Gregg Wayland of NECN said, "Today, there was an abundance of grace at Yankee Stadium."
I got back tonight from the Papal Mass celebrated at Yankee Stadium today, and it was an amazing and wondrous event. This one will take a few days to process, these are just my quick impressions.
It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event. I was one of the 57,000 very lucky people who cheered, prayed, chanted, listened intently, waved cloths, sang, and cheered some more. The music was amazing, just beautiful music that elevated and transported one to a higher plane. The papal choir and orchestra were top-notch, the songs were almost all classics of the church. All around the stadium, everybody was smiling. When the Mass ended, most people stayed, listening to the music and waiting for another glimpse of the beloved Holy Father in his popemobile.
There were lots of young nuns and priests there, good to see. The nuns had all sorts of different habits. Good to see that too (instead of nuns wearing drab "normal" clothing, indistinguishable from anyone else walking down the street).
Yankee souvenirs replaced by Pope souvenirs for a day.
Yankee Stadium was an odd setting for a mass, and it lent itself to spontaneous cheers and outbursts of love for the Pope during the Mass. One group, the Neocatechumenal Communities of Boston, was particularly jubilant, they started several chants of "Be-ne-dic-to!" and "Alleluiah!" The Pope didn't encourage it or milk it, but he would make a modest gesture to acknowledge their expression, such as slightly raising his hands and facing the crowd. Then he quietly returned to celebrating the Mass. I've noticed throughout the Pope's visit that he makes small, shy gestures that are packed with meaning. You have to watch and listen carefully to this Pope.
Security around the top of Yankee Stadium.
What else? There were a number of short chants or songs in Latin that we all sang, and they sounded great! I'm sure most people who attended this Mass had never sung these words before, and it sounded wonderful. OK, we had a papal choir and orchestra leading things, not to mention a great cantor, but also that's the beauty of these Palestrina and Gregorian chants. They are musically simple, with few notes and not much difference between notes (it's not a reach going from low notes to high notes, as in some songs). That 57,000 people who've never sung together in their lives managed to sound pretty damn good singing these short pieces. Which should dispel the idea that Gregorian chants are too difficult for ordinary church-goers to sing. Yes, we can!! We did it at Yankee Stadium! Thank you, Pope Benedict and New York Archdiocese, for a wonderful selection of songs and chants. Listening to this Mass, you'd swear you were in a cathedral.
The atmosphere was jubilant and reverent. The homily was wonderful (again), "Dear bruzzers und ziz-tears in Chrisst", with the Pope reminding us of what many good things Catholics have done in this country, our schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations. We've gone from being a religious minority viewed with distrust and suspicion to becoming a group with significant influence on the wider society. He called on Catholics to know and live our faith, to blend our religious ideals and aspirations with the wider secular, democratic society. Whispers in the Loggia has the full text of the homily here. Pope Benedict has sent a good many messages out in this trip to many different groups in our country. I sense a follow-up blog here on some of those messages.
My seat was way up high in the top deck between home plate and first base. Even with binoculars, I couldn't see the stage very well. But I did see the Pope incense the altar, and several seconds later, the fragrant smoke came wafting up to us. Although I could barely see Pope Benedict, I feel honored and blessed to have been there today. There truly was an abundance of grace there today. Many hearts were touched. Many people's faith was renewed and strengthened.
(Getty image from here)
Ken who commented below took a terrific photo of the altar.
Update: I wrote this as a comment over at Tea at Triannon, who linked here, so I may as well write it here too: "The Mass was incredibly moving. I truly feel renewed in my faith in Christ."
The Mass is still being broadcast on EWTN, and ComCast digital cable customers can watch the Masses (Washington DC and Yankee Stadium) for free through April 27. Here are the details, from ComCast, posted at Michael Paulsen's papal visit blog:
"The two Papal Masses, which occur during the Pope’s first visit to the United States, are scheduled for Thursday, April 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and Sunday, April 20, at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Both events will be covered as part of EWTN’s live coverage of the Pope’s entire trip to the United States, with Comcast Digital Cable customers also having the ability to watch the Masses anytime they want with the ability to pause, fast forward and rewind. Each Mass will be available for On Demand viewing by the next morning and will remain available through Sunday, April 27...Comcast Digital Cable customers can watch the masses by choosing the “Get Local” section of On Demand and then selecting the “Papal Mass” folder."