Punk Catholic Update
Two years ago, at around the same liturgical time, I explained why the flat-screen monitors that my parish church has hung up around the sanctuary are an evil rather than a good. Well, I guess the priest who offered the Mass I heard today isn't a big reader of my blog. =P For he likes to use the screens not just to make sure everyone sees what he is doing at the altar, but also to give a fully illustrated slide show presentation during his homilies. (I close my eyes to keep from weeping.)
Another temporary addition that we've had these days is a special prayer for the visit of Pope Francis, who is scheduled to arrive this week. (Yes, the prayer is flashed on the screens after Communion. How did you ever guess?) Well, after we had said that and had stood up for the final blessing, Father said, "I know that a lot of people are planning to go to the Quirino Grandstand for the concluding Mass with Pope Francis, but I suggest just staying home and watching the Mass on TV. It will be safer and more convenient, and you'll see him better--whereas you could join the crowds and not see him at all. So just stay home and get a good view from your TV. That's so much better, don't you agree?"
That is probably the closest I've ever come to starting a shouting match at Mass.
To be fair to Father, there is another context to his remarks that we should consider. Earlier this week, Manila saw another huge crowd of Catholics during the feast of the translation of the Black Nazarene from St. Nicholas Tolentino church to the Minor Basilica of St. John the Baptist, which is the image's current home. The devotees observed it as they always do--in a way that drives non-Catholics crazy, makes converts uncomfortable, and occasionally embarrasses even cradle Catholics. I have a more detailed explanation on my old, forgotten blog: The Feast of the Black Nazarene. (Note the scandalised convert in the combox.) Anyway, this year, the crowd of devotees swelled to over one million. And two of them died.
The crowds for Pope Francis are bound to be even larger. (The Philippines still holds the record for the biggest World Youth Day audience, when Pope John Paul II visited in 1995.) And that naturally makes some people nervous. We can't really blame a shepherd for wanting his sheep to stay alive: Father was just being pastoral. With great respect for his office, however, he was also being wrong. It's not better to to watch something on TV instead of being there when it happens, especially when that something happens to be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Of course, the irony for both Father and myself is that there will be huge television screens set up at Quirino Grandstand for the papal Mass. =P So we can be there and get that "good view"--though as I explained two years ago, the view doesn't matter as much as we think it matters.
And if things get out of control and someone else dies? Well, here's your Punk Catholic bonus:
Dying in the middle of a devotion is a great way to go.
Image Source: Nazareno 2015