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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Happy Trads

World Youth Day. Well. As berenike notes, I was struck down with illness and exhaustion afterwards, neither of which has quite departed, so expect more addled, half-formed, ill-expressed thoughts for the moment. Nonetheless, since to our fast-moving world WJT is already a long time ago, here are some woefully unintellectual and un-analytical postcards. I was there with Juventutem, a Tridentine Rite umbrella group which turned out to be mostly French. First theme of the week: mild Anglophone-French tension. Well, not tension; more that each group was secure in its own feeling of superiority to the other... in an entirely charitable way...

Happy trads! How lovely to have a week of old rite Masses, in a church packed with young people, none of whom were of the '50s time-warp sort. (The last few anglophones, in a cafe in Cologne after it was all over, were all admitting their fear that everyone else there would turn out to be a complete lunatic, what berenike calls the 'tweed pants brigade.' Happy this was not so.*) And yes, sometimes our conversations went off into moaning about bishops who obfuscate and don't allow the Trid Mass to be said, or insist on dead-of-night secrecy etc etc; but for the most part, it was a week happily free of trad paranoia, and full of people just getting on with trying to be Catholics - venientes adorare Eum, indeed.

Less happy trads with all the mundane stuff, like communal showers (genders separated, folks, don't panic), very deficient food organisation (WJT, not Juventutem), and never knowing what we were going to be doing until it happened (and sometimes not then... rambling aimlessly through back streets of Cologne for an hour, anyone...). I have never been on anything that could really be described as a pilgrimage before - sadly can't convince myself that strolling from Santa Maria degli Angeli to Assisi counts - and in these hardships (pretty minimal, when one thinks about them) the pilgrimage nature of WJT really comes out. It's the Lenten experience of realising how weak and feeble one is when deprived of some of the props of fleshly security. All this was, I suspect, the fast-acting result of praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary on the Monday with lots of intentions for mortification of whatnot. Our Blessed Mother sometimes gives us our medicine in short order.

Random images... Praying that rosary in the beautiful St-Andreas, the Dominican church, in Düsseldorf [kudos to Petra for leaving instructions on the code for umlauts in our comments box, by the way! Gratias ago tibi!], before Our Lord in the monstrance.
- The stalwart FSSP seminarians in their lovely cassocks, and their high-quality head-gear: one biretta, one Father Brown hat, one Senegalese straw hat. Marvellous.
- Two occasions when people wanted to take photos of several of us girls, apparently just because we had head-coverings on (the others had nice mantillas whereas I just had some scruffy headscarf, so it was on their account rather than mine!).
- Various attempts in various languages to explain to people what Juventutem was all about... With one German lady: 'Ah, Juventutem! Also für die Kinder?' 'Nein, nein, Juventutem wie in Introibo ad altare Dei... Die traditionelle lateinische Messe...' (rapid realisation that I should have found out the most common German way of referring to the old rite before going there - lovely teutonic readers of ours, what is it? What will people recognise instantly?)
- Juventutem bloggers! The charming Julie, who has two blogs and is a quality muso; and Aristotle, another quality muso whose blog has lots about Juventutem music. And I met someone who reads Laodicea without having been pressured into it by berenike, Aelianus or myself. No, really.
- Continentals can't queue. It's just one of those things. Communal showers are also the most hilariously effective way of vindicating national prejudices.
- Providential workings. Sitting on a train to Köln next to some Slavonic group, I tried my best Polish: 'Jestescie z Polskii?' They turned out to be Ukrainian, so we talked English. And the chap I was sitting next to turned out to be looking to get in touch with an English Juventutem chap he knew, with a view to liaising between Juventutem and the Ukrainians. Said English chap later turned out to have lost Ukrainian chap's number. So had I not been sitting there on that train, and had I not been making feeble attempts to learn Polish before visiting berenike... God is good indeed.
- Ukrainian rite Liturgy! I'd never been to one before. And in fact I only got to half of one. But there were three bishops in crowns!!!
(Note exclamation marks replacing analysis in the decaying Boecian brain. Wonder if the gentleman from whom my name derives ever lost his scholarly capacities (far greater than mine, anyhow) to this extent while jaunting about the Continent?)

But the best bits of the week were the Masses and the Pope. Especially Benediction at Marienfeld. About which more later, God willing. For now: other people's photos! links from Aristotle. Note especially Archbishop Haas!!!

*Disclaimer: I like tweed. I rather like '50s fashions. I just refuse to associate this with liturgy in any apparently necessary way...