I have access to cable this weekend & happened upon a Catholic station. I watched a fairly dismal Daily Mass filmed in the American south. Readings & prayers were monotone & I didn't see a lick of joy on anyone. The only ones who seemed remotely engaged were the cantor & the main priest (who gave a very good homily). Otherwise, it seemed like a chapel full of nervous zombies ready to crawl back into bed. Still, this is the Church, these are my brothers & sisters and... it just made me sad. This is not the Catholicism I know. I feel very blessed to be able to attend my parish & sit under the leadership there.
Now I'm watching the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Mexico because it just happens to be on. He's in his Popemobile heading to a public square & the Mexican announcers are exuberant. It sounds like they're calling a soccer game or something. People are crowding the streets waving "papal flags" & shouting... It LOOKS like a soccer game. I'm scanning the crowds for vendors selling hot dogs & popcorn. Nothing. What a difference from the Mass I just witnessed! This man, the Pope, is the figurehead of Catholicism. He is the Holy Father. I wonder how I would respond if I ever got to see him live? I don't think I would be screaming or weeping or throwing my arms open wide in mock embrace... He's just a man. I wonder if Peter or Clement or any of the first Popes got such a reception when they traveled? Might they have seen such a gathering as misappropriated worship? Might they have spoken out against such pomp & circumstance? Or can it be that as the Pope represents Christ- the Head of the Church on earth- that this hub bub is in fact meant for Christ instead? I wonder if the people on the streets are there for the Pope or for Who he represents? Is there a difference in their minds? Or is it merely cultural? Its interesting to note that Catholicism is not inherently American... its diverse, global. I need to remember that... I respect the Pope. He's a great writer & seems to be alright at leading the church, considering the circumstances... but he ain't God. I think he knows it. Does everyone else?! Outpourings like this often make me wonder... But this is Catholicism too, just like the zombie Mass, just like my own parish. So diverse.