Friday, October 2, 2009

A Mixed Bag of Memories on an Anniversary Day

Happy Friday to you all. This is an important day here in Chicago, as you all well know. The "decision" will be made in a few hours in Copenhagen regarding the site for the 2016 summer Olympic Games. Many people have asked me what my position is on this whole thing. I am hoping that another city is named. Our transit system (which I use on a very regular basis) is quite poor. Too many neighborhoods are not safe. Too many children are killed by gang violence. Our city's political structure is riddled with cronyism. We have a city council that is paralyzed because of its members' fear of confronting the mayor on any serious policy decisions. Chicago, which I believe is one of the great cities of the world, is just not ready for this kind of event. And, frankly, I don't want to pay for this. Taxes are too high as it is. I simply don't trust the leadership. My two cents.

Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II's first visit to the United States. He's shown above being driven through the streets of a very rainy Boston on October 2, 1979. I was a seminarian in Boston at the time and had the privilege of being one of the organists for the Papal Mass on Boston Common. Here's a link to a YouTube video of the homily. I was a bright-eyed, naive, young man of the Church at the time. I remember being interviewed on one of the local television stations and saying "This is incredible; this is incredible." I was super excited and was not disappointed when the moment arrived. I was playing the opening song, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," and I looked up from the music and saw the pope turn the corner of the platform and look right at me. It was exhilarating. 

As I reflect back on the last thirty years, I remember this man with very mixed emotions. He put into place liturgical legislation that, I believe, has restricted the flourishing of Spirit-inspired creativity in the Church's liturgical life. Under his leadership, many bishops were appointed who, in my opinion, lack the intelligence and pastoral sense to be true shepherds. This is perhaps his most lamentable legacy. He certainly thrilled young people wherever he went, as he did me on October 2, 1979. But what went on behind the scenes, especially in the appointment of bishops, leaves me with a deep sense of disappointment. So today is a day of mixed emotions for me. But I still hear his words deep in my heart as I recall them echoing off the sides of the skyscrapers in Boston on that rainy day: "Follow Christ!"

I hope you have a terrific weekend. I am headed to a parish in Hammond, Indiana tomorrow morning to offer a morning of reflection for the parish's liturgical ministers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Linda Reid said...

"I remember this man with very mixed emotions"

I thoroughly agree with your assessment of his papacy

Anonymous said...

From Margie...
I, too, agree. During the 1970's I had such high expectations of the progress in the church to seek out and acknowledge the wisdom of the laity...especially women. Now, I am frustrated and deeply saddened at what appears to be a retrenchment of clericalism. Also, there are so few bishops and priests with a real vision of what church can and should be both within local parish life and, by extension, out in the world.

MusicLefty said...

You got your wish. Instead, Rio got the Olypmics. Brazil is a very Catholic country. Something like 145 million Catholics....and a concrete Christ.

- Don