Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Nationals Stadium Mass

Just finished watching EWTN's coverage of the papal Mass at Nationals Stadium. I have to say I agree with Fr. Neuhaus about the mishmash of musical selections, which I recall him describing as "preening" and "self-indulgent." Pretty clearly, the extreme variety of music was meant to mirror the multiculturalism of the United States, which in influential circles is seen as something extraordinarily virtuous.

In practice, multiculturalism means that every event has to be culturally pot-luck, because we wouldn't want to say we actually prefer one over the other. Whatever the benefits may be of having everyone contribute something of their own, we've all been to pot-lucks that were gastronomic disasters. Musically, this Mass was like sitting down to a dinner of dimsum, pemmican, doughnuts and creamed corn. At such a dinner, it's true that each diner might find something to his liking, but if you have to eat it all -- well, pass the Alka-Seltzer.

Given Benedict's well-known preference for Gregorian Chant, Renaissance polyphony and classical settings of sacred texts, it would have been more polite to let him offer a Mass with music that made him feel comfortable. That's what we do with guests, isn't it? Make them feel comfortable? Instead, the powers that be made him preside over a Mass that made them feel comfortable.

On the other hand, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, I suppose. Those same powers have been shoving their style at us for forty years now, and insisting that we better like it.