by the world : because I want to stand there and be identified as a faithful Catholic . . . and as things stand at present, I can’t; and neither can hundreds of thousands of others : and it’s that that I deplore.