Pope Benedict’s chief liturgist, Msgr Guido Marini, made suggestions and reserved veto power over particulars, but acknowledges that most of what will go into the Holy Father’s five stateside liturgies were decided by locals.
We do know what elements would be vetoed, had the pope hired any number of Catholic bloggers. As it is, we know he could’ve vetoed the Twentieth Century’s favorite Mass, but didn’t. All that ethnic music could’ve been deep-sixed, too. But it wasn’t.
If I were younger, or if there had been less complaint in the blogosphere about papal liturgy music, I might have been more critical about the stuff. (You’ll notice I’ve withheld my opinion on choral settings replacing the assembly’s song.) But still, I don’t hold much favor with what either appears or was not vetoed. It’s a mega-Mass I’ll never have a part in celebrating or planning. Ditto for the pope.
Most of all, good liturgy is built brick by brick on the parish level. Attending to music, preaching, hospitality, and all the small details of doing all things well: that’s what will change the course of liturgical Catholicism. These big liturgical events? That’s for firing up the faithful. It’s a Mass inserted into a pep rally. And I say that not from a sense of dismissing the pope’s visit as trivial. Far from it. If the pope leaves American shores and Catholics as a result get a jump-start on liturgy, evangelization, spirituality, or any of the important virtues, then we can say “mission accomplished.”
And I can applaud that.