Sunday, November 3, 2013

Outdoor Masses

Interesting topic, at least to me: the pastor of St. Ann's church, Fr. Joy Mampilly, recently celebrated the Mass at South Beach, with a small part of the congregation in attendance. The occasion was to mark the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, during which 1 of the parish's members was killed. There was really no reason to hold the Mass on the beach, except to excite emotion among the participants. In fact, the Redemptoris Sacramentum states explicitly:

Chapter V

1. The Place for the Celebration of Holy Mass
[108.] The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise. In this case the celebration must be in a decent place. The diocesan Bishop shall be the judge for his diocese concerning this necessity, on a case-by-case basis.

There was no necessity to celebrate this Mass outdoors, such as the Pope does in the event of gigantic crowds, or as happens on the battlefield in wartime. This was done for mere dramatic effect and for sentimentality. And was permission given by the Cardinal? So what will be the result? Yet another blow against sacredness and sacramentality. Why have Mass in a church? Why even go to Mass? Let's worship God in His own great outdoors! Young women, already indoctrinated by wedding shows on basic cable to yearn for scenic outdoor weddings, will rightly ask why their priest cannot bless their marriage on the beach, or on a cruise ship, at the country club or on the top of Mount Moses, rather than in some stuffy church with all those grim statues and crucified Jesus. Will the pastor of St. Ann's church have a convincing answer?


Anonymous said...

I think the outdoor masses are a very poor idea, especially in a typically windswept area like a beach; one shudders to think of the many potential ways in which the Eucharist could be (whether unintentionally or not) desecrated/profaned.

On a somewhat related note: I have come across accounts of a World Youth Day (not sure which year) where entire ciboria (tupperware I think--bad enough) were afterward found in public trash bins still full of unconsumed hosts.

This year's WTD, apparently EMHC's (called "Eucharistic Ministers," I'm sure) were distributing sacred hosts from disposable plastic cups, which were later thrown in the trash.

Staten Pilgrim said...

Good Lord, that's a horrible story about WYD. It goes to show the Protestant and even secular spirit of those events and so much of today's "Catholic" youth.

To reminisce: I recall a story I was told by the nun who was instructing my class for First Communion. Or maybe it was the priest who taught my altar boy class. In any case, the story went that during a Mass our instructor had attended, the ultimate disaster occurred: the Host slipped from the communicant's mouth, and the paten couldn't prevent it from falling to the floor. The priest immediately stopped the distribution of Communion. He collected the visible elements of the Host off the floor and then somehow marked off and protected the area on which the Host fell, using a bowl or some such object. After he finished Mass, in order to ensure that not one microscopic crumb of Christ's Body was left in the fibers of the carpet to be trampled underfoot, he ripped up the carpeting in an area about a foot around the place the Host fell and then disposed of it in a respectful manner (by burning, I would think.) Now, that story made such an impression on me that it sticks in my mind these several decades later as a remarkably radical action, but one that is perfectly appropriate for someone who believes in the Real Presence.

I contrast that with the time I witnessed a Eucharistic Minister drop the Host on the floor and then simply pick it up and eat it. I regret that I was too cowardly to stand up, scream "Stop!" and insist that the procedure I just related by imitated.