When I first read The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983, about eight years ago, I was struck by Father Schmemann's commentary on the Masses celebrated in Yankee Stadium by Pope Paul VI in 1965 and by Pope John Paul II in 1979. The boldface is my own. Father Schmemann asks some hard questions.
Wednesday, October 3, 1979
The Pope of Rome is in New York. We watched him on television in Yankee Stadium. A mixed impression. On one hand, an unquestionably good man and full of light. Wonderful smile. Very genuine — a man of God. But, on the other hand, there are some "buts"! First of all, the Mass itself. The first impression is how liturgically impoverished the Catholic Church has become. In 1965, I watched the service performed by Pope Paul VI in the same Yankee Stadium. Despite everything, it was the presence, the appearance on earth of the eternal, the "super earthly. Whereas yesterday I had the feeling that the main thing was the "message." This message is, again and again, "peace and justice," "human family," "social work," etc. An opportunity was given, a fantastic chance to tell millions and millions of people about God, to reveal to them that more than anything else they need God! But here, on the contrary, the whole goal, it seemed, consisted in proving that the Church also can speak the jargon of the United Nations. All the symbols point the same way: the reading of the Scriptures by some lay people with bright ties, etc. And a horrible translation: I never suspected that a translation could be a heresy: Grace — "abiding love"!
Crowds — their joy and excitement. Quite genuine, but at the same time, it is clear that there is an element of mass psychosis. "Peoples' Pope . . ." What does this really mean? I don't know. I am not sure. Does one have to serve Mass in Yankee Stadium? But if it's possible and needed, shouldn't the Mass be, so to say, "super-earthly," separated from the secular world, in order to show in the world — the Kingdom of God?
Monday, April 14, 2008
Fr. Schmemann on Papal Mass in Yankee Stadium
Father Mark blogs on the great Father Alexander Schmemann's journal of the papal Mass of Pope Paul VI many years ago, from Vultus Christi: