Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brick by Brick-- From the Foundations Up

I've never successfully registered to comment over at Father Z's site - somehow my attempts get flagged as spam, so I'll have to respond to his latest post over here instead.

I don't see why people are throwing a fit over Francis's decision to celebrate Holy Thursday in a prison. He can't celebrate the Mass in the Lateran yet anyway, because he hasn't taken possession. Celebrating it at St. Peter's would turn it into a spectacle and a tourist attraction. But Holy Thursday is not supposed to be about Paparazzi and celebrity worship. Holy Thursday is about the beginning to the Tridium. Parish churches all over Rome will have their liturgies. The pope is currently parish-less, so why not reach out to the imprisoned, who also lack a parish for Mass?

Father Z. talks about rebuilding the church brick by brick. And saving the liturgy is very important-- but what if our new Pope has noticed that the foundations are also cracked? All the beautiful liturgy in the world will be worthless if we forget what's at the root. Francis wants to lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, but he also wants to remind us that we are a Church of sinners, and that Jesus didn't shun those who weren't pure enough or good enough or refined enough. Those people, the prisoners and the lepers, deserve a beautiful,reverent liturgy too, don't they?

Under Benedict, some of us embraced a new monasticism. We prepared to hunker down with our families, to keep the light alive as the world plunged into darkness. For eight years, we read, we learned, we prepared.  Some of us assumed that the time to shine forth wouldn't be for generations. We assumed that Benedict was preparing us to keep the flame alive for hundreds of years.

Now Francis is here, shouting that we must take the Gospel out into the world, bring the indifferent back to the Church, and proclaim Christ to all of our neighbors.  I think Benedict understood that it was time. He started liturgical reforms - when we bring others back to the Church, we can have a beautiful place prepared for them. But all the liturgical reform in the world won't do any good if we keep it to ourselves.

Francis isn't here to undo the Benedictine reforms. He's here to let us see that Liturgical reform must go hand and hand with evangelization. And we can't just limit ourselves to the members of the folk choir. We have to go out- to the prisoners, to the sick, to the unchurched. We have to find the people who don't know the love of Christ, and bring them into the warm embrace of their Mother, the Church. We need to baptize and bring the masses back to Mass. 

Francis isn't going to celebrate a folk mass at the prison. He loves those teens, and he wants them to know that their loved. He's going to go out of his way to give them something beautiful and magnificent. Just wait and see.