Thursday, April 17, 2008
All DC network channels cover Pope's Mass at National's Park; Oprah in tune with Pope's anti-materialism
Today, April 17, all major network stations in the Washington DC area broadcast the Mass by the Pope from Nationals Park on the Anacostia. The Pope “is listened to,” they say. Hopefully the Nats 's fortunes will reverse for the good after having their stadium host this event.
The Mass went off with clockwork perfection in perfect spring “post cherry blossom” weather, with no hitches at all. WJLA (ABC) had some technical difficulties, with a constant buzz in the broadcast. Pope Benedict gave his sermon early in the Mass, and kept it along the same lines as last night’s at the Basilica, discussed here yesterday. The "timid" Pope was critical of a society with overly secularized and narcissistic values. He did mention the priest abuse scandal, and said that the Vatican now takes the issue very seriously. News reports indicate that the Pope met with victims from Boston this afternoon, and this is the first time that a Pope has acknowledged the scandal publicly and talked to victims with this kind of candor. The Pope has said that he would rather have "good"priests rather than more priests, but it is clear that the requirement of celibacy now contributes to the priest shortage.
The Mass presented a lot of stirring music. The opening hymn was “All Creatures of our God and King” which was the official hymn of Washington area music clubs when I took piano back in the 1950s. Much of the music was “modern” such as a short cantata, “Let all the world in every corner sing,” by Domink Argento. The music had more polytonality and dissonance (comparable to that of Britten) than is common in most church services and would be hard for many church choirs to perform; the Pope seems to be a real music aficionado. I believe that I heard one Verdi opera chorus in the service. And there was one selection by Vaughn Williams.
I met some college students on the Metro who had attended. They said that Communion was given in the stands, and went very quickly, with a priest in each section. They had arrived at 7 AM. Breakfast was available from vendors. They also said that priests are no longer allowed to be with people under 18 (men or women) without other adults present.
The Pope also conducted a meeting at the Pope John Papal Center in NE Washington near the Basilica, with heads of four other religions. (Not among these, but interesting to me: I met the Dalai Lama myself at Amsterdam Schiphol in 2001).
On Friday, in New York City, the Pope gave another sermon, broadcast on CNN, where he said (something like this), "There must be a correlation between rights and responsibilities. A person should shoulder his or her responsibilities in choices he or she makes in relation with others' purposes [and circumstances and abilities], respecting the created order that supports individual and family identity."
The Pope gave Mass and homily in Yankee Stadium in New York Sunday April 20 at 2 PM EDT. At the close, the service played the entire finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (some of the first movement was played before the service), perhaps to honor the Pope's German origin, or perhaps because the Vatican is often credited with helping push the Berlin wall behind the scenes; Leonard Bernstein performed the work in Berlin on Christmas Day, 1989 (a DG recording).
Today, Oprah had a show in keeping with the Pope’s concern about excessive materialism: “What would you dare to live without?” link here. It does see that a couple families got “checked back in” by the weeklong exercise, one couple saying their marriage was stronger, as was their bonding with their kids. (Another family said that the daughter took too long in the shower to shave her legs.) Does this apply to everyone? Is doing with less about Lenten “giving up” (and accepting the need for more social connectedness, even if you have no kids) or is it just efficiency Oprah didn’t say what happens at her home, but she did say that in her movie company Harpo there had been changes, and gave an example about wasting coffee cups. Here are Oprah’s rules for this "social experiment."
Pictures: Inside Franciscan monastery chapel in NE DC; Papal Center