April 16, 2008

I'm Robbo the Llama And I May Be Going To Hell

The WaPo Blog had a brief article yesterday on how Dee Cee's Nationals Park is being readied for Benedict's celebration of Mass there tomorrow:

As explained by Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl yesterday afternoon, the pontiff will enter the park via right field, and, at 9:30 a.m., do a lap of the field in the popemobile.

Then he'll exit, change into vestments for the Mass and re-emerge.

This afternoon, workers were covering the field and starting to erect the stage, which is in the centerfield area. (In other words, if you ended up with tickets behind home plate, you're kind of far away from the action, unlike a Nats' game.)

Wuerl vows that everything will be ready.

Advertising (even the big stuff flanking the jumbotron) will be covered up and, no, of course they won't be selling beer on Thursday.

Those with the closest seats are the two sections flanking the stage. Stage right will be the choirs and stage left will be high school and college students. There are also about 5,000 seats on the field. (Warning: if you know you have a seat on the field, eat a huge breakfast. You won't have access to the snack bars and the little snack they're going to give you when you arrive won't go very far).

"When the Mass starts, I think we're going to recognize that we have been successful at taking this venue and making it a holy space--a sacred space," said a beaming Wuerl. He spent yesterday afternoon touring the site. "I think you are going to see that Nationals Park became a church--if only for one day."

But before that are lots of logistics. Wuerl pledges that they can get 46,000 people through Communion in less than 20 minutes. Three-hundred deacons will be stationed around the park, so Catholics won't have to leave their section to receive the body and blood of Christ.

Emphasis added. In fact, I've been idly wondering over the past few days just how the heck the Host could be distributed to 46,000 people, especially people stacked up in stadium seating, in anything under about five hours. And for some reason, I keep having visions of squads of deacons armed with those tee-shirt cannons they use during games:

"Cardinal Smithers! Some more shots down the left field line!"

I kid. I KID! St. Vitus, ora pro nobis!

No, btw, I won't be going. However, I know some people who are, and whom I am sure will tell you all about it.

Posted by Robert at April 16, 2008 10:26 AM | TrackBack

Sac-ra-ment! Get yer Sacrament hee-yah!

Hope the priest-vendor has a good enough arm to reach the end of the row!

Posted by: MCNS at April 16, 2008 12:55 PM

It is, of course, instructive to note that Scripture recalls that the Good Lord only fed as many as three to five thousand at a sitting.

I myself think that a Mass of that size is probably not a good idea, if only because the chances of sacramental abuse -- a spilled chalice, a trampled host, a host stolen for use for profane purposes -- statistically begin to approach the inevitable. Given Catholic beliefs of what the Eucharist is, if I were the pope, I'd probably opt to do a reading of the Liturgy of the Hours instead. There are probably very many Catholics who disagree with me; clearly the Vatican is proceeding with it, my position is merely my own personal opinion. I wish the battalion of priests and deacons luck and hope everything goes well.

I myself attended a mass where there were over half a million people present, which was John Paul II's mass on Boston Common in 1978 or 1979 (I cannot remember which year he visited). It was quite an event.

Posted by: The Abbot at April 16, 2008 01:27 PM

So is this going to be one of those situations where Jesus saves, but Moises gets the win?

Posted by: rbj at April 16, 2008 02:13 PM

Actually, I was wondering if someone couldn't persuade the Pontiff to put some kind of blessing on the Park, cos Lawd knows that the Nats shore do need it!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at April 16, 2008 03:10 PM

This is the big reason why the Holy Father, himself, is not fond of these productions. From what I have read, I expect changes soon such as offering Mass without distributing to the faithful. Historically speaking, this would not be unusual.

Posted by: Mike at April 16, 2008 03:45 PM

That is a shame that you won't be able to go Robert. What a capper it would have been to your conversion. How does one even get tickets for something like this?
Also, the short article says that a snack will be handed out to those in the infield. I thought you weren't supposed to eat before communion.

Posted by: Babs at April 16, 2008 06:21 PM

Fasting is one hour (water and medicine permitted), under the Novus Ordo mass; from midnight, under the extraordinary rite. This is a Novus ordo, and the mass may well be so long that one could eat and the beginning, and meet the fasting requirement by communion.

Posted by: The Abbot at April 17, 2008 06:55 AM