Two Saturdays ago I woke up later than planned but I still made it in time to San Francisco for the Mass for St. Josemaría Escrivá. The parking lot at the cathedral was already full when I arrived, so I found metered parking in Japantown. (How many of those regularly attending Masses at the cathedral live close by?)
The principal celebrant was one of the auxiliary bishops of San Francisco, William Justice. (The presence of an auxiliary bishop, along with the recent appointment of an auxiliary bishop for San Jose, got me thinking about auxiliary bishops and their titular sees -- is there a better way to arrange this, without having non-existent sees as legal fictions? Metropolitans and bishops?) The homilist was the priest in charge of Opus Dei in the region. In the homily, he mentioned that Opus Dei is celebrating 48 years of presence in San Francisco.
The liturgy: the sacred music was a mix -- some chant, some polyphony, some hymns, some modern worship music (for Communion: "Gift of Finest Wheat"!). I am guessing the readings were not taken from the generic propers for a confessor (or the equivalent in the OF). The readings:
- Genesis 2:4b-9, 15 (relevant to the lay spirituality Opus Dei and "work")
- Romans 8:14-17 (divine filiation)
- Luke 5:1-11 (for St. Josemaria as a fisher of men)
The homilist emphasized the universal call to holiness. He also stated that we do not need to abandon place in the world, by which he meant temporal society, not the different, negative meaning of "world" which is used by St. John and St. Paul in their admonishments (~being in the world and not of it). This is somewhat of a truism, as we have not left our "place" in the natural communities into which we are born to serve God (i.e. become religious). We are to "transform it, work done with love to the best of our ability"
Do we Catholics (and not just those who are associated with Opus Dei) desire a respectable, comfortable bourgeois spirituality? I wouldn't accuse Catholics of having a gospel of wealth or prosperity like some Protestants, but are we too lukewarm despite our appearances of being pious? If what we are doing now is good enough, then how are things going to change in society or in the Church? People do what they can with respect to finding and keeping a job in order to support their families, but... how much is enough? A more radical witness to the simple life and detachment from material things might be needed. This isn't only for the sake of credibility, but more importantly, so that we better live up to the demands of charity and social justice.
Too often we fall into the trap of thinking that there is a checklist for being a good Catholic, and that all we need to do is frequent the sacraments, attend Mass regularly. There is a place for examining one's conscience but this too can become a crutch for complacency. Rule-following isn't enough; we must develop and exercise prudence. With a better understanding of the nature of our political economy, we might not be able to find guidelines that are applicable to all. But certainly we can be challenged to reconsider our comfort zone and live more wisely.
There were a lot of couples, families, and Filipinos at the Mass; not so many young or professional women. A few. but not many. I think there were more single males, probably associated with one of the local centers. They looked like single professionals, I don't think they were all numeraries. They appeared to be nice Catholic men, even if they were not all dressed in suits. How many of them would be acceptable to American Catholic women? There was a group of female high school students sitting in front of me -- they were helping pass out programs before the Mass. I don't know what their association with Opus Dei is.
I don't doubt the parents are zealous in bringing their children. But I couldn't help but question whether they were doing enough to prepare their children for marriage. Were they doing any networking for matchmaking purposes, whether with other people in Opus Dei or at their parish? Of course these questions could be asked of most American Catholics in our parishes, who give little thought to living in community with other Catholics.
The wearing of jacket and tie was observed by the majority of the older men present at the Mass. "All I saw were sheeple." I could be wrong, maybe the men just look that way because they are assisting at Mass. But they didn't exude a strong masculine presence? But I could be a poor recognizer of an alpha aura, with my judgment being distorted by my experiences. Certainly they looked non-threatening. Some might say this is a good thing, especially during the liturgy.
Cheap energy does foster anonymous living in the United States -- the mobility that a car provides, private entertainment at home, and so on.Without cheap energy, will Opus Dei in the United States be able to continue its apostolate? What will happen to Opus Dei when the age of cheap energy is over? I suppose God knows. The situation of Opus Dei in Europe and other countries may differ, since public transportation is more readily available.
There was a small reception after the Mass; maybe a potluck would have been better? I didn't stay as there were too many people in a rather small room. I don't know if the auxiliary bishop stayed.
As I looked at the altar in the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, I pondered whether Western cathedrals weren't too big; the amount of space does convey something about God, but I am thinking specifically of the sanctuary and the altar -- whether it was too big on the one hand, and yet not significant enough. It was bare, and there weren't any markers or boundaries for the sanctuary, other than the raised platform. There was also a lot of room between the altar and the lectern on one side and the presider's chair on the other. There wasn't a clear focus, or the actions in the sanctuary were too spread apart? The cathedral is in the modernist style. I think cathedrals of older forms of Western architecture may have better sanctuaries, but there is still the problem of space. Do they really observe a proper scale for those participating in the liturgy? If there are no microphones and speakers, can someone in the back of Notre Dame or Westminster Cathedral participate in a liturgy that is more dialogic in character? What has the Eastern/Orthodox experience been like with respect to large cathedrals? Would I have had the same reaction attending the litugy in Hagia Sophia?
Critics allege that the grand scale and luxuriousness of such edifices obscures the Gospel message--the amount of time, effort, money, and material spent on the construction of such grand and immense edifices. But what is the sort of participation that should be expected from the laity during the liturgy? What was the norm for the Roman rite in the past? What is the ideal, as conceived by the proponents of the New Liturgical Movement? The Byzantine rite seems to be more dialogic in character, especially with the use of litanies, than the Roman rite. But it is not clear to me that transformation of the dialogue Mass of the EF into the OF is the right direction for reform (if the changes in the Missal can be accurately characterized as such).
I'll have to attend more liturgies in the Byzantine rite and pay better attention.
I did end up going to Kinokuniya SF since I was in the area. I was thinking of this song while driving back from SF:
Went to Armadillo Willy's Cupertino for lunch -- they've revamped the look of the restaurant, with a new look for the menu and new dishes and baskets. They've done away with the take out option for their daily specials, and sides are no longer included for the sandwiches and burgers -- about $2 or so for a side. The burger was decent, probably not much difference sin I last had it. I suppose it might still be economical to order a burger for lunch on Saturday, but I'd be better off learning how to make cole slaw, which I should try to do this week, if cabbage is on sale.
San Jose Auxiliary Bishop Ordination (includes video)