"The greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the church"-Pope Benedict xvi

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sideshow Don

Don Bosco's relics have visited Cardiff today as part of their UK wide tour in the run-up to the 200th anniversary of the Saint's birth in 2015.

I took my children to visit, and was much looking forward to it being as edifying as our visit to see the heart of St John Vianny back in July.
Unfortunately, it was not a prayerful experience, and I would advise anyone who wants to go to pray to do so beforehand, or afterwards.

There was a great deal of noise in the Church-the pilgrim experience, at least for schools, included a display of magic tricks and jokes for which there was applause. I am not raging here against the "evils" of a magic show (magic meaning sleight-of-hand and rope and hanky tricks). Don Bosco himself used circus tricks as a means to engage youth and evangelise. Neither am I disputing that the acts at the relics were funny and engaging -they were-but I question the appropriateness of all this being done in a Catholic Church, in front of the Blessed Sacrament

I overheard several people expressing disapproval at the lack of respect shown.
I also have nothing against EYs, or Enthusiastic Youth-Sion Community/Celebrate/Street Charity sellers with tabards on. "Hi, I'm Claire, can I help you?!"Bright as a button/happy/engaging. Good.We need it.
 But EYs sitting on a pew with their backs to the Blessed Sacrament, while attempting to pull their head off with a bit of rope. Is this really the only way to engage the Youth?
Are we not supposed to leading people to Christ? How is ignoring him going to help?
What would the Saint himself have thought of this?
I get what they are trying to do with this tour -engage the masses, the lapsed, the sort-of Catholics, the dissafected youth. I will concede that the fluffy "Pilgrim Experience" with its description of aspects of the Saint's life is designed to resonate with our own "Faith Journey". But relating to our "experience" or our "feelings" is all a bit shallow and tired.
Maybe I'm being mean. Do go. There's still some Graces to be had (even if they are Patience,more patience and the grace not to Google "orthodox dioceses, desert islands and enclosed communities")


Bob Gardner said...

Many thanks for your reflection on your experience at the Pilgrimage of the Relics of Don Bosco.

In fairness to your readers, I do think it is only just that you reflect the opinions of the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Bishop of Motherwell, the Auxilliary Bishop of Liverpool, the Archbishop of Birmingham. the retired Bishop of Birmingham and the Bishop today - all who highly praised the whole Relics experience, including the Holy Masses, the Cluster Prayers and the closing liturgy.

I am sure that the above are all equally concerned about the Blessed Sacrament and young people of today as you are.

I am so grateful that God gave the Church St John Bosco, and that he truly believed the church did not need 'long faced saints'

With respect and my prayers,

Fr Bob Gardner SDB
Office of Social Media and Communications

PJ said...

I too went to see the relics in Cardiff Cathedral and had a very similar experience to you. The clapping during mass, the "performance" after communion and the modern music playing during the pilgrim experience. All in all I found it to be a very un-peaceful experience. I thank the Salesian's for bring the relics here, but did they need to add all the extras? Aren't relics enough in them selves?

Thank you for posting this, and be assured you are not alone in your thoughts on the matter

I was so fustrated by my experience that I decided to go to mass in the extraordinary form the next Sunday

Seems like Don Bosco is interceding in a way people didn't expect

Rhoslyn said...

Thank you for your post. I have to say that I didn't stay afterwards, such was my discomfort during the mass. I ended up blocking out most of what was going on during the mass (especially the clapping and the keyboard...!), in favour of preparing myself to receive Communion using a small book with some meditations in it.

I felt sad that the relics of Don Bosco were being used in this way, that the Salesians are under the impression that the mass has to be dumbed down for young people. I felt especially sorry for those children for whom this will be their only spiritual nourishment for the whole year, who will not attend any other mass.

I had never encountered the Salesians before and, despite having seen the mass at Liverpool Cathedral and the scandalous 'liturgical dancing' and use of pop music during the mass, I came with an open mind, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. I left feeling sad and a little angry.