Wed., July 24
Globalization and the technological innovations driving it raise many moral questions and pastoral challenges. This was
experienced before. The invention of the printing press centuries ago pushed the Church into the difficult period of the Reformation. It is hard to imagine the Reformation without the extraordinary technological advance of the printing press. Today, religion, politics, business, and even sex are being redefined by the binomial brilliance of the byte. The disciples of Jesus may be, should be, uneasy as we move from parables given on the seashore to papal messages sent by twitter. (By the way, the staff pushed me on twitter. You can check it out on https://twitter.com/bishopsoto.)
Still, there are opportunities for those who grasp the beautiful of the divine innovation we call the Incarnation. Jesus took on our humanity to save us. The Church struggles in every age to draw humanity and all the best endeavors of humanity into the saving mystery of Jesus. We can too easily despair of this happening. Pope Francis has reminded us today at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, “Christians cannot be pessimists!” Every now and again, there comes a good reason not to do so.
So, I was celebrating Mass today in Rio de Janeiro. After the closing doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer in Portuguese, “Through Him and with Him ….”, I smiled as the choir sang A-AA-men, A-AA-men, A-A-men, Amen, Amen. For those who cannot figure out my clumsy onomatopoeia, think back to the old film, The Lilies of the Field, with Sydney Poitier, 1963. Sydney Poitier, gets the nuns in a small convent to sing an old Black Spiritual. This old hymn has found its way into many Catholic liturgies as the Great Amen to the Eucharistic Prayer. I regularly would hear it in jail while celebrating Mass. The inmates wanted to sing it just like Sydney Poitier did in the movie. Well, here I was listening to an old African-American Spiritual sung at a Portuguese Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Was a 50 year old movie still influencing liturgical music or was Catholic tradition doing what it always does in storing the treasure trove of humanity’s goodness for the greater glory of God?
On another note, this evening, most of the Sacramento delegation and I joined the youth pilgrims from the United States and their bishops in a beautiful holy hour of Eucharistic adoration. There was about 3 thousand, I figure, of the approximately 9 thousand American youth in attendance. In the song and the silence the young congregation was able to savor the wondrous mystery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was a good way to end another day of WYD 2013.
Sunday, July 28
It is 4 p.m. on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. The music from the main stage of World Youth Day, 2013 has just finished with one last version of the theme song, “Cristo nos convida: “Vehham, meus amigos!” Cristo nos envia: “Sejam missionários!” (Christ invites us: “Come, my friends.” Christ sends us: “Be missionaries!”) The long shadows of the late sunny afternoon are extending over Copacabana Beach. There are still a good number of young pilgrims enjoying the surf and sand of Rio. Enough so that the coast guard is still patrolling on jet skis for those who fall unsuspectedly under the powerful pull of the waves. Most have found their way back to their homes or hotels. Certainly, the airports are already congested with travelers making their way back to all the many places on the globe from which they came.
The report was that three million young people and families! came for the closing Mass. I attended both the vigil yesterday evening and the Mass this morning. Both events bring to a culmination the “Jornada” of the youth. “Jornada” means day or journey, an interesting overlap of meaning. Whether Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, or French — a version of this word “jornada” is used. So, it was a dramatic conclusion to a surprising jornada…
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