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« On Casseroles | Main | Pope Thought Of the Day »
Monday
Apr212008

Servant Of The Servants Of God

We now bring you to Blonde Champagne's coverage of B16's Mass in Yankee Stadium and evening departure, with color commentary provided by Jim The Small Child Nephew and Will The Baby Nephew:

JIM THE SMALL CHILD NEPHEW: Where's he going in his car? He has to go potty. He's four. Why does he keep taking his hat off? He has glasses! They play baseball in there, too? Can James go to church there? Where does he live?  Baby Will, the Pote is leaving! He's going away in his airplane!

WILL THE BABY NEPHEW: Bye bye.

B16: God bless America!

...And there you have it. "Benedict made America smile," my mother decided, but it broke my heart a little bit to see him surrounded at all times by two members of the Secret Service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, their arms meeting about him in the middle, muscling aside nuns wearing the habits of Mother Theresa's order. Because if you can fling your Rosary within ten feet, the terrorists win.

His sermon that day was downright literary, formed along the architecture of the cathedral itself, and during the recessional I have never seen Catholics so rambunctious since I worked the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus steak booth at a home game, and we started feeding the priests for free. They were standing on the pews, reaching out, pumping arms in the air, cheering, holding cameras above the head-- nuns and priests!

Everywhere B16 went, he faced a forest of arms holding up silver electronic eyes. "He was surprised by love," Peggy Noonan said on Catholic C-SPAN as the Pope knelt at Ground Zero, and I watched the flags snap and tensed every part of me when a cornering, damp wind refused to allow him to fire up a candle there. Someone stepped in with a Bic, and light and warmth triumphed. He sprinkled holy water, blessed the broken ground. In a world where words are thoughtlessly used as electronic weaponry--and I include myself in this indictment--he wrote and spoke to bind.

The music of New York was unapologetically grand and ancient: Cascading violins, German chant, the Franz Biebel setting of the Ave Maria (holla, Glee Club!) Where my fellow citizens of the Extreme Northern Swamp applauded politely, New York roared, and I do believe for the first time in my life I was witness to screaming and cheering at the start of a Mass. Someone unfurled a POPE! banner on the upper deck, and the Archdiocese of New York also busted out the nylon doves on sticks, not to mention actual doves. Normally I'm not a fan of the liturgical ribbon-flinging, but hey. It's POPE!

Where the DC Mass was national and carefully balanced, the New York liturgies were regional and rambunctious. Cardinal Egan read the names of the diocese celebrating bicentennials this year, complete with warm-up action from the crowd: Baltimore ("WHOOOOOOOOOO!") Boston ("WHOOOOOOOO!", mixed with, I'm thinking, a somewhat anti-Red Sox "BOOOOOOOO!") New York ("RRRRRAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!") Philadelphia, "WHOOOOOOOOOO!") and Louisville ("WHOOOOOOOOOO!") I'm telling you, we need to do a roll call at every Mass. "OK, now everybody who observes the Good Friday fast!" ("WHOOOOOOOOOO!")

The Gospel was chanted, and although I'd just heard it a few hours before at vigil Mass, it was as if I'd heard it for the very first time. The cadence forced a slowing, a contemplation, and I wondered where the words of Christ had been all this time, lost in the weekend flurry, crammed in between a soccer game and a committee meeting, drowned under the waving arms of "LOOK AT MEEEEEEE!" performances and trampled in the rush for the parking lot.

For a man who didn't much want to become Pope--he twice asked The Deuce to allow him to retire, and planned to do so under his new boss, and go live in a cabin with his priest-brother and play piano and write--he seems to enjoy the task. When his name was announced that April day in St Peter's Square, there was a barely muffled moaning from some corners. He was too old, too rigid, too non-peopley. But now: "We Want the Pope!" and young seminarians tumbling off chairs as they reached to him. The stone which the builders rejected had become the cornerstone.

Yes, it was a good weekend to be Catholic. Particularly when the church we attended this weekend announced a reception for new members, and busted out pizza. Not generi-box pizza. I am talking Domino's, with toppings. It recitfied many weeks of doughnetless mornings. Here I loved my Papa the most, for he had relieved me from cooking dinner. We chatted all things Papal, and learned that at the DC Mass, one of the parish priests was plucked from the nosebleed section to concelebrate, which meant that he was able to sit on the field itself. "The Pope was this big," he said, holding up part of his pinky finger, and admitted to feeling sad at his back-of-the-line position... until B16 rolled right past him in the Popemobile. The pastor, watching from the bleachers, grabbed a telephoto lens and captured the moment.

"The stone which the builders rejected," he said, "had become the cornerstone."

all the B16 prayer cards in the back of church are totally snapped up at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (1)

I wish I had the kind of faith in the Catholic Church and B16 that you and Mike The Reader have. It all sounds so beautiful... Alas, I just feel not-so-much when I go to Mass. *Sigh*

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnne From Iowa
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