Imagine... Put together the worst of North American liberal establishment liturgy, an array of clerics including a cardinal, a polish bishop with a mitre touching the ceiling and several who didn't know what a mitre was, Byzantine rite priests, and other priests (relegated to sitting behind the laity in the nave of the Church). Add to this a good choir and an excellent organist playing in the style of Marcel Dupré, but a selection of music so eclectic to be neither one thing nor another. But on the other side add two permanent deacons who had no clue what they were doing and did everything in an inept manner (the worst being waving a host around to any bishop who had not received a particle for Communion). Add also the ordinary of the Mass schizophrenically moving from French to English with the occasional utterance in Spanish (I was surprised that the consecration of the host and the chalice were in the same language). You now have a bit of a picture of what the Mass at today's preparatory meeting for the International Eucharistic Congress was like.
The setting was tremendous - the Basilica-Cathedral of Québec. But the well organised disorganisation of the liturgy does not bode well for the Congress itself. I hope someone reads Sacramentum Caritatis before it starts, and that we get the Mass in Latin rather than not knowing what language it is in. I hope they can get rid of the professional looking lay people and religious out of the way, as they are a distraction. I hope that something of the Ars Celebrandi gets improved. But I'm not holding my breath. The thing is, the International Eucharistic Congress is supposed to be about not just adoration, but about improving celebration. Put in that context, today's Mass (or should I call it 'Eucharist liturgy'?) was a fiasco.
One good point was the homily of Cardinal Tomko (pictured above during the homily), the main celebrant (or should that be 'presider'?) He picked up on the text "A little while longer and you will not see me", and said that Jesus was pointing not just towards his Crucifixion but also to his Ascension. That although he may physically have become remote, in his divinity he is closer than ever. In the time in which we live - of the already of the Paschal Mystery and the not yet of the fulfilment of the ages - the Eucharist is the true living presence of Christ in his humanity and divinity. Although we cannot see - and maybe it is just as well as we would be overpowered by the glory - we can believe, and, as St Thomas Aquinas put it, sola fides sufficit. I just wish the teaching had been reflected in the celebration of the Mass.