Woodstock and World Youth

The crowd at Woodstock fills a natural amphith...
It almost makes me weep. 

What is the matter with a church that has to seize on  a three day festival of peace and music that made world history to make a point ?

Msgr. Miguel Delgado Galindo, who was appointed undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on June 18, told L’Osservatore Romano that World Youth Day is not a “Catholic Woodstock.” 

“Whoever is familiar with WYD knows that it is a stupendous occasion for evangelizing youth, a marvelous way for a personal encounter with Jesus in the presence of the Pope,” said Msgr. Delgado, who was looking forward to a career as an attorney before attending the 1989 World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela and deciding to enter the seminary. 

“So the real protagonist is Christ, not the show, nor the multitude of young people. 

I am sure that we are well aware of those facts but once again the Vatican just don't get it !! 

They can't seem to resist conflating two separate entities ; i.e music and morality and 
taking the moral high ground that the church events are somehow  the only repository where Christ can act as the real protagonist..

The fact is that the show and the multitudes CAN still be unaware that the real protagonist is Christ and still be a part of a miracle . 

(Feeding five thousand people with five loaves and fishes may depend on having faith in Christ  but solving the Somalian food crisis for eleven million may or may not depend on Christ and that is the modern world we live in. )

I cannot fathom the inept mind -sets of these Vatican spokesmen who constantly foul up on messages.

I could have let the whole thing pass me by with just a sigh but then these two additional statements by Monsignor Galindo and Fr Lombardi respectively are so much more revelatory as to the real message they want to convey :

"It can’t be considered the ‘Catholic Woodstock,’ a multicultural festival of Catholic young people which leaves no lasting trace when the lights go down.” 

When Fr. Federico Lombardi says
“The generation of the 1960s confused revolutionary and libertarian ideas with their own personal contradictions.” 

Yet another attempt by the Vatican to assign judgement on and rubbish a whole generation that would just happen to believe in Vatican II ???

What exactly would  be wrong with having a World youth gathering in Madrid that had some of the best elements of  a Woodstock festival alongside other forms of more traditional music, both  combined with a focus on Christ at its centre ?

I wish someone would ask these two Vatican representatives this question.

Sure, not everyone remembers Woodstock in the same way; the concert was called everything from “a peace festival that was supposed to bring unity and togetherness” to “a hippie drug-fest.”

Many however, see it as a part of an era that helped create the greatest musical renaissance ever seen and the profusion of great artists and great songs that marked the creative apex of music. 

So many young people still love the music of that era because it is great music and that seems to be an anathema to the Vatican .

32 acts performed live in front of a staggering, 500,000 people. It was also the subject of the documentary movie, "Woodstock" released in 1970. Rolling Stone magazine listed the event as one of the '50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock 'n' Roll'.
Woodstock was unbelievably peaceful and trouble free, however there were a few incidents, including two recorded deaths. One was what appeared to be a heroin overdose and another was a freak accident, when a tractor ran over a festival goer, sleeping in a nearby hayfield. Also, there were two births. One occurred in a car stuck in traffic and the other at a hospital after the delivering mother was airlifted from the festival grounds.

Despite all the craziness and walking the fine line between success and total disaster, Woodstock,for most attendees, did what it was supposed to do, capture the spirit of the '60s. The whole thing must have dumbfounded some, disgusted others, and made the rest wonder at it all.

Afterwards, Max Yasgur, who owned the land, spoke of the event very fondly of the event, saying that the possibilibily of catastrophe was always there but instead it became about peace, love, and music. 

Finally stating that "if we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future..." I figure at the rate we're going, we need a Woodstock every two years.

The music of  Aretha Franklin, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, are still very much remembered and enjoyed long after the lights went out.

I am sure Monsignor Galindo and Father Lombardi are old enough to remember that Kennedy's assassination, racial prejudice, the Vietnam war were not due to Woodstock but  that civil rights and marches for freedom against dictatorship and oppressive regimes were ethical actions for social justice the church should be proud of.

Woodstock may even be argued by some as part of an incredible renaissance that was part and parcel of the counterculture revolution, which, at one time was a true revolution that still shapes the discussions in the world.

The influence of Woodstock, an upstate N.Y. music festival that took place 42 years ago , is still being discussed.

About 70 percent of Americans age 16 and over remember learning about the 1969 concert in Bethel, N.Y., or have at least heard about it, according to a recent Pew Research survey.

Father Richard Rohr , one of the most popular Catholic speakers and authors of our modern day was very much present at the Glastonbury music festival this year - hardly a religious event but one in which he is made very welcome.

I am sure that the World Youth festival in Madrid will be a huge success and hope  it will be remembered fondly by all those who participate and if the church spokesmen has merely stressed the positive message of what it was about then that would be admirable. 

But it is entirely crass to elevate itself above the enjoyment that music festivals can bring to many and take a swipe at those who do.

No doubt for millions of people non religious music is a very spiritual experience. Once again, the church chooses opposition to the secular world instead of entering into the centre of its life to transform it; 

Jesus would be just as much at ease at Woodstock as He would in Madrid but clearly Monsignor Galindo and Fr, Lombardi wouldn't and that is one of the saddest reasons why so many people who should be able to consider going to both, would not go to Madrid.

What will my church be remembered for in the next forty years ?
Somehow I don't think it will be music but I have a greater fear and that is that it won't even be remembered primarily  for bringing the message of a loving and compassionate reconciling Christ to the world either.

And lest the church forget, the haemorrhage of priests and the closures of many churches in our present time has left many faithful parishioners to be the last one to switch the lights off as they close the church door. 

Let them dwell on and examine the real reasons for that and please don't make the excuse of blaming it all on the ghost of the 60's. 

Stop scapegoating.

In the words of Blessed Peter Carey whose feast day it is today 
(see separate post here)

"The things that unite us ought to be the first ground of our approach, not the things that keep us apart." 
Ordinary music can be spiritual and can play a part in uniting people too and it does not have to always be music classified as officially sacred !

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