Monday, September 20, 2010

XXX Congreso de Teología – Part 2

In addition to the presentations already discussed in Part 1, the 30th Theology Congress of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII featured roundtables on Jesus and youth and on the experience of Jesus from Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox perspectives. And there were three special events:

1. Tribute to Mons. Leonidas Proaño of Ecuador and Mons. Oscar Romero of El Salvador


Both of these great prelates are celebrating anniversaries this year and so a special homage was paid to them.


Nidia Arrobo (photo-center; Fr. Faus is at right) of the Fundación Pueblo Indio who had worked as an assistant to Mons. Proaño offered an overview of his life, his beliefs and the pastoral plan he developed for the indigenous community. She also showed a brief film clip on his life. As we have already gathered considerable biographical resources on Mons. Proaño in an earlier post, we will not repeat ourselves here. One interesting point emerged from Arrobo's remarks: a connection between the two prelates. During the civil war in El Salvador, Mons. Proaño opened the doors of his seminaries in Riobamba to Salvadoran seminarians who were fleeing persecution so that they might be able to continue their studies towards the priesthood.

Jon Sobrino was supposed to have offered reflections on Mons. Oscar Romero but his illness prevented him from doing so and his fellow Jesuit, José Ignacio González Faus read a prepared text in his stead. Among the points made:
  • Mons. Romero's life is a story of conversion. He was not always a progressive but was made so by the events in El Salvador that he witnessed, especially the death of Fr. Rutilio Grande. In Sobrino's words, he "converted to the God of the poor."
  • Romero came to see that God is greater than the Church and to see that the Body of Christ is the Church. Sobrino said that Romero would frequently consult the base communities about their opinion as to what actions he should take.
  • Romero viewed the victims of his country's civil war and repression as the crucified Christ and he viewed his role as archbishop as defending the victims.
2. The Concert

Participants at the theology conference were treated to a wonderful concert on Saturday night by singer-songwriter Luis Guitarra, accompanied by Regina Aguilar on vocals and Alberto Tostado on bass.

Guitarra mostly sang songs from his latest album, "Todo es de Todos", which was on sale for whatever price we chose to pay. "El precio lo pones tú" has been Guitarra's philosophy and business motto since he began selling CDs in 1996. The singer donates the proceeds from his CDs to a charitable foundation, Como Tú, Como Yo which has sponsored a variety of international relief projects.

Guitarra sings largely about peace and social justice and it impressed me that he didn't just come to play his gig but stayed for some of the theological conference as well. He taught us the title track -- simple words but with huge implications:

Si todo es de todos,
la deuda del mundo es una injusticia.

Si todo es de todos,
los que tienen tanto que no piden más.

Si todo es de todos,
¿por que hay tanta gente que no tiene nada?

Si todo es de todos,
las deudas eternas tendrán un final.


If everything is everyone's,
the world debt is an injustice.

If everything is everyone's,
let those who have so much not ask for more.

If everything is everyone's,
why are there so many who have nothing?

If everything is everyone's,
the eternal debts will come to an end.

After the concert, Guitarra was kind enough to autograph a couple of CDs for me and a friend. He took time to write personal messages. On mine, he wrote: "Let's hope you learn these songs and that they will help you unlearn whatever you need to in order to keep hope alive." The reference is to his song "Desaprender la Guerra" ("Unlearning War") which I mentioned that I particularly like.



3. The Mass

The congress closed with Mass on Sunday. It was celebrated by a priest dressed in civilian garb who identified himself as Padre Enrique Mateo, and concelebrated by a spectrum of conference participants who sat with him at the makeshift altar on the stage.

It differed significantly from your typical Sunday Mass and to me felt more like the Masses we celebrate in Catholic Worker houses except on a much larger scale. For those who speak Spanish and are interested in an itemized description of the deviations from normal liturgical procedure, Pablo Ginés, a conservative Catholic blogger who seems to have attended the Mass for the sole purpose of trashing it, provides all the details. Ginés omitted one important detail: At the moment of epiclesis, many of the 800 or so participants joined Padre Enrique in the words of consecration. This was not in the script; we just did it, assuming our priestly calling given at baptism.

The music was mostly unknown to me since it came from the Spanish rather than the Latin American base communities though I did know the Sanctus which was from the Salvadoran folk Mass.

Ginés criticizes the participants for failing to stand or kneel at appropriate times. Aside from the consideration that being in an auditorium made it impossible to engage in liturgical gymnastics with any degree of ease or decorum, I believe that a Mass should be judged by its fruits and in this case, the fruits were joy, a sense of community among those who participated and the collection of over 17,500 euros for solidarity work. This proves that in spite of their age and dwindling numbers, the Asociación is still a factor that the Church will have to reckon with for a while.

4 comments:

  1. Credo. You are crazy. Is this mass valid? I think no.

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  2. What makes a Mass "valid" or not? Has the Vatican or any bishops conference produced a checklist of minimal requirements?

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  3. Yes, the Vatican produced a checklist of minimal requiriments: the name is MISSALE ROMANUM, a red book, if you or one of these "priests" already had saw one in your life.

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  4. Since you wouldn't answer my question properly, here is a site that does: http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/articles/badliturgy.htm

    "For a Mass to be invalid, the Consecration of the Eucharist does not occur" (at this Mass, Consecration did occur)

    "Only a validly ordained male priest can confect the Eucharistic (i.e. enable transubstantiation)" (to the best of my knowledge, the presider was a validly ordained male priest)

    "The priest must have the intent of doing what the Church does, that being the intent to make Jesus physically present via the miracle of transubstantiation at the consecration." (we have no reason to doubt our priest's intent)

    "For the Western Latin Rite Catholic Church, valid matter consists of wheat unleavened bread and grape wine." (unfortunately, we did have the usual RC tasteless wheat forms; for practical reasons the cup was not passed to all participants but, as I'm sure you know, both forms are present in the one form)

    "Changing the words of the preparatory parts of the Eucharistic prayer is illicit and gravely sinful for the priest, but would not invalidate the Eucharist as long as "This is My Body" and "This is ... My Blood" are said." (those words were said by the presiding priest...and by many others who were present)

    The article goes on to list a variety of other practices which the author says are "illicit" but you will notice that he is careful not to say that any of these practices invalidate the Mass, because they don't. Many of the things he objects to, such as changing prayers to use inclusive language or holding hands during the "Our Father", are commonplace in parishes around the world.

    Conclusion: This was a valid Mass, whether or not you liked the way it was performed.

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