According to tradition, World Youth Day is being largely ignored by the secular press and is being marked with nonstop complaining by Catholic social media.
My own view of World Youth Day is more or less like what I said about the Steubenville Conferences: It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m definitely not prepared to say that that means it’s no good. The spirit blows where it will, and I am trying not to get in its way.
The main thing that people are complaining about, this time around, is the distribution of the Eucharist, and the way the sacrament was reserved and displayed.
There were an estimated 1.5 million people at Mass, and so there were thousands of Eucharistic ministers, and people on social media shared photos of the hosts being distributed in plastic or ceramic bowls with the retail bar code sticker still stuck to the bottom, and covered with plastic wrap to keep them from spilling.
There were also photos of the reserved hosts being stored in some kind of heavy-duty plastic tubs stacked up on a table in a tent, either with a potted plant perched on top, or possibly with a monstrance on top; it was hard to tell from the photo. Young people were kneeling in the grass before the Lord, who had been placed in this arrangement.
I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. It’s hard to say how this arrangement is reverent in any meaningful way. I tend to side with the argument that, if the logistics of such an enormous operation made it necessary to put the Body of Christ into plastic tubs and plastic bowls with plastic wrap on top, then they just . . . shouldn’t have done it.
They should have had Mass without distributing Communion to thousands of people, which is totally a thing (we did that all through the pandemic, and got very good at reciting the prayer for spiritual communion together); or they could have just had adoration, with Jesus displayed in a more fitting receptacle. This wasn’t a war or an emergency or an unpredictable event. It wasn’t truly necessary to store consecrated hosts in plastic tubs. It didn’t have to happen.
I said that I sided with this argument, but I did not side with the way many people were making it. I will not link to any of it, but my feeds on several accounts were inundated with the most sneering, jeering, rage-filled invectives against everyone involved in World Youth Day.
Let me tell you something….Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.
Related reading: He is not safe with me