20 May 2013

Pentecost Papal Parade by Popemobile

Well, 'parade' is probably the wrong word, but I liked the alliteration.

At the end of Mass on Pentecost, the Pope greets the people on the Popemobile.  Below is a very short video at the very end of the route, as Pope Francis heads back into Vatican City.

Taking Pictures During Mass

I try when I can to avoid taking pictures during the big Masses, so most of these are either before or after the Mass. I did try to take a video of the entrance procession with the Pope at Pentecost.  But I did not realize that my camera was out of space, so the video stopped just before he entered (a sign from God, perhaps?), and it took me a second to realize what was wrong.

The main reason I don't take pictures is because I think it is disrespectful to do so during Mass.  The second reason is so that photos like this never happen (look in the upper-right corner of the photo):

That will teach me.

Pentecost, the Pantheon, and Rose Petals

One of the great liturgical events in Rome each year is on Pentecost at the Pantheon.  The Pantheon was originally a pagan temple, built in first century or so.  It is unusually in that the dome of the building is open--there is a large hole at the top of the ceiling to let in sunlight (and also rain, wind, and the occasional snow).

The feast of Pentecost recalls the event detailed in the Acts of the Apostles, occurring 50 days after Our Lord's Resurrection:

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Acts 2:1-4

The feast is often referred to as the "Birthday of the Church", and focuses especially on the coming of the --Holy Spirit, as promised by Christ.  The symbolism of the day is the color red--originating from the description of the tongues of flame.  Say what you will about the Romans, but they love a good spectacle.  So, this event of Pentecost is given firmer form here in Rome when thousands of red rose petals are dropped down from the hole of the Pantheon (fittingly enough, by Roman firemen, I'm told) after the main Mass of the day.  

I was not able to attend this year, but I did see it last year.  Here are my pictures form Pentecost 2012 at the Pantheon:

Pentecost Sunday

This year was a beautiful and bright Sunday for the feast of Pentecost in Rome.  They usually need a lot of priests and deacons (and occasionally, seminarians) to help distribute communion.  Like every Vatican event, this requires a ticket.  So, I was able to obtain one, as I did for the Easter Sunday Mass.  There were far fewer dignitaries at this Mass than there were for Easter, so I was able to sit much closer to the Pope than I did for Easter Mass.  Here was my view for the Mass:

I thought at Easter they had far too few priests helping with the distribution of Holy Communion.  For the Mass at Pentecost, they had way, way too many.  There must have been 200 priests, deacons, and seminarians distributing Holy Communion.  For Mass, we sit together up near where the altar is.  During the offertory for Mass, we are taken into St. Peter's Basilica.  This time we went in a line to the Immaculate Conception chapel, where they had prepared hundreds of ciboria with hosts.  The are rather plain brass ciboria.  The innovation is that they have a clear plastic top that revolves.  This allows you to see how many hosts are there.  You can also slide a top piece to create an opening, and then slide it back to cover everything in the ciborium and keep them safe from the elements.

We then stand in the Basilica for the Mass, holding the ciboria with the hosts for the consecration.  Towards the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, we are brought outside to take our place among the 200,000 or so people gathered for Mass.  Some of the people distributing have guides with yellow and white umbrellas to show them where to go.  I just followed the line until one of the Italian staff pointed to a place by the barricades for me to distribute.  Then you give out as many hosts as possible.

To minimize the chances for desecration--accidental or intended--communion is given out only on the tongue, with the Latin verse Corpus Christi.  So, you have lots of people sticking their hands at you, and you have to tell them only on the tongue.  (And I also make the men remove their hats first).  This means they have to get close for me to be able to give them communion.  The problem is when you give communion at the barriers that mark the route of the Popemobile.  People want to be right at the barricade to get the best view of the Pope when he goes by--and they do not want to give up their spot.  So people behind them want to receive communion, but the people with their spots at the barricade will not move out of the way.  The most creative solution I saw was the family that simply ducked to get out of the way, and still keep their spot.

Here are the pictures from Mass at St. Peter's:

06 May 2013

Media Bias in New Jersey

I have said before that the media is often biased against the Catholic Church.  By that I do not mean that the media is biased simply whenever they put out a negative story about the Church's leaders or members.  The Church is full of sinners--that's rather the point of it--and especially when those in positions of trust abuse that trust, that it is fair to report as news.  The problem comes when the media holds the Church to a very different standard.

A case in point is the recent unfortunate facts that have come to light in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, regarding a priest who confessed to criminal sexually contact of a child some years ago.  In this post I try to point out the double-standard in the mainstream media (in this case the Newark Star Ledger) and why this bias damages, not the Church primarily, but the public at large.